UTC mechatronics student Juan Pena
photo by Dr. Erkan Kaplanoglu
A robotics team from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga recently traveled to the 15th International MoNe Robotic Competition in Bursa, Turkey, and returned home with its first international award.
Mechatronics student Juan Pena, a senior from Spring Hill, won Best Design and Jury Special Award for robots in health care for “Pneumatic Actuated Wearable Soft Robotics System for Mirror Hand Rehabilitation.” The design focused on a wearable hand rehabilitation system that supports both mirror and task-oriented therapy for patients who have suffered from a stroke and lost motor function.
Pena worked on the design with May 2023 mechatronics graduate Christopher Winters.
Accompanied to Turkey by project advisor Erkan Kaplanoglu, associate professor of mechatronics and interim department head, Mr. Pena was awarded a plaque, a cash prize and a large 3D printer—which he and Dr. Kaplanoglu donated to a Turkish high school.
The prosthetic device is comprised of a pair of gloves, one for each hand. The glove on the working hand contains sensors, so movements on that hand are mirrored through the glove on the non-working one. Make a fist on the working hand, for instance, and the non-working hand also will make a fist.
“We aim to test this robotic system on patients in the coming semester,” Dr. Kaplanoglu said.
About 1,200 participants and 4,000 robots competed in 12 different categories in the competition, which has been hosted by the General Directorate of Technical and Vocational Education for the Republic of Turkey since 2007.