PhD student, Mechanical Engineering
Faculty advisor: Darryl Thelen
Dylan Schmitz is a PhD student in the Mechanical Engineering Department studying how wearable robotic exoskeletons change the forces on the tendons and ligaments inside the body. His research seeks to address challenges with designing and tuning the behavior of the exoskeleton to best assist an individual’s muscles and tendons. He aims to understand real-time adaptation of human coordination to robotic assistance and develop improved biometric feedback mechanisms to better interface between the exoskeleton and the user.
Exoskeletons are gaining attention as rehabilitation devices for individuals with cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries, and weakness or paralysis caused by a stroke. Exoskeletons could also serve as assistive technologies for individuals with gait impairments or who are recovering from musculoskeletal treatments.
“For wearable robotic devices to be able to quickly adapt to changes in environment and provide the greatest benefit to the user, I believe it is important that we understand how the body responds to robotic assistance at a muscle-tendon level,” Schmitz explained. “This information can then be integrated into the exoskeleton design and control strategy, ultimately allowing individuals with gait limitations to participate more fully in an active lifestyle.”
Dylan received a Chancellor’s Fellowship from UW–Madison and was awarded the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship in 2019. At UW–Madison, he has also been involved in outreach for elementary and middle school students, including through Science Expeditions and the Engineering Expo.