12 ISE Magazine | www.iise.org/ISEmagazine
If you find a spider crawling
on the wall in your house,
dont hit it with your shoe;
it might someday be reani-
mated as a robot.
Thats not a sci-fi hor-
ror script but a new poten-
tial for deceased arachnids.
Engineers at Rice Uni-
versity have developed a
way to use dead spiders as
mechanical grippers for ro-
botic functions.
Why use a spider carcass
for such needs? The field
researchers call “necro-
botics” finds that the six-
legged wonders function
effectively through hy-
draulics. While alive, the
spider can extend its legs by sending blood from a chamber
near their heads; when the pressure is reduced, the legs con-
tract. Valves in spiders’ hydraulic chamber control each leg
The unique thing about spiders is that they actually
dont have antagonistic muscle pairs,” said Daniel Pres-
ton, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, Rices
George R. Brown School of Engineering, in a YouTube
video posted by the university. “Instead they do that with
hydraulic pressure that they generate inside of the main
cavity or chamber of their body. So because of that, when
they die that’s why you see spiders curled up. That means
that we can use hydraulic pressure when we use the spider
as the material for our gripper to take advantage of that and
extend all of its legs or joints.
To replicate this, the research team inject a needle into
the dead spider’s prosoma chamber and delivers a small
amount of air that extends the legs and grips an object,
which then can be picked up.
“We took the spider, we placed the needle in it not know-
ing what was going to happen; we kind of had an estimate
of where we wanted to place the needle,” said Faye Yap, a
mechanical engineering graduate student involved with the
project. “When we did it, it worked the first time right off
the bat. I dont even know how to describe it – that moment
when you see it move.
The Rice lab specializes in soft robotic systems that often
use nontraditional materials rather than plastics and metals
– in this case, dead wolf spiders.
This area of soft robotics is a lot of fun because we get
to use previously untapped types of actuation and materi-
als,” said Preston. “The spider falls into this line of inquiry.
It’s something that hasnt been used before but has a lot of
Preston said the spider grippers could be used to work
with microelectronic devices.
“We’re excited about it because it also offers the potential
to reduce waste streams,” he said. “These grippers, as you
might guess, are made from these biotic materials and are
compostable or biodegradable.
News from the field
The front line
Your friendly neighborhood spider robots
Rice University team finds way to employ dead arachnids as micro grippers
Researchers at Rice University were able to inject air into a dead wolf spider to manipulate its
legs to be used as robotic grippers. The spider robots offer a sustainable option for handling
microelectronic devices.
Image from Rice University video
September 2022 | ISE Magazine 13
Most of us likely have old CDs lying around
that are either damaged, unplayable or no lon-
ger desired in the age of digital music, with
many destined to reside in landlls for decades.
Now there may be new life for that Duran
Duran album being used as a drink coaster.
Researchers at Binghamton University have
developed a way to turn old CDs into flexible
biosensor devices in an inexpensive, easy way.
Ph.D. student Matthew Brown and assistant
professor Ahyeon Koh from the Department of
Biomedical Engineering at the Thomas J. Wat-
son College of Engineering and Applied Sci-
ence described the method in a paper published
in Nature Communications. They show how a
CDs thin metallic layer can be separated from
the plastic and turned into sensors to monitor electrical activ-
ity in the heart and muscles as well as lactose, glucose, pH and
oxygen levels.
The fabrication process takes only 20 to 30 minutes, costs
about $1.50 per device and does not release toxic materials into
the environment. It involves removing the metallic coating
from the plastic using a chemical process and adhesive tape.
“When you pick up your hair on your clothes with sticky
tape, that is essentially the same mechanism,” Koh told Bin-
gUNews. “We loosen the layer of metals from the CD and then
pick up that metal layer with tape, so we just peel it off. That
thin layer is then processed and flexible.
Other members of the research team include professor
Gretchen Mahler, student Melissa Mendoza, master’s student
Louis Somma and Yeonsik Noh, an assistant professor at the
University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
To make the sensors, the team used a Cricut cutter used by
crafters to cut designs from paper, vinyl and other materials.
The flexible circuits then can be stuck onto a persons body and
deliver readings to a smartphone app via Bluetooth. Brown
said the teams goal is to improve the process over time.
“We used gold CDs, and we want to explore silver-based
CDs, which I believe are more common,” he said. “How can
we upcycle those types of CDs with the same kind of process?
We also want to look at if we can utilize laser engraving rather
than using the fabric-based cutter to improve the upcycling
speed even further.
Koh suggests expanding the research by gathering donations
on campus and sharing the process.
“Maybe we can create a box on campus where we could
collect CDs,” she said. “We also could have more general-
ized step-by-step instructions on how to make them in a day,
without any engineering skills. Everybody can create those
kinds of sensors for their users. We want these to become more
accessible and affordable, and more easily distributed to the
CDs to biosensors: A new tune for golden oldies
Binghamton team peels metal off discarded music discs to make wearables
© 2021 Scott Adams, Inc. Used by permission of Andrews McMeel Syndication. All rights reserved.
A team of researchers at Binghamton University has developed an easy,
inexpensive way to create biomedical sensors from metal extracted from old
music CDs.
Photo courtesy of Binghamton University
14 ISE Magazine | www.iise.org/ISEmagazine
the frontlinethe front line
Having surgeons and their teams working on the same page
in the operating room is a key factor in creating good patient
outcomes. But how can these variables be objectively measured
and evaluated to improve collaboration?
A team of researchers from Purdues School of Industrial
Engineering and Indiana University School of Medicine in
Indianapolis are working on a way to use wearable sensors to
facilitate modeling and assessment of surgery teamwork.
IISE member Denny Yu, an assistant professor of indus-
trial engineering and adjunct assistant professor of surgery at
IU School of Medicine, recently was awarded a four-year,
$1.6-million grant as principal investigator from the Agency
for Healthcare Research and Quality to pursue the research.
The need for such evaluation is key, as nontechnical skills
such as teamwork, communication, decision-making and lead-
ership are shown to have a direct impact on patient health and
safety. Studies reveal that lapses in these areas can account for up
to 60% of surgical complications.
“We know team skills are of key importance to patient safe-
ty,” Yu said. “However, team skills are either not measured at
all or measured by expert observers, which is extremely time-
consuming and costly. Our engineering and medicine team
hope to find practical solutions using sensors and artificial intel-
ligence algorithms. This platform could automate the teaming
assessment, an important and commonly overlooked skill in
surgical teams.
The study’s multi-principal investigator, Dimitrios Stefani-
dis, M.D., vice chair of surgical education and professor of sur-
gery at IU School of Medicine, notes that surgery is a “team
sport” and that patient safety and favorable outcomes are de-
pendent on multiple factors based on the performance of the
surgical team.
“How the team works together, how well the team members
communicate with each other, how aware everyone is of their
surroundings, and how strong the leadership of the surgeon is
all play a role in the success of a surgery,” he said.
Trained observers to assess surgical collaboration can often
lack objectivity. The grant will aid development of technologi-
cal solutions that can conduct real-time observations and serve
as objective measurements of teamwork skills.
The approach we are taking in this study of developing
objective and reliable, nontechnical skill measures promises to
provide the means that will allow OR teams to improve their
collaborative work and ultimately benefit our patients,” Ste-
fanidis said.
Co-investigators at Purdue include Felicia Roberts, profes-
sor in the Brian Lamb School of Communications, and Arman
Sabbaghi, associate professor in the Department of Statistics.
A new way to measure teamwork in the OR
Purdue-Indiana grant to fund research toward use of sensors to gauge collaboration
Quote, unquote
Purdue team showcases ISEs opportunities
“I transitioned into IE because I love just the breadth of opportunities that were available for in-
dustrial engineers. I think that that’s what really separates industrial engineering from all other
kinds of engineering. Which is just the absolute amount of opportunity that you have, the num-
ber of industries you can go into and all the things that you can do with your career. And so that’s
why I went into IE. ... For this video in particular, I think we were super excited, especially to
showcase to high school students what incredible opportunities are out there in engineering.
— Chloee Robison, junior industrial engineering student at Purdue University and a member of the winning team in the 2022 IISE Student
Chapters Industry Advisory Board YouTube Video Contest sponsored by Tompkins International. The team of Robison, Ashwin Jayaraj, Sneha
Choradia and Annie Johnson won the top prize of $1,000, besting 11 other student teams with their video, “What is Industrial Engineering?” For
more on the contest, including links to the winning video and others from past years, visit iise.org/IAB-YouTube.
Chloee Robison
September 2022 | ISE Magazine 15
16 ISE Magazine | www.iise.org/ISEmagazine
the frontlinethe front line
The move toward vehicles powered by electricity rather than
fossil fuels often is limited by access to charging stations. This
is a particular problem for city residents who dont have drive-
ways or garages and must access street parking for their vehicles.
The Seattle City Light utility is addressing this by install-
ing curbside Level 2 electric vehicle charging stations on util-
ity poles or standalone pedestals at 30 locations throughout the
city. Residents could request a charger near their home if they
own an EV or plan to buy one within the next year.
The U.S. Census bureaus 2019 American Housing Survey
shows that more than one-third of U.S. homeowners, and
nearly two-thirds of renters, do not have a garage or carport
that can house a charger. Yet about 80% of Americans’ EV ve-
hicle charging occurs at home, usually overnight. Such limita-
tions often are barriers to purchasing an EV.
“More than 50% of our communities are renters, and that
lends to living in ... multifamily housing,” said Angela Song,
transportation electrification portfolio manager at City Light.
“We’re really excited and hope this can really push the bounds
and increase the adoption of electric vehicles. ... If were tack-
ling those challenging areas, we’re reducing barriers across the
broader community.”
The utility will install the chargers at no cost to residents,
who will pay a kilowatt-hour fee of 20 cents per kW to use
them. Each site can charge up to two vehicles and are available
on a first-come basis.
The chargers, which cost $11,000 to $25,000 each, will fea-
ture a J1772 connector compatible with all EVs on the North
America market. The organizers are looking to distribute them
evenly throughout the service area rather than focus on any
particular community. The public opt-in process ensures the
chargers will be used and meet the community’s needs.
After receiving hundreds of applications through the sum-
mer, City Light will evaluate the locations requested and install
the units in the top-ranking sites. It plans to complete installa-
tion by early 2023.
There are very few other utilities and municipalities in the
country that are currently pursuing EV charging solutions for
the residents,” said Jacob Orenberg, Seattle City Light senior
capital projects coordinator. “We want to provide a service for
current EV owners who may be struggling to charge their ve-
hicle, but also (to) prospective EV owners.
Seattle aims to bring power to the people
City utility to install streetside public EV chargers at residents’ requests
Robotic space plane tops its own orbital record
The U.S. Space Force’s robotic X-37B space plane broke its own mark for
endurance July 7 by marking 781 days in orbit, breaking its old record of 780.
The reusable, uncrewed vehicle designed and built by Boeing was flying on its
sixth mission that launched May 17, 2020. The X-37B is similar in design to
the NASAs retired space shuttle, although much smaller at 29 feet (8.8 meters)
long and 9.5 feet (2.9 m) tall, with a wingspan slightly under 15 feet (4.6 m) and
weighing 11,000 pounds (4,990 kilograms). It can operate at a range of altitudes
from 150 to 500 miles. It features fully automated de-orbit and landing capabilities
and a fully electro-mechanical control system. The flight was the first X-37B mission to use an attachable service module
with the additional payload to host experiments. Though the primary orbital agendas are classified, some of its onboard
experiments were disclosed, including one from the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory on transforming solar power into
radio frequency microwave energy. Two other NASA experiments onboard studied the effects of the space environment
on a materials sample plate and seeds used to grow food. The mission also included the deployment of FalconSat-8, a
small satellite developed by the U.S. Air Force Academy and sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory to conduct
several experiments on orbit.
Prime NumberS
Seattle City Light
is aiming to install
curbside electric
vehicle chargers
throughout the city
available for public
use by early 2023.
Residents will pay only
charging fees to use
the devices on a first-
come basis.
The U.S. Air Force X-37B Orbital
Test Vehicle 4 is seen after landing
at Kennedy Space Center’s Shuttle
Landing Facility May 7, 2017.
Photo courtesy of U.S. Air Force
September 2022 | ISE Magazine 17
The old saying of “give someone a fish, feed them for a day; teach someone to fish, feed them for a
lifetime” can apply to teaching principles of Lean. While the best instructors can pass along the basic
ideas of eliminating waste to streamline operations, instilling that attitude into an organizations cul-
ture is the key to long-term improvement. That’s the premise behind the book Building a Sustainable
Lean Culture – An Implementation Guide by Tina Kanti Agustiady and Elizabeth A. Cudney, each Lean
Six Sigma Master Black Belts and IISE Training Center instructors. Their book digs into how to
build a Lean culture “from the ground up while gaining buy-in from key stakeholders and being
able to sustain the results.” It discusses Lean leadership from a managerial standpoint and empower-
ing employees to build a Lean culture in sectors that include manufacturing, services, IT and healthcare. The authors note
that while implementing a Lean culture is every organizations goal, many only toss out the tools without a full idea of how
to apply them. Their strategy involves implementing Lean along three main aspects: the people, structural and cultural; the
operation system; and the tools. They include case studies to demonstrate examples of real-life implementation. “It is impor-
tant to remember that Lean is a choice,” the authors wrote. “Nobody can make Lean happen. It is what you make of it. You
can stay stagnant and keep doing things the way they’ve always been done. Or you can seek to continuously improve. The
number one concept of Lean is the people. Lean is not just about reducing waste and 5S, but about empowering the people,
listening to the people. Understanding the people. Without the people, the business is not a business. Tools are important,
but mean nothing without the entire philosophy.
Building a Sustainable Lean Culture – An Implementation Guide is published by CRC Press. $96
Making Lean a part of your company’s culture
IISE instructors offer improvement steps beyond the basic tools
Book of the Month
Driverless vehicles are about to go from experimental to prac-
Sweden startup Einride is planning to test its freight vehicles
on public roads before the end of the year. It will operate its
cabless electric trucks along a 1-mile stretch of road between
two warehouses in Tennessee for GE Appliances. The test run
has earned approval from the National Highway Traffic Safety
Steve Viscelli, a University of Pennsylvania fellow and lec-
turer and expert on the trucking industry, told The Wall Street
Journal that driverless transport of goods is a priority for the
freight sector, and likely will surpass the push for passenger
vehicles. The motivation is clear: Trucks without humans cost
less and have more simplified operations.
Trucks will be first, without a doubt, in the true driverless
system, partly for the economics of it,” Viscelli said. “Right
now, we have huge limitations on how long a truck can move
because it’s piloted by a human being, who needs to sleep and
use the bathroom and take 10-hour mandatory breaks and
other things.
Einride’s snub-nosed vehicles are called Pods, each able to
haul about 10 pallets of freight, about 57,000 pounds. They are
driven by remote operators who may monitor several vehicles
at once, according to Einride. They are able to take the same
actions driver in the cab would typically make, such as calling
someone when a vehicle gets stuck at a gate.
Though other companies are developing autonomous
transport, many of those arent electric vehicles. The hurdle
to EVs for freight is the lack of charging infrastructure in the
U.S., particularly for long-distant hauls, and the time spent
charging, Viscelli said. But Robert Falck, chief executive of
the Stockholm-based company, said Einride is planning to de-
velop the infrastructure it needs to charge its Pods en route.
This is a step-by-step approach, and this is a major step
forward, in that it’s actually now on public roads,” Falck said.
Driverless trucks gear up for real-life road tests
Swedish startup Einride plans to use its vehicles for Tennessee haul
Swedish startup automaker Einride plans to make test runs of its
driverless electric freight vehicle, called the Pod, on a stretch of
highway in Tennessee in late 2022.
Photo courtesy of Einride
18 ISE Magazine | www.iise.org/ISEmagazine
Students with idle time during the CO-
VID-19 lockdown found themselves
playing video games, watching TV or
engaging in other hobbies. One UK teen
student used that time to resurrect an old
design for a launch rocket.
Ewan Craig, 16, signed up for an open
online course on aerospace offered by
MIT. He learned of research for a rocket
design system from the 1950-60 era called
the aerospike, which was first created by
Rocketdyne Propulsion & Power, a unit
of The Boeing Co.
The aerospike was conceived as a
one-stage engine able to maintain aero-
dynamic efficiency. The engine uses
25-30% less fuel at low altitudes, and can
launch without boosters, a time and cost-
saver. At one time, it was a contender to
power the Space Shuttle as a single-stage-
to-orbit option but the technical problem
of cooling the engine was not solved.
Ewan decided to create his own aero-
spike design through computer-aided de-
sign programs available at his school, yet
they lacked the complexity needed.
After I’d been doing loads of design
work, and trying to calculate how I
could keep the engine cold and whether
it would actually produce any thrust, and
how the fluid dynamics inside would
work, I realized that I couldnt do that by
pen and paper alone,” he said. “The issue
for me was that all the free, open-source
software is for handling simple compo-
nents and behaviors.
Ewan contacted software provider
Ansys seeking any additional features or
tools for his project. Officials at Ansys
directed him to their startup program
through partner EDRMedeso in the Ad-
vanced Manufacturing Park Technology
Centre in South Yorkshire, England.
With his design underway, he began
looking for a manufacturer but couldnt
foot the costs most companies charged.
Ansys suggested he contact Velo3D, an
additive manufacturer in California,
where engineers offered design sugges-
tions and offered a free test print.
They proposed ways that I could
manage and optimize the model,” Ewan
said. “Every step of the way, they’ve been
thinking about how we can get the aero-
spike to work properly, the way I envi-
sion, which as a technical partner with a
company is exactly what you want.
Ben Wilson, applications development
engineer for Velo3D, decided Ewans
design was well-suited to his company’s
automated print software.
“He was very open to suggestions
from the beginning,” Wilson said. “We
didnt need to make overly invasive mod-
ications to the original part in order to
make it printable.
The resulting one-piece rocket design
is faithful to the original 1960s version,
including Ewans proposed solution to the
cooling problem.
Advanced 3D metal printing will
open a new age in economical, scalable
manufacturing for space,” he said.
UK teen launches 3D-printed retro rocket
Student creates aerospike design with help of software, printing companies
Ewan Craig shows off the aerospike
rocket design he created with help from
additive manufacturer Velo3D.
Photo courtesy of Velo3D
Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, research has
been ongoing into how to make face masks more effective and
potentially reusable.
A team at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has developed a
way to make N95 masks more effective germ barriers. They
did so by grafting broad-spectrum antimicrobial polymers onto
polypropylene filters using ultraviolet-initiated grafting, which
can kill germs on contact. The new masks also can be worn
longer, reducing the amount of waste from discarded masks.
The effort was published in Applied ACS Materials and Interfac-
es from the work by researchers at RPI, Michigan Technologi-
cal Institute and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The re-
search team included Helen Zha, assistant professor of chemical
and biological engineering at Rensselaer, and Edmund Palermo,
associate professor of materials science and engineering.
The process uses a really simple chemistry to create this non-
leaching polymer coating that can kill viruses and bacteria by
essentially breaking open their outer layer,” Zha said.
The team used only UV light and acetone in the process,
which is easy to implement and can be applied to manufactured
polypropylene filters. And having masks that can be reused
more often can ease the volume of masks in landlls.
The threat of diseases caused by airborne microbes is not
going away,” Zha said. “Its about time that we improved the
performance and sustainability of the materials that we use to
protect ourselves.
Germ-killer could boost potency of N95 masks
RPI team learns to graft antimicrobial polymers to face coverings
Advance your skills by entering the IISE/Rockwell Student Simulation
Competition, sponsored by Rockwell Automation.
Teams can comprise an adviser and:
• Four or fewer undergraduate students
• One or two graduate students
• One graduate student and up to two undergraduate students
The Fall session deadline is Sept. 30, 2022.
First Place: $5,000 to the team, plus $500 to the team’s chapter
Second Place: $2,500 to the team, plus $250 to the team’s chapter
Third Place: $1,500 to the team, plus $250 to the team’s chapter
1. Submit an entry form, found at www.iise.org/ArenaCompetition.
2. Rockwell will provide all teams with a real-world situational case study for analysis.
3. Teams have eight weeks to develop and submit their solutions.
4. Three finalist teams are selected to present their solutions for final judging at the IISE Annual
Conference & Expo, May 20-23, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Finalist teams receive $1,250 for travel
expenses as well as complimentary conference registrations and tickets to the Honors & Awards Banquet.
Enter your team at
Sponsored by:
IISE/Rockwell Student Simulation
Competition: Win $5,000!