Matching Items (26)

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Soft Robotic Haptic Interface with Variable Stiffness for Rehabilitation of Neurologically Impaired Hand Function

Description

The human hand comprises complex sensorimotor functions that can be impaired by neurological diseases and traumatic injuries. Effective rehabilitation can bring the impaired hand back to a functional state because

The human hand comprises complex sensorimotor functions that can be impaired by neurological diseases and traumatic injuries. Effective rehabilitation can bring the impaired hand back to a functional state because of the plasticity of the central nervous system to relearn and remodel the lost synapses in the brain. Current rehabilitation therapies focus on strengthening motor skills, such as grasping, employ multiple objects of varying stiffness so that affected persons can experience a wide range of strength training. These devices have limited range of stiffness due to the rigid mechanisms employed in their variable stiffness actuators. This paper presents a novel soft robotic haptic device for neuromuscular rehabilitation of the hand, which is designed to offer adjustable stiffness and can be utilized in both clinical and home settings. The device eliminates the need for multiple objects by employing a pneumatic soft structure made with highly compliant materials that act as the actuator of the haptic interface. It is made with interchangeable sleeves that can be customized to include materials of varying stiffness to increase the upper limit of the stiffness range. The device is fabricated using existing 3D printing technologies, and polymer molding and casting techniques, thus keeping the cost low and throughput high. The haptic interface is linked to either an open-loop system that allows for an increased pressure during usage or closed-loop system that provides pressure regulation in accordance to the stiffness the user specifies. Preliminary evaluation is performed to characterize the effective controllable region of variance in stiffness. It was found that the region of controllable stiffness was between points 3 and 7, where the stiffness appeared to plateau with each increase in pressure. The two control systems are tested to derive relationships between internal pressure, grasping force exertion on the surface, and displacement using multiple probing points on the haptic device. Additional quantitative evaluation is performed with study participants and juxtaposed to a qualitative analysis to ensure adequate perception in compliance variance. The qualitative evaluation showed that greater than 60% of the trials resulted in the correct perception of stiffness in the haptic device.

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  • 2017-12-20

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Resilience and efficiency in transportation networks

Description

Urban transportation systems are vulnerable to congestion, accidents, weather, special events, and other costly delays. Whereas typical policy responses prioritize reduction of delays under normal conditions to improve the efficiency

Urban transportation systems are vulnerable to congestion, accidents, weather, special events, and other costly delays. Whereas typical policy responses prioritize reduction of delays under normal conditions to improve the efficiency of urban road systems, analytic support for investments that improve resilience (defined as system recovery from additional disruptions) is still scarce. In this effort, we represent paved roads as a transportation network by mapping intersections to nodes and road segments between the intersections to links. We built road networks for 40 of the urban areas defined by the U.S. Census Bureau. We developed and calibrated a model to evaluate traffic delays using link loads. The loads may be regarded as traffic-based centrality measures, estimating the number of individuals using corresponding road segments. Efficiency was estimated as the average annual delay per peak-period auto commuter, and modeled results were found to be close to observed data, with the notable exception of New York City. Resilience was estimated as the change in efficiency resulting from roadway disruptions and was found to vary between cities, with increased delays due to a 5% random loss of road linkages ranging from 9.5% in Los Angeles to 56.0% in San Francisco. The results demonstrate that many urban road systems that operate inefficiently under normal conditions are nevertheless resilient to disruption, whereas some more efficient cities are more fragile. The implication is that resilience, not just efficiency, should be considered explicitly in roadway project selection and justify investment opportunities related to disaster and other disruptions.

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  • 2017-12-20

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Owners’ Perspective of Factors Contributing to Project Delay: Case Studies of Road and Bridge Projects in Saudi Arabia

Description

Delays are a major cause for concern in the construction industry in Saudi Arabia. This paper identifies the main causes of delay in infrastructure projects in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and

Delays are a major cause for concern in the construction industry in Saudi Arabia. This paper identifies the main causes of delay in infrastructure projects in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and compares these with projects around the country and other Gulf countries. Data was obtained from 49 infrastructure projects undertaken by the owner and were analyzed quantitatively to understand the severity and causes of delay. 10 risk factors were identified and were grouped into four categories. Average delay in infrastructure projects in Mecca was found to be 39%. The most severe cause of delay was found to be the land acquisition factor. This highlights the critical land ownership and acquisition issues that are prevailing in the city. Additionally, other factors that contribute to delay include contractors’ lack of expertise, re-designing, and haphazard underground utilities (line services). It is concluded that the majority of project delays were caused from the owner's side as compared to contractors, consultants, and other project's stakeholders. This finding matched with the research findings of the Gulf Countries Construction (GCC) Industry's literature. This study fills an important practice and research gap for improving the efficiency in delivering infrastructure projects in the holy city of Mecca and Gulf countries at large.

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  • 2016-05-20

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Defining and Understanding “Small Projects” in the Industrial Construction Sector

Description

To date, little research has been performed regarding the planning and management of “small” projects – those projects typically differentiated from “large” projects due to having lower costs. In 2013,

To date, little research has been performed regarding the planning and management of “small” projects – those projects typically differentiated from “large” projects due to having lower costs. In 2013, The Construction Industry Institute (CII) set out to develop a front end planning tool that will provide practitioners with a standardized process for planning small projects in the industrial sector. The research team determined that data should be sought from industry regarding small industrial projects to ensure applicability, effectiveness and validity of the new tool. The team developed and administered a survey to determine (1) the prevalence of small projects, (2) the planning processes currently in use for small projects, and (3) current metrics used by industry to differentiate between small and large projects. The survey data showed that small projects make up a majority of projects completed in the industrial sector, planning of these projects varies greatly across the industry, and the metrics posed in the survey were mostly not appropriate for use in differentiating between small and large projects. This study contributes to knowledge through adding to the limited research surrounding small projects, and suggesting future research regarding using measures of project complexity to differentiate between small and large projects.

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  • 2017-08-24

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The Current State of Research and Development Approach (R&D) in the Saudi Construction Industry

Description

For the past three decades, the Saudi construction industry (SCI) has exhibited poor performance. Many research efforts have tried to identify the problem and the potential causes but there have

For the past three decades, the Saudi construction industry (SCI) has exhibited poor performance. Many research efforts have tried to identify the problem and the potential causes but there have been few publications identifying ways to mitigate the problem and describing testing to validate the proposed solution. This paper examines the research and development (R&D) approach in the SCI. A literature research was performed identifying the impact that R&D has had on the SCI. A questionnaire was also created for surveying industry professionals and researchers. The results show evidence that the SCI practice and the academic research work exist in separate silos. This study recommends a change of mindset in both the public and private sector on their views on R&D since cooperation is required to create collaboration between the two sectors and improve the competitiveness of the country's economy.

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  • 2016-05-20

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Creating a New Project Management Model through Research

Description

The principles of a new project management model have been tested for the past 20 years. This project management model utilizes expertise instead of the traditional management, direction, and control

The principles of a new project management model have been tested for the past 20 years. This project management model utilizes expertise instead of the traditional management, direction, and control (MDC). This new project management model is a leadership-based model instead of a management model. The practice of the new model requires a change in paradigm and project management structure. Some of the practices of this new paradigm include minimizing the flow of information and communications to and from the project manager [including meetings, emails and documents], eliminating technical communications, reducing client management, direction, and control of the vendor, and the hiring of vendors or personnel to do specific tasks. A vendors is hired only after they have clearly shown that they know what they are doing by showing past performance on similar projects, that they clearly understand how to create transparency to minimize risk that they do not control, and that they can clearly outline their project plan using a detailed milestone schedule including time, cost, and tasks all communicated in the language of metrics.

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  • 2016-05-20

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Cost-effectiveness of Rubber and Polymer Modified Asphalt Mixtures as Related to Sustainable Fatigue Performance

Description

Load associated fatigue cracking is one of the major distress types occurring in flexible pavements. Flexural bending beam fatigue laboratory test has been used for several decades and is considered

Load associated fatigue cracking is one of the major distress types occurring in flexible pavements. Flexural bending beam fatigue laboratory test has been used for several decades and is considered an integral part of the Superpave advanced characterization procedure. One of the most significant solutions to sustain the fatigue life for an asphaltic mixture is to add sustainable materials such as rubber or polymers to the asphalt mixture. A laboratory testing program was performed on three gap-graded mixtures: unmodified, Asphalt Rubber (AR) and polymer-modified. Strain controlled fatigue tests were conducted according to the AASHTO T321 procedure. The results from the beam fatigue tests indicated that the AR and polymer-modified gap graded mixtures would have much longer fatigue lives compared to the reference (unmodified) mixture. In addition, a mechanistic analysis using 3D-Move software coupled with a cost-effectiveness analysis study based on the fatigue performance on the three mixtures were performed. Overall, the analysis showed that the AR and polymer-modified asphalt mixtures exhibited significantly higher cost-effectiveness compared to unmodified HMA mixture. Although AR and polymer-modification increases the cost of the material, the analysis showed that they are more cost effective than the unmodified mixture.

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  • 2016-05-20

Nanocatalysts for Low Temperature Fuel Cells

Description

Zeolitic Imidazolate Frameworks (ZIFs) are one of the potential candidates as highly conducting networks with surface area with a possibility to be used as catalyst support. In the present study,

Zeolitic Imidazolate Frameworks (ZIFs) are one of the potential candidates as highly conducting networks with surface area with a possibility to be used as catalyst support. In the present study, highly active state-of-the-art Pt-NCNTFs catalyst was synthesized by pyrolyzing ZIF-67 along with Pt precursor under flowing Ar-H[subscript 2] (90-10 %) gas at 700 °C. XRD analysis indicated the formation of Pt-Co alloy on the surface of the nanostructured catalyst support. The high resolution TEM examination showed the particle size range of 7 to 10 nm. Proton exchange membrane fuel cell performance was evaluated by fabricating membrane electrode assemblies using Nafion-212 electrolyte using H[subscript 2]/O[subscript 2] gases (100 % RH) at various temperatures. The peak power density of 630 mW.cm[superscript 2] was obtained with Pt-NCNTFs cathode catalyst and commercial Pt/C anode catalyst at 70 °C at ambient pressure.

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Date Created
  • 2017-11-16

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Low-Investment Energy Retrofit Framework for Small and Medium Office Buildings

Description

Small and medium office buildings consume a significant parcel of the U.S. building stock energy consumption. Still, owners lack resources and experience to conduct detailed energy audits and retrofit analysis.

Small and medium office buildings consume a significant parcel of the U.S. building stock energy consumption. Still, owners lack resources and experience to conduct detailed energy audits and retrofit analysis. We present an eight-steps framework for an energy retrofit assessment in small and medium office buildings. Through a bottom-up approach and a web-based retrofit toolkit tested on a case study in Arizona, this methodology was able to save about 50% of the total energy consumed by the case study building, depending on the adopted measures and invested capital. While the case study presented is a deep energy retrofit, the proposed framework is effective in guiding the decision-making process that precedes any energy retrofit, deep or light.

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  • 2016-05-20

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A Long-term Solution to Overcome the Problems Caused by Droughts in the Brazilian Power Systems

Description

Brazil has had issues in efficiently providing the required amount of electricity to its citizens at a low cost. One of the main causes to the decreasing performance of energy

Brazil has had issues in efficiently providing the required amount of electricity to its citizens at a low cost. One of the main causes to the decreasing performance of energy is due to reoccurring droughts that decrease the power generated by hydroelectric facilities. To compensate for the decrease, Brazil brought into use thermal power plants. The power plants being on average 23.7% more expensive than hydroelectric. Wind energy is potentially an alternative source of energy to compensate for the energy decrease during droughts. Brazil has invested in wind farms recently, but, due to issues with the delivery method, only 34% of wind farms are operational. This paper reviews the potential benefit Brazil could receive from investing more resources into developing and operating wind farms. It also proposes that utilization of the best value approach in delivering wind farms could produce operational wind farms quicker and more efficiently than previously experienced.

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  • 2016-05-20