Computational Design for the Next Manufacturing Revolution

Seminar | March 1 | 3-4 p.m. | Sutardja Dai Hall, 310 - Banatao Auditorium

 Adriana Schulz, Ph.D. Candidate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

 Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences (EECS)

Over the next few decades, we are going to transition to a new economy where highly complex, customizable products are manufactured on demand by flexible robotic systems. In many fields, this shift has already begun. 3D printers are revolutionizing production of metal parts in the aerospace, automotive, and medical industries. Whole-garment knitting machines allow automated production of complex apparel and shoes. Manufacturing electronics on flexible substrates makes it possible to build a whole new range of products for consumer electronics and medical diagnostics. Collaborative robots, such as Baxter from Rethink Robotics, allow flexible and automated assembly of complex objects. Overall, these new machines enable batch-one manufacturing of products that have unprecedented complexity.

In my talk, I argue that the field of computational design is essential for the next revolution in manufacturing. To build increasingly functional, complex and integrated products, we need to create design tools that allow their users to efficiently explore high-dimensional design spaces by optimizing over a set of performance objectives that can be measured only by expensive computations. I will discuss how to overcome these challenges by 1) developing data-driven methods for efficient exploration of these large spaces and 2) performance-driven algorithms for automated design optimization based on high-level functional specifications. I will showcase how these two concepts are applied by developing new systems for designing robots, drones, and furniture. I will conclude my talk by discussing open problems and challenges for this emerging research field.