Tata Fellows win MIT Mechanical Engineering research and design awards

Tata Fellows Katy Olesnavage and Pulkit Shamshery received the De florez awards for demonstrating “outstanding ingenuity and creative judgement” in areas that utilize mechanical engineering knowledge or practice.

Olesnavage Katy pulkit shamshery mit tata center

On Thursday May 5th, this year’s Admiral Luis de Florez (’11) Award competition pitted 25 mechanical engineering students against each other. An impressive array of some of the best gadgets and product developments were showcased to a team of judges, who looked at each entry’s level of creativity, innovation, practical application, scientific basis, and design skill.

Taking first place in the Graduate Engineering Science category was Tata Fellow Katy Olesnavage for her PhD research entitled “Development of a Novel Optimization Objective for Passive Prosthetic Feet.” In the same category, Pulkit Shamshery won third place for his work into “A Low-Activation Pressure Online Pressure Compensating Drop Emitter.”

Quoting one judge: “Katy presented a full package of science and engineering and was a clear first place. Design work and testing led her to identify an opening in the theory and her research to fill this generated new science that is informing a novel design.” Her advisor Prof. Amos Winter added detail, “She has come up with a novel way to connect the mechanical design of prosthetic feet to the biomechanical performance people achieve when wearing them. This created a powerful analytical design tool, because it enables us to connect the geometry and stiffness of the foot to desired walking behavior.”

The very next week, on Friday May 13th, at the Mechanical Engineering awards lunch, Katy received the Thomas Sheridan Prize for creativity in man-machine integration, established by professor emeritus Thomas Sheridan, a pioneer in modelling human-automation interaction and the winner of numerous national awards and medals.
Also from Prof. Winter’s group, Pulkit was the first to analytically characterize a flow restrictor design from 1947, which has been used in drip irrigation since 1970’s without the dynamics being fully understood. Subsequently, this allowed the geometric parameters to be modified to significantly reduce activation pressure and, thus, pump energy consumption. This has the potential to expand the scope of solar powered irrigation, as well as reduce diesel and electricity consumption in India and globally.

Katy’s research is conducted in partnership with BMVSS “Jaipur Foot,” Jaipur, India with support from the MIT Tata Center and Pulkit is supported by both Jain Irrigation Systems Ltd., Jalgaon, India and the Tata Center. We congratulate Ms. Olesnavage and Mr. Shamshery!