Charbel Tawk recently submitted his Ph.D. thesis in soft robotics, this year he received a Global Challenges Travel Scholarship to attend the 2019 IEEE/ASME International Conference on Advanced Intelligent Mechatronics in Hong Kong.
During my Ph.D. at the University of Wollongong and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science I developed novel 3D printable soft actuators and sensors that can be used in various soft robotic applications including soft prosthetic hands, artificial muscles, soft adaptive gripper, locomotion robots and human-machine interfaces.
My research directly addresses the Making Future Industries challenge by using cutting-edge 3D printing technologies to develop affordable and accessible soft and interactive robotic devices that can be used in STEM education, virtual reality applications and soft prosthetic hands. We are using additive manufacturing to develop safe and interactive soft robotic devices that will impact on our society positively.
During my Ph.D., I had a lot of opportunities such as conferences, symposiums, central meetings and open days to show and share my Ph.D. research work. I finished my Ph.D. with 7 peer-reviewed articles which were published in high impact journals and 5 conference papers. Also, I won and received 9 awards and prizes in several competitions and travel scholarships and my stories were highlighted in several news articles and outlets. Personally, I think my Ph.D. journey was a big success. But most importantly, the main reason for this success was that I was surrounded by the best people from academic advisors to colleagues. In fact, it was a big success for our Soft Robotics team.
From a personal perspective, I have learned a lot of important life lessons along the way. I have gone through a lot of hardships and I faced a lot of difficulties. Today, I am grateful and happy that I have overcome all that I have faced with courage and responsibility. Everything I have been through taught me to value what is important in life.
The UOW Global Challenges Travel Scholarship supported me to attend the 2019 IEEE/ASME International Conference on Advanced Intelligent Mechatronics in Hong Kong with my primary Ph.D. supervisor Prof. Gursel Alici and my colleague Dr. Rahim Mutlu. It was a great opportunity to share the soft robotic devices we have developed with an international audience of academics with diverse research backgrounds.
At the end of the conference, our research group received some very positive feedback about our work. Many researchers and research groups approached us to establish some potential collaborations. We were excited about this positive feedback since it shows that our work is both interesting and significant.
One of the most interesting aspects of attending an international conference is that you get to meet different academics and learn about their interesting research. Another aspect is that you get the chance to travel where you can explore new places and learn about different cultures.
Soon we will have our own personal robots. Soft robots are made of deformable materials that make them suitable to interact safely with us. The 3D printable soft robotic devices I developed are getting us one step closer to developing fully soft robots easily and rapidly. The soft robotics field will have a great impact of many products such as prosthetic hands, personal robots and assistive medical devices to name a few. This research will change the way we think, make and interact with robots and robotic devices.
Find out more about the Global Challenges PhD Travel Scholarship video challenge. Entries close October 31.