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Engineering and Origami


PUBLISHED: May 12, 2015

Exploring Creases, Crimps, and Folds

Nicholas Turner, who is enrolled in the University's dual MBA/Engineering program, took first place in the 20000-40000level of the Undergraduate Library Research Awards (ULRA). He was honored with other winners at the 8th annual Undergraduate Scholars Conference on May 1.

His work, “A Review of Origami and its Applications in Mechanical Engineering,” provides an overview of current research on the subject. Mihir Sen, professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering, and J. William Goodwine, associate professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering, served as his advisors.

The goal of his review, says Turner, is to introduce the subject of origami — the ancient Japanese art of paper folding — to mechanical engineers “to encourage future origami-based design and applications.” In the last 50 years, he notes, origami has been applied to the development of surgical tools and stents as well as solar panels in outer space.

He initiated his research at the Engineering Library, where he referenced textbooks, electronic journals, online searches and video lectures to study the foundations of mathematical origami, “which is the theoretical basis for engineering applications,” he says.

From there he compiled his comprehensive origami engineering review, which also serves as a catalog and readers’ guide to major resources on the subject. During this process, he says, “The library staff encouraged my work and was always very eager to provide assistance and offer advice.”

 “One tip that greatly aided my ability to access information was to obtain papers that were referenced by studies that I had previously read. This research tactic,” he adds, “allowed me to trace contemporary research back to its origins.”

An abbreviated version of Turner’s review, which references 96 rather than the original 178 research findings, is being considered for publication by the Journal of Mechanical Engineering Science.