As a mechanical engineering major at MIT, Matthew Cavuto was hoping to concentrate his studies and research in a specific area. He had long since been interested in biomechanical engineering, but he wasn’t sure if he wanted to commit fully without first conducting research in the area. “While in Germany, at the Technische Universitӓt Berlin, I realized just how fascinating the world of assistive technologies could be and this summer experience confirmed my choice to become a biomechanical engineer,” he says.
Calibrating Inertial Measurements for Exoskeletons
Matthew’s task was to design and build a machine to calibrate an inertial measurement unit (IMU) for use in exoskeletons and other assistive devices. Shortly after starting his project, Matthew realized that his experience with 3D printing and rapid prototyping was somewhat unfamiliar to his supervisors. Much to their surprise, Matthew was able to design the entire device through 3D modeling and quickly construct a prototype using printed and laser cut parts within the first few weeks. With experience working at a rehabilitation hospital in the US, Matthew designed and built a device to help stroke patients walk again; assisting them to bend and use their affected leg. Having seen the speed and efficiency at which Matthew’s two devices were designed and built through methods learned at MIT, the research group at the university decided to invest in the 3D printers and software for future projects and ventures.
Dancing in Germany
Besides his research, Matthew tried to fill up his evenings with local activities. “As a member of the Ballroom Dance Team at MIT,” he explains, “I was delighted to learn how passionate Germans were about dance. I spent many afternoons getting lessons from world renowned coaches and dancers and even attended the German Open Championships, the largest and most famous ballroom competition on the planet.”
A Second Home
Throughout his three months in Germany, Matthew says he could not have asked for a more enriching experience. “Having realized how much of an impact my research can make on real people, I have no doubt of the work I want to pursue for the rest of my life,” Matthew shares.
LOOKING BACK, MISTI NOT ONLY PROVIDES STUDENTS WITH AN OPPORTUNITY TO GROW ACADEMICALLY THROUGH RESEARCHING IN UNFAMILIAR CULTURES, BUT IT ALSO ENCOURAGES THEM TO GROW INTO CITIZENS AND ENGINEERS OF THE PLANET; PAVING THE ROAD FOR THEM TO CHANGE THE WORLD.
He also now feels that he has a second home – a home away from home – to which he eagerly hopes to return in the near future.