Forty years of MEMS research at the Hilton Head Workshop

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Top photo: MSAL Lab members in Hilton Head. 2nd photo: Outstanding Poster Award winners. Declan M. Fitzgerald from Ryan Sochol’s Lab is third from left. 3rd photo: Outstanding Paper Award winners. Sunandita Sarker from Ryan Sochol’s Lab is second from right. Brian Holt from the MSAL Lab is next to her at right. Bottom photo: Joshua Levy from the MSAL Lab, center, with his Janusz Bryzek Award.

From June 2–6, the Transducer Research Foundation (TRF) marked the 40th anniversary of its flagship event, the Hilton Head Workshop. Officially known as the “Workshop on Solid-State Sensors, Actuators, and Microsystems,” it has been held in Hilton Head, S.C., every two years since its inception in 1984. The prestigious research-oriented agenda gives the international MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical) and Microsystems community a place to gather and discuss the Grand Challenges and societal impact of MEMS devices, technologies and systems.

Currently led by President Reza Ghodssi (ECE/ISR/Fischell Institute), the sponsoring organization TRF is dedicated to promoting research related to transducers, microsystems, and nanosystems. The Hilton Head Workshop brings together students and experts from academia, industry and government, with a particular emphasis on students. Because they are the future of the microsystems industry, the workshop encourages them to participate through training, mentoring, networking, and exchanging ideas.

“Hilton Head has been one of the incubators of new and self-sustaining technical areas in MEMS and microsystems,” Ghodssi wrote in TRF’s new historical perspective document. “As president, I have encouraged the current leaders of this thriving, relevant workshop to continue to reach out to researchers pursuing new areas. That is why we have been promoting Grand Challenges work that could one day impact society at large in our keynote talks and new focused topical workshops.”

MEMS and microsystems and their applications are found in many areas of research, both academic and industrial, and TRF’s mission is to promote the microsystems field. “MEMS devices and systems play vital roles in our everyday lives,” Ghodssi says, “from health care to environmental monitoring, to autonomous systems, to space exploration, to energy-efficient devices. We can no longer ignore the essential benefits they provide to humanity.”

The importance of this anniversary is being marked by MEMS@40, a special issue of IEEE Spectrum that presents articles from its archives detailing the people, the breakthroughs, and the applications that powered—and are powering—the MEMS revolution. It covers the history and significant impact of MEMS devices and systems in the past four decades.

University of Maryland participants

UMD faculty participating in the workshop were Pamela Abshire (ECE/ISR), Kevin Daniels (ECE), Ryan Sochol (ME), and Reza Ghodssi (ECE/ISR). Ghodssi’s MEMS Sensors and Actuators Lab (MSAL)—now celebrating its 25th year—gave four oral presentations and showed four posters at this very competitive workshop.

University of Maryland award winners

University of Maryland students won four awards; two were from Ryan Sochol’s group and two were from Reza Ghodssi’s MSAL Lab. View a list of all the 2024 award winners on the Hilton Head Workshop website. The UMD winners are:

(Janusz Bryzek Abundance through MEMS Award—student award) This award honors Janusz Bryzek, a pioneering and prolific MEMS entrepreneur who started 11 companies and was committed to the vision of Abundance. It recognizes emerging undergraduate and graduate researchers in MEMS and related fields whose work significantly contributes to the vision of Abundance. Abundance refers to a future in which—due to rapid developments in exponential technologies including MEMS—all of humanity has access to clean water, food, energy, health care, housing, education and everything needed to live an abundant, fulfilling life. Flexible Microinjector for Rapid Localized Drug Delivery from Ingestible Devices. Joshua Levy, MSAL Lab, University of Maryland.

(Outstanding Poster Award) Variable-Slope Reflective Surfaces for Optical System Testing via Novel Direct Laser Writing-Based Microreplication. Declan M. Fitzgerald1,2, Ryan D. Sochol1, and Anant Agrawal.2 1University of Maryland, USA and 2Food and Drug Administration, USA.

(Outstanding Paper Award) An Approach for 3D Microprinting of Soft Robotic Biopsy Tools at 1 French Length Scales via Ex Situ Direct Laser Writing. Sunandita Sarker1,2, Declan M. Fitzgerald1, Zachary Ferraro1, Olivia M. Young1, Bailey M. Felix1, and Ryan D. Sochol.1 1University of Maryland, USA and 2University of Massachusetts, USA.

(Outstanding Paper Award) Ingestible Device for Noise-Resilient Bioimpedance Monitoring in Gastrointestinal Tract. Brian M. Holt1, Justin M. Stine1, Luke A. Beardslee1, Jay Pasricha2, and Reza Ghodssi.1 1University of Maryland, USA and 2Mayo Clinic, USA.


Published June 12, 2024