Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering

Faculty Candidate Seminar


Enhancing Human Anatomy to Improve Bionic Integration


Dr. Tyler Clites


University of Michigan


Wednesday, March 13, 2019 at 2:00:00 PM


MRDC Building, Room 4211


Dr. Gregory Sawicki


For thousands of years, humans have built devices such as prostheses and orthoses to improve mobility and locomotion. Although many of these efforts have resulted in enhanced functionality, they have been fundamentally constrained by limitations of the human physique. Rather than engineering mechatronic devices within such anatomical limits, I alter the body to improve the interface between human and machine. My work is focused on synchronizing the efforts of surgeons and mechatronic engineers to enable co-development of body and machine, in pursuit of bionic performance that is superior to what is possible with mechatronics alone. In this seminar, I will present the Agonist-antagonist Myoneural Interface (AMI), a new approach to limb amputation surgery and myoelectric control that enables bi-directional neural communication of joint position, speed, and torque between a prosthetic limb and the human nervous system. I will show data highlighting the potential of the AMI to improve volitional prosthetic control, preserve essential reflexes, and facilitate a patient’s embodiment of their prosthetic limb. I will also discuss additional applications in which enhanced human anatomy can be leveraged for new solutions to long-standing problems in the field of physical rehabilitation and human augmentation.


Tyler Clites builds human cyborgs. After graduating from Harvard in 2014 with a B.S. in Biomedical and Mechanical Engineering, Tyler earned his PhD in 2018 from the Harvard/MIT program in Health Sciences and Technology. He carried out his doctoral research in the Biomechatronics Group (Professor Hugh Herr, MIT Media Lab) where he developed novel techniques for limb amputation surgery, with the goal of improving the neural and mechanical interfaces between persons with amputation and their prosthetic devices. As of January 2019, Tyler is a postdoc at the University of Michigan (Professor Elliott Rouse, Mechanical Engineering), where he is focused on the mechanical design of advanced prosthetic limbs. His work has been funded by DARPA and other mechanisms within the Department of Defense, as well as the NIH. Tyler is an NSF graduate research fellow and was recently awarded the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for excellence in invention.


Refreshments will be served.