Soft Robotic Exoskeleton for Elbow Assistance; Looking at the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Explosions using Virtue Ethics

Lyerly, James, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Sun, Sarah, EN-Mech/Aero Engr Dept, University of Virginia
Laugelli, Benjamin, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia

My technical project is connected to my STS research because both cover aspects of releasing new technology into the world. My STS research inspects some of the virtues that are necessary to properly do this, and how Samsung failed or succeeded in these virtues with the release of the Galaxy Note 7. I hope that by looking at how Samsung applied or did not apply these virtues, I was able to better follow the proper virtues in my technical project. In this sense, my STS research covers the pure research of the virtues and my technical work covers the applied research of the same virtues.
My technical work was the creation of a soft robotic exoskeleton in order to assist patients with neuromuscular disorders. My capstone group worked on the elbow portion of this arm, in tandem with teams working on the shoulder and sensing portions of this arm. With all of these sections combined, we would be able to greatly increase the upper-limb motion of patients with limited upper arm strength. My capstone group decided that we would try to create the arm movement through the use of McKibben and thin McKibben muscles. McKibben muscles are a type of artificial muscle that are created by wrapping a sheath around an expandable tube. When the tube is pressurized, the sheath tightens and creates a contracting force. These muscles are simple to manufacture in addition to being lightweight and flexible. With these muscles, my capstone group was able to simulate upper arm flexion and extension, along with forearm pronation and supination.
My STS research focused on the application of virtue ethics onto the case of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7. In this case Samsung released the Galaxy Note 7, a phone that was soon known for an exploding battery. I found the application of virtue ethics to be very informative for this case because I was able to see very tangible ways in which a company can fail or succeed in following the proper virtues. Working through my paper gave me a better understanding of virtue ethics and its application in real life situations. I hope to be able to properly apply the researched virtues to my future work as an engineer.
Working on both projects simultaneously has given me the opportunity to experience the application of virtues in my own work. This is particularly true because our capstone project is based on helping other people, meaning that any design flaw that occurs directly negatively impacts others. With this being the case, I have to take a very close look at the virtues that are being applied or not being applied. At the same time, working on the capstone project gave me a better understanding of what virtues are important to look at for my STS research. Working on both of these projects at the same time has given me a better and more fleshed out understanding of both of them that I hope to apply to future engineering endeavors.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
exoskeleton, virtue ethics

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering
Technical Advisor: Sarah Sun
STS Advisor: Benjamin Laugelli
Technical Team Members: Anna Lewis, Daniela Mendez, Olivia Mabe, Matthew Luksik

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