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Robotics Institute Seminar, September 25, 1998
Robotics Institute
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh PA 15213-3891
412/268-8525 . 412/268-5576 (fax)

This page is provided for historical and archival purposes only. While the seminar dates are correct, we offer no guarantee of informational accuracy or link validity. Contact information for the speakers, hosts and seminar committee are certainly out of date.

Microelectromechanical Systems

Dr. Kaigham J. Gabriel, Professor
Electrical and Computer Engineering and The Robotics Institute
Carnegie Mellon University

Place and Time
Adamson Wing, Baker Hall
Refreshments 3:45 pm
Talk 4:00 pm

As information systems increasingly leave fixed locations and appear in our pockets and palms, they are getting closer to the physical world, creating new opportunities for perceiving and controlling our machines, structures and environments. To exploit these opportunities, information systems will need to sense and act as well as compute. Investing engineered systems with the ability to sense and act is the focus for the impact microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) will have on the nature of engineering education and practice.

MEMS is a revolutionary enabling technology that merges computation and communication with sensing and actuation to change the way people and machines interact with the physical world. Using the same fabrication processes and materials that are used to make microelectronic devices, MEMS conveys the advantages of miniaturization, multiple components, and integrated microelectronics to the design and construction of integrated electromechanical systems. Widespread applications of MEMS include: miniature inertial measurement units for personal navigation, mass data storage devices, miniature analytical instruments, fiber-optic network switches, displays, electromechanical signal processing, on demand structural strength and distributed/unattended sensors for process, system and environmental monitoring.

The future and real promise of MEMS will be in our ability to design systems of components with thousands to millions of electromechanical parts integrated with electronics to create MEMS arrays that have a systems function greater than the sum of the individual parts. This next stage in the evolution and maturity of MEMS will be driven less by captive fabrication facilities and process development and more by innovative, aggressive electromechanical systems design. MEMS is poised to take full advantage of advances in information technology and couple them to advances in robotics and control theory to drive a fundamentally new approach to electromechanical system design and fabrication. For the first time, approaches akin to VLSI electronics can be taken to usher in an equally exciting and productive era of VLSI electromechanics.

Speaker Biographies
Kaigham J. Gabriel (Ken) is Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering and the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. He received his S.M. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1985 he joined AT&T Bell Labs in the Robotic Systems Research Department, where he started the silicon MEMS effort, and led a group of researchers in exploring and developing IC-based MEMS for applications in photonic and network systems. During a sabbatical year from Bell Labs, Dr. Gabriel was a Visiting Associate Professor at the Institute of Industrial Science, University of Tokyo in Japan. After leaving Bell Laboratories in 1991, he spent a year as a visiting scientist at the Naval Research Laboratory transferring micromechanics processing technology to the Nanoelectronics Processing Facility. From 1992 to 1997, Dr. Gabriel was at DARPA, started and managed the Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS) Program (1992-1996) taking it from zero to over $70M/year and over 80 projects in 1997; then as Deputy Director of the Electronics Technology Office (1995-1996), and finally as Director of the Electronics Technology Office (1996-1997).

Speaker Appointments
For appointments, please contact the speaker, Kaigham J. Gabriel, at kgabriel@ri.cmu.edu.

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