Grad Profile - Ashley Armstrong

Ashley Armstrong

Why Mechse?

My goal in graduate school was to combine my interests in controls to the biological field, and the immense amount of collaboration at Illinois within MechSE has allowed me to pursue both paths. Professor Alleyne and Professor Wagoner Johnson offered me the opportunity to do research at the intersection of biomechanics and control theory, which are two areas I am very passionate about. After my first year of graduate school, I have thoroughly enjoyed working with both of my advisors and all of my labmates, and have found that the culture within MechSE at Illinois fits my personality and my goals. Through my research and studies, I have had extensive hands-on experience, which was one of my main goals for graduate school. Further, the assistance from faculty members both within and outside the classroom has helped expand my learning capabilities beyond my expectations. A few MechSE faculty members have assisted me with projects outside of coursework and my research projects. I feel very fortunate to have been given this opportunity, and look forward to continuing my graduate studies within the MechSE department.

Previous Institutions

BS mechanical engineering, University of Notre Dame, 2015

Research Projects

My research is focused on the fields of controls and biomechanics, and I am currently working on dynamic modeling and control of a micro robotic deposition system, with bone scaffold manufacturing as the target application. A bone scaffold is an implanted artificial structure to direct growth and formation of bone through integration with the host bone. In micro robotic deposition, a low binder content colloidal ink is extruded through a cylindrical nozzle in a defined trajectory. The rods of ink are deposited in a layer-by-layer sequence to form a three-dimensional structure. The colloidal ink has tailored viscoelastic properties which facilitate a smooth flow through the nozzle, while maintaining stiffness after extrusion to span gaps. Layer defects, resulting from fluctuations in process parameters, can’t be eliminated in an open-loop control system. I would like to develop feedback methods for online close- loop control. Although the bone scaffolding application is targeted, these feedback methods will help improve bioprinting in general. Further, my work aims to facilitate the transition of micro robotic deposition technology from the research bench to a mass manufacturing environment.

Faculty Advisors

Andrew Alleyne Amy Wagoner Johnson


National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow (2015); Tau Beta Pi Laureate (2015); National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Postgraduate Scholarship (2015); Atlantic Coastal Conference (ACC) Postgraduate Scholarship (2015); Capital One Academic All American (2013, 2014, 2015)

Other Activities

I played competitive golf for 12 years and was the captain of the women's golf team at Notre Dame. Outside of course and lab work, you can find me on the golf course, playing with my dog Marshmallow, cooking, or working out. I also really enjoy organizing and participating in STEM outreach, and co founded a graduate student outreach organization at Illinois called ENVISION (ENgineers Volunteering In STEM educatION).