MMAE Seminar by Luke F. Gockowski: Designing Light—Material Interactions for Soft Robotics



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Armour College of Engineering’s Department of Mechanical, Materials, and Aerospace Engineering will welcome Luke F. Gockowski, a Ph.D. candidate in mechanical engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara to present a lecture, “Designing Light–Material Interactions for Soft Robotics.”

The virtual seminar will take place on Wednesday, December 1, 2021, from 3:30–4:30 p.m. Contact Elena Magnus at for the seminar details and a link to join.


As soft robots grow in popularity, so, too, does the use of light for their actuation and control. Rightly so, as light offers a broad spectrum of wavelengths that can be used to wirelessly address materials with high spatial and temporal specificity. In this talk, Gockowski will showcase some of his work that leverages different facets of light to advance the field of soft robotics: a stereolithographic technique to print stiff-soft multimaterial composites with tunable toughness; a self-oscillating fluidic heat engine that uses negative photoswitches; and a phase-change-based soft robot that locomotes using only sunlight—illustrating the benefits of careful thermodynamic analysis in soft robot design. These endeavors at the intersection of materials, mechanics, and chemistry not only advance foundational knowledge that enables the field of soft robotics, but also inspire new questions and avenues to meet growing demands for adaptive and autonomous materials and devices.


Gockowski is currently a Ph.D. candidate in mechanical engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His Ph.D. work began with a focus on mussel-inspired materials and has more recently pivoted toward light-material interactions for advancing soft robotics under the co-advisement of Megan Valentine and Elliot Hawkes. Prior to UCSB, he attained his B.S. in mechanical engineering from Pennsylvania State University, where he performed research under Tak Sing Wong in the Wong Laboratory for Nature-Inspired Engineering. Outside of work, he’s an avid surfer, a dog enthusiast, and aspiring Mexican food aficionado.


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