Life in space. It seems like a far away dream, right? Not for Carnegie Mellon’s team of five engineering master’s students who recently won the HP-Intel Life in Space Design Challenge.

Master’s students Eugene Yu (Mechanical Engineering), Deepshikha Acharya (Biomedical Engineering), Vishaal Dhamotharan (BME), Kevin Wang (MechE), and Cecilia Ferrando (Architecture) designed “Muscle Maximus,” a self-sustaining wearable resistance system to enhance muscle activity in space. It consists of wearable components that offer resistance to limb movements, thereby simulating a one gram workload for astronauts in space. The project was selected as a finalist by judges from HP and Intel and took home the grand prize after winning the public vote.

“Muscle Maximus,” a self-sustaining wearable resistance system to enhance muscle activity in space

Source: Carnegie Mellon University College of Engineering

“Muscle Maximus” is a joint-based brace that supports knee and elbow joints, shoulders, and the upper back.

In April 2016, NASA chose HP’s ZBook Mobile Workstations to send to the International Space Station and its five core space agencies. The workstations are helping astronauts with mission command and control, experiment support, health monitoring, and even growing food in space. 

HP and Intel have now challenged students from eight colleges and universities around the country to share their visions for improving life in space by using the HP ZBook Studio Mobile Workstation powered by Intel processor technology.

The teams must design a manufacturable product to improve the quality of life for astronauts in space. Submissions are broken down by three phases over the course of the seven-week challenge and must include CAD design files, design overview content, and videos about the teams.

Carnegie Mellon’s project not only addresses issues faced by astronauts, but also fills a need for those with muscle atrophy here on earth. “Muscle Maximus” is a joint-based brace that supports knee and elbow joints, shoulders, and the upper back. The joint assembly uses fins that move against a viscous, or thick, fluid when a joint extends and flexes, offering resistance to movement. A ball-socket brace is used for the shoulder. The socket has a micro-patterned rough surface that resists relative movement of the ball requiring the astronaut to exert greater force. Viscous fluid-filled bands on the upper back offer resistance to shoulder blades as they squeeze and depress.

Each participant from the winning team will receive a prize package including one HP ZBook Studio Mobile Workstation with the Thunderbolt 3 dock and a four-day trip to Orlando with a tour of Cape Canaveral and a day at Epcot for an exclusive HP Mission Mars Experience.

Congratulations to the Carnegie Mellon team on their win!