Materials Research Science and Engineering Center
Graduate Student

Nick Vasios
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Nick Vasios is a Ph.D. candidate in Mechanical Engineering at Harvard University's John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Nick graduated from the University of Thessaly in Greece in 2015 obtaining the diploma in Mechanical Engineering. Upon his arrival at Harvard, he joined the Katia Bertoldi group, and started a MRSEC IRG3 project in the field of soft robotics. Nick's research at Harvard focuses on the actuation of pneumatic soft robots and the design of novel tunable soft actuators using a combination of computational, experimental and theoretical tools. Soft robotic systems actuated through inflation are great candidates for producing sophisticated motions harnessing their inherent compliance. However, in most applications, actuating such soft robots is a complicated task requiring the individual control of the soft robot's constituents. Through his research, Nick aims to greatly simplify the actuation of pneumatic soft robots by harnessing fluid viscosity and structural nonlinearities to incorporate the actuation control directly within the soft robots' structure. Furthermore, he uses computational tools and simple experiments to understand and design a new class of soft actuators inspired by laminar, fiber and granular jamming. Such soft actuators exhibit a tunable stiffness that depends on the vacuum pressure applied in the jamming segments of the actuator and are great candidates for rehabilitation and assistive devices.

Additionally, Nick has continuously collaborated with and advised summer students and visiting students. Nick has advised undergraduate students for their senior thesis research, masters students for their master thesis research as well as summer students as a part of MRSEC's REU program (Above: Nick (left) with Brad Eisenschenk (REU from the Univ. of Minnesota-Twin Cities and former U.S. Marine)). He has also mentored high school students from North Shore Hebrew Academy High School. Nick has presented his work at the annual technical meeting of the Society of Engineering Science (SES 2017), at the International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition (ASME IMECE 2017) as well as at New.Mech, New England's annual workshop on mechanics.