Shannon Danforth ’16 | University of Portland

Shannon Danforth ’16

Shannon DanforthPh.D. mechanical engineering student, University of Michigan

Major: Civil Engineering

I was first exposed to dynamic modeling as an undergraduate research assistant at UP. Now I am working toward a Ph.D. and doing research using dynamic modeling to increase safety and stability in systems.

For my senior design project, I teamed up with four other civil engineering students to design and fabricate a 1:10 scale steel bridge for the Student Steel Bridge Competition. We worked every day that year,  first designing, then working in the machine shop, and lastly practicing bridge construction.

I learned so much during that grueling year, through late nights of structural design and early mornings spent welding. My favorite moment was when we accomplished our goal—the bridge was able to withstand the 2,000-lb weight requirement. I know each of us still carry with us that dedicated mindset in our careers today.

I completed my master’s degree during my  first year at University of Michigan. Now in the Ph.D. program, I spend my time analyzing data from human motion experiments and discussing the math behind new methods of analysis. My work uses control theory to develop a quantitative measure of a person’s stability while they are in motion. My research is useful in assessing the performance of prosthetic devices and robotic exoskeletons as well as mitigating injury in at-risk populations, such as older adults or athletes. After graduation, I hope to gain more research experience by working in a lab and applying for a university faculty position.

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