Bridging Biomedical Research with Aerospace Engineering in the Lab of tomorrow.


“My goal with this lab is to take biomedical research and tie it into a school that is grounded in aerospace and aeronautical engineering,” says Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Daytona Beach Campus, Christine Walck. “How do I make that connection? That’s the question I’ve been working on for the past couple of years with Vicon.”

Walck has been at Embry-Riddle for four years, following eight years working as a mechanical engineer at the Tactical Electronic Warfare Division – Vehicle Research Section of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. Her work at Embry-Riddle covers biomechanics, computer science, imaging, and neuroscience to study muscle function, analyze human movement, improve rehabilitation protocols, and optimize human performance.

For Walck, that list of specializations sits under a larger goal: “My aim is to make sure that we can take biomedical work into the space and aeronautics world. We are really integrating biomedical with aerospace, showing that there is a fit. Vicon is a tool that we can use to further that goal.”

A number of the projects being worked on in Walck’s lab span both worlds, while some lean in one direction or the other.

To facilitate the dual purposes of the lab, Walck has two Vicon systems running in parallel within the same space. “We have two separate Lock Labs, so they’re two separate systems, but they can act as one,” explains Walck. “There are 12 Vantage cameras all along the perimeter of the ceiling which we use for flight testing and robotics. There are eight Veros on the tripods for human clinical trials and small robotics. We have two video recorders and then we have the AMTI force plates and Delsys EMG system. Our back bay door opens up all the way, so you could study sports movements like pitching.”

The Vantage system runs on Tracker, while the Veros work with Nexus, with post-processing software using OpenSim 4.0 (musculoskeletal modeling) and EMGworks software rounding out the workflow.

One of the things that made this hybrid lab possible was the versatility of its Vicon cameras. “Vicon is not limited to your lab. You can go outside with these cameras, which is incredible because Embry-Riddle grew really fast. We have so much going on that we’re always looking for a new space. When you can work outside, and when you can have flight and biomechanics in one lab, that’s a huge asset. It’s affordable, allowing research to never be limited. Vicon allows our researchers to not have to sacrifice anything in their work.” says Walck.

Another key element of the lab’s success is the support Walck receives from Vicon. “University professors tend not to learn hardware or software. Their students do,” says Walck. “But then the students graduate, and if the student doesn’t teach the next group, the technology sits there and collects dust. But then when I’m on my next project, I’m left wondering ‘What was that pipeline again?’ So I will call our rep and say ‘I need some help!’ And he will walk me through everything. This man is why we are able to grow so much. He’s incredible. Our sales manager is also super-helpful.”

The story doesn’t stop there, to read the full case study, you can download it below.


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