Robert E. Skelton
Faculty-Emeritus, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Recently, Professor Skelton's work has focused on integrating system science and material science to create material systems. This is best accomplished using the tensegrity paradigm. Tensegrity is a malleable, flexible and adaptable structure which is composed of continuous strings and sticks. Based on the molecular structure of a spider's fiber, it can change shape by modifying the string tension. The easily adaptable features of tensegrity allows Materials Systems to be created that can modify their acoustic properties, their electromagnetic properties, and their mechanical properties. Tensegrity structures could be deployed into space as light-weight antennae, mirrors and satellites, or be used for airplane wings, water craft or anything else that needs to change shape to reduce drag. Built-in actuators, sensors and power storage devices make tensegrity structures a very attractive alternative to conventional designs for material systems.
Robert E. Skelton is the Daniel L. Alspach Professor of Dynamics Systems and Controls at the UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering. He joined UC San Diego in 1996, after serving as a professor of aeronautics and astronautics at Purdue University from 1975-1996. Skeltonbegan his career at the Marshall Space Flight Center, working first with Lockheed Missiles and Space Company and then Sperry Rand for 12 years. He has been involved with spacecraft control (SKLAB and Hubble Space Telescope) for many years and has served on the National Research Council's Aeronautics and Engineering Board. Skelton is a Fellow of AIAA and IEEE, and has published three books and more than 100 journal papers.