Dynamics, Controls and Human Machine Interaction

The time evolution (dynamics) and control of natural and designed systems is fundamental to all engineering and science. In recent decades much of the attention has been directed toward nonlinear systems, autonomous, uninhabited, or remotely controlled systems robotics and the interface between humans and machines. Duke has one of the leading research groups in these developments.

Dynamics, controls and human machine interaction research in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science centers on several areas including:

  • Modeling and control of complex dynamical systems
  • Control of structure-borne noise
  • Fluid-structure interaction (aeroelasticity)
  • Noise and vibration suppression
  • Nonlinear dynamics and chaos
  • Robotics

Examples of research projects include active control and closed-loop identification of aeroelastic instabilities in a variety of transportation vehicles; active control of sound transmission, optimal collocated and multivariable hybrid active-passive vibration control design; approximate dynamic programming; reconfigurable control of morphing aircraft; on-line learning in neural and Baysian networks; sensor planning for integrated surveillance systems; intelligent systems for criminal profiling; sensor modeling, data acquisition and management, data fusion in the context of swarm robotics; and coordination and control of multiple robots in flight and on the ground.

Opportunities for Graduate Study

The departments offers an M.S./Ph.D. study track in mechanical engineering with a core in mechanics, dynamics and controls that encompasses acoustics, control, dynamics, intelligent systems, and robotic control and automation.

The department also offers a program of study towards the Masters of Engineering (M.Eng) in Mechanical Engineering. This 30-credit degree program includes course work towards departmental requirements, an area of specialization, business and management fundamentals, and an internship or applied research experience. Students have the flexibility to specialize on topics of dynamics, acoustics, intelligent systems, and robotic control and automation relevant to preparation for an applied engineering career.


Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
William Holland Hall Professor of Mechanical Engineering in the Edmund T. Pratt, Jr. School of Engineering
Broad field of aeroelasticity, acoustics, nonlinear dynamics, structural dynamics, and unsteady aerodynamics.
Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
Design and analysis of methods and algorithms for learning and computational intelligence. Theory and approximation properties of network models, such as neural and probabilistic networks, for the purpose of enhancing their learning abilities and improving reliability. Approximate dynamic...
Yoh Family Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Structural dynamics, earthquake engineering, seismic hazard mitigation for building contents, nonlinear dynamics, system identification, optimal control with application to systems with controllable damping.
Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Research interests include robot motion planning and control, semiautonomous robots, and integrating perception and planning. Past applications of this research have included automated vehicle collision avoidance, robotic manipulation, robot-assisted medicine, and legged locomotion.
Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
Hydroelastic modeling of deformable structures, transport in thermal and chemical systems, experimental and computational fluid dynamics, nonlinear and complex systems, heat and mass transport in biological systems, stability of fluid motions, machine learning, data mining, econophysics, reduced...
Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
Fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, heat transfer, and dynamics
Jeffrey N. Vinik Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science
Nonlinear dynamics and vibration utilizing analytical, numerical, and experimental techniques. Fundamental investigations of phenomenon and application areas where dynamical systems theory plays an important role.
Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
Professor Virgin's research is centered on studying the behavior of nonlinear dynamical systems. This work may be broadly divided into two components. First, investigation of the fundamental nature of nonlinear systems based on a mathematical description of their underlying equations of motion....
Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
Our group currently has two main research activities. Project #1. Development of single cell random access memory. The goal of this project is to develop an automated system for reading and writing single cells (e.g., immune cells, yeast cells, etc.) to arbitrary sites on a micro fabricated chip...
Assist Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
A range of topics in the emerging discipline of networked dynamical systems, which studies systems of physical agents interacting via a communication medium in search of joint control principles that determine network behavior. Focus on robotic and sensor networks, with applications in formation...