Robert MacCurdy

Assistant Professor

Robert MacCurdy is an assistant professor in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder where he leads the Matter Assembly Computation Lab (MACLab). He is developing new tools to automatically design and manufacture robots, and automated methods to study animal behavior in the wild. Rob did his PhD work with Hod Lipson at Cornell University and his postdoctoral work at MIT with Daniela Rus. Funded by an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and a Liebmann Fund fellowship, his doctoral work demonstrated systems capable of automatically assembling functional electromechanical devices, with the goal of printing robots that literally walk out of the printer. During this time he also showed how to create very low-cost, low power, and low-mass radiofrequency tags, and developed an automated tracking system based on time-of-flight measurements. He holds a B.A. in Physics from Ithaca College, a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University, and an M.S. and PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University.

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Lawrence Smith

PhD Student

Lawrence is a PhD student working on automated design of soft robots. He builds finite element and material point method models of continuum mechanics problems.

He earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2014 and a M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from University of Colorado Boulder in 2019. In the interim period Lawrence worked at an engineering consulting firm designing numerical models to predict medical device performance.

In his free time Lawrence enjoys running, frisbee golf, and playing 8-ball pool.


Brandon Hayes

PhD Student

Brandon received a double major in biomedical engineering and microelectronics engineering from Rochester Institute of Technology. There, his interests centered around microfluidics and multi-physics processes. After a few internships out west in Oregon, Brandon decided to head out to Colorado for grad school as well as the mountains. Brandon’s research focus is on combining additive manufacturing with microfluidics as well as understanding and applications of thermal bubble-driven micro-pumps for microfluidics. In his free time, Brandon can likely be found swimming, hiking, exploring, and biking around in the nearby mountains (with Flagstaff being his current favorite for a quick evening ride).


Vidyacharan G. Venkata

PhD Student

Vidyacharan (VC) is a PhD student developing new materials for manufacturing soft robots and devices through multi-material inkjet printing. He works at the intersection of materials science and robotics to push machines towards the next stage of their evolution.

He earned his M.S in Mechanical Engineering from CU Boulder in 2018 during which he co-authored multiple papers on HASEL soft actuators. Prior to that, he worked as a researcher at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, on developing flexible electrochemical sensors for toxic gas detection. He earned his B.Tech in Mechatronics in 2016 from SASTRA University, India.


Travis Hainsworth

PhD Student

Travis uses additive manufacturing to develop process that can create more complex soft robots. Through the use of additive manufacturing, designs and geometries that would be near impossible to create with conventional manufacturing methods are now easy to make.

He is pursuing a PhD and he earned his M.S and B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Utah. There he studied how emotive gaits could be applied to a quadrupedal robot.


Colin Smith

Masters Student

Colin Smith is a Mechanical Engineering MS student with a concentration in Robotics at the University of Colorado Boulder and an alum of California Polytechnic State University with a BS in Mechanical Engineering. Colin’s research focuses on mechanical design automation through the use of evolutionary algorithms and optimization techniques with applications in multi-material 3D printed soft robots. Colin’s other research activities center around the application of mechanical design and simulation, electronics design, and embedded systems software development in the pursuit of advancing soft robotics technology.


Sean Connelly

Masters Student

Sean is currently a fourth year student pursuing his undergraduate and Master’s degree concurrently in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Colorado - Boulder.  He is currently working on designing a  verification software for volumetric modeling using voxels and is interested in design automation processes.  Sean likes to design and prototype musical instruments in his free-time and is the Technical Design lead for Engineers Without Borders - Rwanda at CU Boulder.  He looks forward to expanding his knowledge in the areas of research and additive manufacturing.


Zach Jordan

Masters Student

Zach is a lover of learning, who likes working in a multidisciplinary environment with the challenge of solving new and unknown problems.  He is especially interested in using novel 3D printing methods for robotics fabrication.  Outside of engineering, he loves the outdoors and extreme mountain sports and is a volunteer first responder/rescue technician for Boulder County.


Brady Kopec

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Brady is currently a second year undergraduate student of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He is excited to work with the MacCurdy Lab team in order to develop voxelization software. He looks forward to learning from his team and developing his skills as a researcher and engineer.


Lawson Nerenberg

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Lawson is currently a Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science undergrad student at CU Boulder. He utilizes experience in machine learning to research novel methods for generative design, and works towards involvement in hybrid material robotic control and design.


Xavier Bell

High School Research Assistant

I have always been fascinated with how things worked. Whether it was the inner workings of a pen, or what made the wind blow, I wanted to learn about it. I now am most intrigued by 3D printing and aerospace engineering. My ideal world is one in which we can use both fields of engineering harmoniously. Xavier has moved on to pursue his engineering goals at MIT.

MAC Lab Alumni


James Alex Hale

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Under the supervision and guidance of Dr. MacCurdy, Travis, and Lawrence, I worked with another undergrad to design, develop, create, assemble, and present a modular cyclic loading testing fixture. The fixture was to quantitatively assess lifespan and drive ongoing material and geometric optimization of multi-material additive-manufactured (MMAM) hydraulic bellows used in single-print soft material robotics. Performed design proposals and presentations, CAD design, mechanical assembly, electrical assembly, component creation and procurement, microprocessor coding, team collaboration. Continued but did not complete a similar modular test fixture for fatigue analysis of 3D-printed ball bearings.


Sebastian Alexander

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Sebastian’s time in the MAC Lab was spent supporting Travis Hainsworth’s research and development of the print-in-place, self-sensing pneumatic actuators. This included gathering data from the integrated strain gauges, characterizing their behavior, and investigating alternative materials for use in the strain gauges. Working closely with the actuators and FDM machines that bring them to life sparked an interest in mechatronics, furthered by his senior project, classwork, and personal projects. Since graduating in May 2020, Sebastian has been working in commercial product design and development, and now works as a mechanical engineer at Roccor, a local company developing state of the art deployable space structures.