Meet Gheorghe Bunget
Doctoral student, Gheorghe Bunget (Mechanical Engineering), took second place in the Engineering category during this spring’s Graduate Student Research Symposium for his research on “BATMAV, a Biologically-Inspired Micro-Air Vehicle for flapping flight.”
Bunget said he returned to his education in mechanical engineering after eight years working in the industry because he wanted to pursue an academic career. From his native Romania, he moved to North Carolina to attend NC State University.
In the field of micro-aerial vehicles, Bunget’s research has contributed several additions to previous study and design. Like other researchers, he looked at small, flying animals for kinematic and aerodynamic performance cues, but Bunget adapted additional traits from the natural flyers.
“Our research is a step forward in designing wings that have elbow and wrist joints, like the natural flyers, which provide a high maneuverability and aerodynamic performance,” he said.
For Bunget’s robotic flyer, named BATMAV, he studied the flapping motion of the bat wing and the “significant parameters” necessary to approximate that in his robot.
“Using Shape Memory Alloys (SMA) wires with a diameter of 50 microns as muscles we [were] able to create a very light and flexible flight platform,” Bunget said. “We were able to use rapid prototyping technology to design a bone-like wing structure and smart materials for joints, muscles and wing membrane, like passive electro-active polymer. From my viewpoint, it would not be possible to mimic nature without the use of smart materials and structures.”
BATMAV is not only an effective imitation of flyers found in nature, it also has significant applications in the reconnaissance and search-and-rescue fields.
“Our robotic flyer can be used in reconnaissance in dangerous places … to detect chemical or biological agents, as well as, for search-and-rescue in confined spaces and burning or collapsed buildings.”
From his poster presentation, Bunget said he appreciated the challenge of synthesizing his research – something he did not have to employ as fully in his previous three poster presentations.
“I had to think and rethink such that I would present the key points without missing significant information,” he said. “This experience helped me to gain an overall vision of my work and to present it in a way that could be understandable to people from other research areas.”
In his spare time, Bunget enjoys spending time with his seven-year-old daughter, whether they create robot projects or play ping-pong and tennis.
“We spend time trying to make tiny mobile toy robots that move around,” he said.
And with the same passion as Bunget approaches his research and his family, he said he would offer the same advice to his fellow graduate students. By looking for the good throughout the experience, he said, then lessons can be learned and progress made.
“We should look for [the positive] such that we may develop passion for what we do, since without it we cannot unlock our inner ideas that … motivate us to put ‘muscle’ in our work and help us not to quit when things are rough.”
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