GE 598 (GK): Compliant Mechanism Design Syllabus

GE 598 (GK): Compliant Mechanism Design (Fall 2015)



TTh 2-3.20 pm                                                                                   Instructor: Dr. Girish Krishnan

203 Transportation Bld,                                                                   314 Transportation Building

Office Hours: TBD                                                                   

Schedule for the class is available here.


This course deals with the use of material compliance or elasticity to design engineering components that mimics nature’s designs. Some of the specifics that the course will cover are:

  • Kinematics-based modeling techniques to analyze and synthesize compliant mechanisms.
  • Variational formulations and optimization modules for automated design synthesis of planar compliant topologies.
  • First-principles based rules for generating spatial compliant topologies. Eg: Constraint based design, visualization of load flow.
  • Applications in microsystems (MEMS), product design, precision motion stages, robotics etc.


Coursework will consist of roughly seven assignments and a final project. The project will involve utilization of course methodologies to design, analyze and fabricate a compliant mechanism for an application.


Prerequisites: Undergraduate mechanics, kinematics, linear algebra, and familiarity with a high-level programming language, preferably MATLAB.



Classification into lumped and distributed compliance; Pseudo-Rigid Body Models (PRBM) for analysis with emphasis on design synthesis; Variational formulations and nonlinear programming techniques for optimum topology and shape-size problems; Building block methods including constraint based design for synthesis using first principles; Examples of compliance in nature and engineering.


Reference Material:

Howell, L. L. (2001). Compliant mechanisms. Wiley-Interscience.

Blanding, D. L. (1999). Exact constraint: Machine design using kinematic processing. American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Howell, L. L., Magleby, S. P., & Olsen, B. M. (Eds.). (2013). Handbook of Compliant Mechanisms. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.



Matlab, and any finite element software



Five major homework assignments: 10% each.

One final project: 45%

Class Participation: 5%

Project will involve design of a compliant mechanism for an application. 5% will be assigned for problem description, 10% for systematic design process, 5% for software validation, 10% for prototyping, 10% for project documentation that will be evaluated through the quality of the final report, and 5% for final project presentation.