A. Michael West: Advancing human-robot interactions in health care
MIT mechanical engineering PhD Candidate and 2022 Jameel Clinic Takeda Fellow, A. Michael West discusses his current research in healthcare robotics, which aims to support individuals who have suffered orthopaedic or neurological injury.
"I’m trying to understand how humans control and manage their movement from a mathematical standpoint,” says West. “If you have a way of quantifying the movement, then you can measure it better and implement that to robotics, to make better devices to help in rehabilitation.'
West credits the Takeda Fellowship for giving him space to focus on his research, the nature of which is particularly time-intensive.
"How do people control these complex, subconscious systems? Understanding that is a slow-going process. A lot of the findings build on each other. You have to have a solid understanding of what is known, what is a working hypothesis, what is testable, what is not testable, and how to bring the non-testable to testable," West explains, noting, 'We won’t understand how humans control movement in my lifetime."
West provides advice for students who are engaged with complicated subject matter, saying, "Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There’s always going to be someone who’s better at something than you are, and that’s a good thing. If there weren’t, life would be a little boring."