Julieth Ochoa

julieth-ochoa-2

Mechanical Engineering
PhD Candidate
3rd Year

HOMETOWN: I was born and raised in Cuba and then came to the U.S. at the age of 21. I lived in Miami, Florida upon arriving to this country.

UNDERGRADUATE INSTITUTION: Worcester Polytechnic Institute

WHAT SPARKED YOUR INTEREST IN YOUR CURRENT FIELD/WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT IT? 

Growing up I always showed great interest for science-related projects that involved becoming familiar with new technologies and attempting to find simple yet creative solutions to typical everyday problems at home such as fixing the doorbell or an old radio. It seemed very clear I would pursue a career in an engineering field. I went to Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) for my undergraduate education and majored in Robotics Engineering. At WPI I became fascinated with the countless applications of robotics to the medical field, especially with the development of prosthetics and wearable robots that could facilitate human rehabilitation. Upon completing my junior year at WPI, I interned at the Haptics Lab at the University of Pennsylvania working on a novel gait rehabilitation robot for stroke patients. It was then that I fell in love with human locomotion and motor control research, so I decided to further my education by pursuing a graduate degree in Mechanical Engineering.

PERSONAL RESEARCH SUMMARY:

My research at MIT has focused on characterizing the dominant control architecture of human locomotion. In my most recent work, I conducted experiments with human subjects walking on a treadmill and overground while wearing an exoskeletal ankle robot that exerted period mechanical perturbations to the ankle joint. To the best of my knowledge, my experimental study of human locomotion was the first to demonstrate the significant sensitivity of the limit-cycle neuro-mechanical oscillator in human walking to different environments: overground vs. treadmill. Based on these results, I believe an integrative description of the control architecture underlying human locomotion is within reach. Thus, it is my goal to develop a comprehensive human walking descriptive model to be applied in legged locomotion research, lower-extremity robotic therapy, exoskeleton design, and powered-prosthetic development.

PERSONAL INTERESTS: In my free time, I love to explore new places in the New England area with my husband. I enjoy sailing on the Charles River with friends.