Yuan Zheng Named 2016 Innovator of the Year

Congratulations to Professor Yuan Zheng, Winbigler Chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering, for being named The Ohio State University’s 2016 Innovator of the Year!


2016 Innovator of the Year award winner Yuan Zheng, Electrical and Computer Engineering, with Senior Vice President for Research Caroline Whitacre and Associate Dean of Engineering Randy Moses

On January 25, Dr. Caroline Whitacre, senior vice president for research, delivered the annual state of research address titled “Creative Partnerships, Meaningful Impact,” followed by the awarding of the university’s 2016 Innovator of the Year, Early Career Innovator of the Year and Student Innovator of the Year awards.


Dr. Zheng has been a leader in robotics research for more than 35 years, creating innovative structures and mechanisms for robotics in industrial, defense and service applications. In 2014, Zheng developed the Circular Wave Drive (CWD), a compact and co-axial gear head that allows for speed reduction in rotational motions. Speed reducers represent 36% of the total cost of an industrial robot. Yuan’s CWD was developed as a replacement for the traditional Harmonic Drive Gear (HDG) technology used widely in the robotics industry. The HDG technology uses a special metal alloy that has to be replaced every two years and requires expensive high precision machining.


Zheng’s CWD technology overcomes the shortcomings of the HDG. He developed a low-cost, compact, highly-efficient, ruggedized speed reducing gear system. He increased torque capacity and the life span of the gear by eliminating the use of flexible materials in the design. This invention could mean the formation of a new market of ultra-fast, high-precision steering and automation beyond robotic joints.


IKOVE, a local venture capital company, licensed his technology from the university in 2015 and founded a start-up company called CWD LLC. One U.S. patent and one international patent have been filed. Funding from the Ohio Third Frontier’s Technology Validation and Start-up Fund was used to design and fabricate a prototype CWD.


The 2016 Early Career Innovator of the Year is Lise Worthen-Chaudhari, research assistant professor in physical medicine and rehabilitation and associate director of the Human Motion Analysis and Recovery Laboratory. The 2016 Student Innovator of the Year is Jacaob Mendlovic, a recent Ohio State honors graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering and a minor in nuclear engineering.


For learn more about all of this year’s award winners, visit the Office of Research’s website: http://research.osu.edu/2017/01/yuan-zheng-lise-worthen-chaudhari-and-jacob-mendlovic-named-2016-innovators-of-the-year/ 

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