MMAE Seminar by Mr. Luke F. Gockowski: Designing Light–Material Interactions for Soft Robotics

Armour College of Engineering’s Department of Mechanical, Materials, and Aerospace Engineering will welcome Mr. Luke F. Gockowski, a Ph.D. candidate in mechanical engineering at the University of California Santa Barbara, to present a lecture, “Designing Light–Material Interactions for Soft Robotics.”

The virtual seminar will take place on Wednesday, December 1, 2021, from 3:30–4:30 p.m. Contact Elena Magnus at for the seminar details and a link to join.

As soft robots grow in popularity, so too does the use of light for their actuation and control. Rightly so, as light offers a broad spectrum of wavelengths that can be used to wirelessly address materials with high spatial and temporal specificity. In this talk, I showcase some of my work that leverages different facets of light to advance the field of soft robotics: (1) a stereolithographic technique to print stiff-soft multimaterial composites with tunable toughness; (2) a self-oscillating fluidic heat engine that uses negative photoswitches; and (3) a phase-change-based soft robot that locomotes using only sunlight—illustrating the benefits of careful thermodynamic analysis in soft robot design. These endeavors at the intersection of materials, mechanics, and chemistry not only advance foundational knowledge that enables the field of soft robotics, but also inspire new questions and avenues to meet growing demands for adaptive and autonomous materials and devices.

Mr. Gockowski is currently a PhD candidate in mechanical engineering at the University of California Santa Barbara. His PhD work began with a focus on mussel-inspired materials and has more recently pivoted towards light-material interactions for advancing soft robotics under the co-advisement of Dr. Megan Valentine and Dr. Elliot Hawkes. Prior to UCSB, he attained his B.S. in mechanical engineering from Penn State, where he performed research under Dr. Tak Sing Wong in the Wong Laboratory for Nature-Inspired Engineering. Outside of work, he’s an avid surfer, a dog enthusiast, and aspiring Mexican food aficionado.