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Scott Pierce

School of Engineering + Technology
Assistant Professor


Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology
M.S.E., Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology
B.S., Physics, Georgia State University
B.S.M.E., Georgia Institute of Technology

Previous Teaching and Industry Work

Sweet Briar College (2007-2015), Department of Engineering and Physics, Associate Professor
Microwave Instrumentation Technologies, L.L.C. (April 1999 – September 2005), Senior Mechanical Staff Engineer
Astechnologies, Inc. (March 1997 - March 1999): Project Engineer
Porex Technologies (March 1984 - March 1990): Manufacturing Process Development Engineer

Teaching Interests and Philosophy

Teaching engineering in a way that gets undergraduates excited about profession and prepares them for the practice of engineering. Bring experiences as a practicing engineer into the classroom and to show students that engineering is a meaningful, rewarding profession.

Allowing students to reflect on the critical role that engineers play in shaping society and how the study of engineering can lead to opportunities to make a difference in the world.

Project and design skills are important, however the focus on learning to solve one type of problem then moving on to another does not reflect engineering practice. In practice, a design problem is a system of interconnected, multi-disciplinary sub- problems. Information is usually “soft” and problem constraints are often not well defined. Problem solving in this environment requires creativity and intuition that are best learned through experience. Students should develop these skills by working on open-ended problems for which there is no “right” answer but which require students to search among assumptions and solution methods for the best answer that they can find.

The majority of engineering graduates move into industry upon graduation. An important role of the engineering professor is to help students learn the skills that they need to be comfortable and confident in an industrial setting. This means that a student should have a strong background in engineering science; it also means that students should be literate in the language of mechanical engineering, capable of using the tools of the trade, and confident in their communication skills. I work to maintain strong ties to industry and to act as a bridge between the academic world and the industrial world. I actively solicit input and project problems from industrial sources and find opportunities for students to present their work to practicing engineers. This involvement exposes students to the components, processes and solution methods that make up the practicing engineer’s toolbox.

Research and Professional Interests

Recently, my students and I have worked on a project to capture and analyze myoelectric signals that are generated in the muscles of the forearm when a series of different hand gestures are performed. This work has potential application in the development of relatively simple, inexpensive controls for powered, upper-limb prosthetics. Recent improvements in the functionality of powered prosthetics have lead to an increase in their use for upper-limb amputees. Prosthetics that are currently available require the use of a secondary input device such as a smartphone with a suitable app in order to generate different hand gestures. Primary control of these devices is accomplished using a single pair of surface electrodes that are in contact with the user’s residual limb. The signal from this pair of electrodes is sufficient to actuate the prosthesis, however it is not yet possible to differentiate between intended hand gestures using this signal alone. Other researchers have had some success in gesture differentiation using an array of several electrode pairs positioned over the users’ upper body. Others have used an array of electrodes that are surgically implanted into the user’s residual limb and upper body. These approaches are promising, however they are unwieldy and expensive, and in the latter case involve invasive surgery. The goal of our research is to maximize the information that is extracted from the signal generated by a single electrode pair. To date, we have constructed an apparatus to capture the raw signal from the electrodes at the instant the test subject performs a hand gesture. We have collected many signals that were generated using a set of four different hand gestures and we have analyzed them in both the time and frequency domains.

I am currently working on a project to design, prototype and patent an automobile repair safety system. This project started when I was approached by a local business owner who sells equipment to garages.

Sample Publications:

Pierce, R.S., Whitener, C., Kaul, S., “Semi-Active Damping for an Off-Road Bicycle Suspension: An Experimental Study,” Proceedings of the ASME 2018 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, August, 2018 (accepted).

Pierce, R.S., Nathan, R., Howard, W., Sylcott, B., “Machine Design: Different Pedagogical Approaches to Achieve Targeted Outcomes,”  Proceedings of the 2018 ASEE Summer Annual Conference, June, 2018 (accepted).

Stone, W., Kaul, S, Pierce, R.S., “Promoting Innovation in a Junior-Level, Multidisciplinary, Electro-Mechanical Design Course,” Proceedings of the 2018 ASEE Summer Annual Conference, June, 2018 (accepted).

Pierce, R.S., Ireton, C., Tanaka, M. L., Hudson, D., “Development of a Head Support Device for People with Hypermobility-type Ehler-Danlos Syndrome,” Proceedings of the Summer Biomechanics, Bioengineering and Biotransport Conference, June, 2017.

Pierce, R.S., Kaul, S., Stone, W.L., “Integration of Engineering Theory and Practice in a Junior-Level Machine Design Course.”  Proceedings of the 2017 ASEE Summer Annual Conference, June, 2017.

Kaul, S., Yang, W., Pierce, R.S., Stone, W.L., “Impact of Class Size on Student Perception of Learning and Learning Outcomes in Project-based Learning.” Proceedings of the 2017 ASEE Summer Annual Conference, June, 2017.

Moore, J.P., Pierce, R.S., Williams, C.B., “Towards an “Adaptive Concept Map”: Creating an Expert-Generated Concept Map of an Engineering Statics Curriculum,” Proceedings of the 2012 ASEE Annual Conference, June, 2012.

Pierce, R.S., Yochum, H.M., “ Engaging Engineering Students in a Design-Based Service Learning Course Emphasizing Connections between Technology and Society,” Proceedings of the 2010 ASEE Annual Conference, June, 2010.

Pierce, R.S. and Rosen, D.W., “A Method for Integrating Form Errors Into Geometric Tolerance Analysis,” ASME Journal of Mechanical Design, Vol. 130, Issue 1, 2008.

Pierce, R.S. and Rosen, D.W., “Simulation of Mating Between Non-Analytic Surfaces Using a Mathematical Programming Formulation,” ASME Journal of Computing and Information Science in Engineering, Vol. 7, Issue 4, 2007.

Pierce, R.S. and Langston, J., “Implementation of a Geometric-Error Correction System for Extremely High Probe Position Accuracy in Spherical Near-Field Scanning”, Proceedings of the 26th Annual Antenna Measurement Techniques Association Symposium, October, 2004.

Pierce, R.S. and Bagget, M., “An Efficient and Highly Accurate Technique for Periodic Planar Scanner Calibration with the Antenna under Test in Situ”, Proceedings of the 26th Annual Antenna Measurement Techniques Association Symposium, October, 2004.

Pierce, R.S. and Liang, C., “Alignment of a Large, Spherical Near-Field Scanner Using a Tracking Laser Interferometer”, Proceedings of the 25th Annual Antenna Measurement Techniques Association Symposium, October, 2003.

Pierce, R.S. and Rosen, D. W., "NURBS-Based Variational Modeling as a Tool for the Analysis of Geometric Tolerances," Proceedings of the ASME Design Automation Conference, Sacramento, paper #DETC/DAC-3993, Sept. 14-17, 1997.

Pierce, R.S. and Rosen, D. W., "A Method for Integrating Manufacturing Form Errors into Tolerance Analysis," Proceedings Flexible Automation and Intelligent Manufacturing (FAIM 97) Conference, pp. 249-260, Middlesbrough, United Kingdom, June 25-27, 1997.

Pierce, R.S. and Rosen, D.W., “Free-Form Surface Modeling as a Tool for the Analysis and Selection of Assembly Tolerances,” Proceedings of the 29th International Symposium on Automotive Technology and Automation, June, 1996.

Pierce, R.S. and Jarzynski, J., “Signal Enhancement of Laser-Generated Ultrasound for Non-Destructive Testing,” Ultrasonics, vol. 33, n2, March, 1995.


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