Kevin Ma

I am a robotics researcher with a focus on the development of new designs and manufacturing methods for robots. Currently, I am a Research Fellow with the Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. I received my Ph.D. in Engineering Sciences from Harvard in 2015 and my B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from University of California, Berkeley in 2010.

My research interest lies in the mechanical design of dynamic and articulating mechanical systems, in the service of robotic mobility (e.g. walking, flying, swimming), robotic manipulation, and human-machine interfaces. I also develop and use novel manufacturing, assembly, actuation, and control techniques to enable the design of robust, scalable systems. Design is a central component of my work, and I take inspiration from biological/natural forms and the creative arts.

I have worked extensively on the world's first biologically-inspired, insect-scale flying robot (the Robobee) and have investigated microengineering techniques for microscale devices and system modeling and analysis of flapping wing flight.

Research projects

I designed and constructed the world's smallest flying robot, known as the Robobee—a fully-integrated robotic flying vehicle the size of a bumblebee and using flapping wings to fly like the real insect.
"Pop-up" manufacturing and the Wright FLyer
Using a novel methodology developed in my research lab for microscale device design, construction, and assembly, I created the world's smallest scaled model of the 1903 Wright Flyer. The model unfolds and self-assembles like a pop-up book, thus coining the term for the methodology: "pop-up manufacturing."

Selected publications

Fun stuff

Paper craft
Various kirigami (cutting only) paper models.
I sculpt in various mediums for fun.