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Kristan H

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)


Engineering, robotics, design


Hi! My name is Kristan Hilby and I am currently a PhD candidate in Mechanical Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. My M.S work was on the design of large-elongation soft modular robots; however I also have passions in traditional robots, space exploration, and sustainability. My experience is broad ranging from design engineering to materials science, but I am always interested in learning new skills in any field! I had some really great graduate mentors that helped guide me to where I am now. As such, I hope to feed forward the great mentorship I received. In my free time, I like to camp, backpack/hike, watch movies, do home renovation projects, go on runs, cook, bake, and star gaze!

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Search for Life in Earth's Atmosphere

Such a project would include the design and testing of a miniature Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectrometer for integration in a 1U CubeSat to be sent into Earth's atmosphere to search for microbial life forms at different elevations. In addition to the design of the apparatus, software development would need to take place to interpret the data and determine when results imply life in the atmosphere.

Planning and Collaboration of a Robot with Two Arms

Such a project would looks at the design of a robot with two arms, like a human, and then developing software to perform task planning and cooperation between the two robot arms to effectively execute a task.

Coding skills

Python, MatLab, Mathematica, C++ (Arduino)

Teaching experience

I have been a graduate (and undergraduate) research mentor for undergraduate students (ie. They helped me with my research projects).


Work experience

University of California, San Diego (2017 - 2019)
Undergraduate Researcher
Elysium Therapeutics (2015 - 2016)
Lab Assistant
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2019 - Current)
Graduate Researcher


University of California San Diego (UCSD)
BS Bachelor of Science (2019)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
MS Master of Science
Mechanical Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Mechanical Engineering

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