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Jessica Y

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at University of Pennsylvania (UPenn)


Robotics, mechanical engineering, mechatronics


I'm a PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania, where I work on developing and integrating novel sensors for soft robots. At Penn, I'm co-advised by Professor Mark Yim (Modlab, GRASP Lab) and Professor James Pikul (Pikul Research Group). I graduated with my B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Physical Computing (Dept. of Computer Science) from Carnegie Mellon University in 2020. At CMU, I was mentored by Dr. Tess Hellebrekers and Professor Carmel Majidi (Soft Machines Lab). I was extremely fortunate to be mentored by a fantastic PhD student while I was in undergrad, who helped me develop my passion for research and the technical skills to execute my ideas. I'm excited for the opportunity to pay it forward, and would love to help inspire the next generation of scientists!

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.

Wearable sensor skin

With this project, we can explore the field of wearable electronics for biomonitoring and human-machine interfaces. You'll strengthen your skills in circuit design, programming, mechanical design, and system prototyping.

Autonomous robot manipulation

Build an autonomous robot arm that can sort objects by color, size, or shape! We can explore control schemes for robot autonomy, computer vision fundamentals, and mechanical design.

Coding skills

Python, Matlab, Arduino

Teaching experience

I've previously mentored three Polygence students for hands-on robotics projects. I also currently mentor a robotics MS student and several undergraduates in my lab-- I provide technical guidance on CAD for 3D printing, electronics prototyping, and algorithm development. I served as a TA for the sophomore undergraduate mechanics class and junior design, which involves preparing and teaching recitations and holding office hours. Additionally, I have several years of experience tutoring math for high school students.


Work experience

MIT Lincoln Lab (2019 - 2019)
Robotics Research Intern
Toyota Research Institute (2022 - 2022)
Robotics Research Intern
Carnegie Mellon University: Soft Machines Lab (2017 - 2020)
Undergraduate Researcher
Carnegie Mellon University Makerspace (2017 - 2019)
Makerspace Technician


Carnegie Mellon University
BS Bachelor of Science (2020)
Mechanical Engineering
University of Pennsylvania (UPenn)
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate

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