Faculty Sponsor

Tiffany Kolba


Arts and Sciences


Data Science, Engineering

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 5-1-2020


A Valparaiso University engineering senior design team is developing a lower-body exoskeleton prototype to increase the user’s running efficiency by 2%. The device is passive, which means that all elements of the system are powered by the user’s motion and impact with the ground. This is done via elastic fabric elements and spring steel actuators that are attached at the user’s hip, knee and ankle. The device’s effectiveness was tested using a VO2-max test in which the single test subject ran on a treadmill at a constant pace with and without the device. The test recorded the amount of oxygen consumed by the user during the trials, which is directly correlated to the calories burned by the user during the trials. As the experiment has a single test subject due to the user-specific dimensions of the prototype, many trials of the VO2 max test were performed in Spring 2020 to yield a larger sample size for analysis. The team used the output data to determine if there is statistically significant evidence that the user running with the device is more efficient than the user running without the device. Analysis was performed using Python and the proprietary software used to record data from VO2-max tests. A repeatable analysis pipeline was created to enable the research team to rapidly determine if changes to the design are beneficial. This pipeline was used to continue the development of the prototype throughout the Spring 2020 semester.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Peter Rhodes is a graduating senior who is majoring in Bioengineering, Data Science and Economics. He is using this project to meet the colloquium requirements for the Data Science major while also contributing to his engineering senior design team's analysis of their design. In the 2017-2018 school year, Peter was on a team with two other students that developed a previous passive running exoskeleton focusing on improving efficiency at the ankle. The team presented the research at the 2018 American Society of Biomechanics Conference.