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Martin Culpepper

Contact Info

room 35-237

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

77 Massachusetts Avenue

Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139

Administrative Contact Foley, Douglas E. 35-211


  • 1995


  • 1997


  • 2000



Research Interests

We (1) invent, design and fabricate high-performance machine systems; and (2) Generate design theory/tools/methods that enable the preceding. We produce new concepts that change the paradigm for specific machine technologies. We develop understanding of the fundamental issues that dominate/limit them, then create the knowledge/tools/theory/proof that engineers need to design/employ them. We apply this work to advanced machine technologies that:

  • Make (e.g. manufacturing, rapid prototyping, fixturing)

  • Move (e.g. robotics, motion stages, mechanisms), or

  • Measure (e.g. instrumentation, medical devices, telescopes)


Honors + Awards



2001 – Present    Member, American Society of Mechanical Engineers
2000 – Present    Member, American Society of Precision Engineers
2001 – Present    Member, European Society of Precision Engineers

Professional Service

2020 – Present    Editor; International Journal of Academic Makerspaces and Making
2021 - Present    Member, Higher Education Makerspace Initiative
2018 – 2021        Chief Executive Officer; Higher Education Makerspace Initiative
2010 – 2011        Consultant; Tissue Vision [Design/fabrication of tissue slicing mechanisms]
2008 – 2009        Consultant; Tissue Vision [Design/fabrication of tissue slicing mechanisms]
2008 – 2010        Consultant; Boston Engineering [Design of Harvard's Atlum ultramicrotome]

MIT Service

2015 – 2022        Director, Project Manus; MIT
2013 – Present    Full Professor;    Department of Mechanical Engineering, MIT
2008 – 2013        Associate Professor (with tenure); Department of Mechanical Engineering, MIT
2004 – 2008        Associate Professor (without tenure); Department of Mechanical Engineering, MIT
2001 – 2004        Assistant Professor; Department of Mechanical Engineering, MIT


Becoming a great designer/engineer means learning to meld invention, engineering common sense, engineering science, and hands-on fabrication/measurement skills to solve real problems. Every class taught by Prof. Culpepper is tuned to teach these skills:

Spring: 2.72/2.720 Elements of Mechanical Design
Advanced study of modeling, design, integration, and best practices for use of machine elements, such as bearings, bolts, belts, flexures, and gears. Modeling and analysis is based upon rigorous application of physics, mathematics, and core mechanical engineering principles, which are reinforced via laboratory experiences and a design project in which students model, design, fabricate, and characterize a mechanical system that is relevant to a real-world application.

Fall:2.145/2.147 Design of Compliant Mechanisms, Machines and Systems
Design, modeling and integration of compliance into systems that enable performance which is impractical to obtain via rigid mechanisms. Students learn multiple strategies (pseudo-rigid body modeling, topology synthesis, freedom and constraint topology) to engineer high-performance compliant mechanisms . Emphasis is placed upon the use of 1st principles to optimize kinematics, stiffness, power, load capacity, dynamics, efficiency and integration with actuation/sensing.