Skip to main content
Sign In

Smart Materials and Biomechanics Lab

Mechanical Engineering

Here are some links to recent research publications and articles involving the SMAB Lab.

·      Professors Carpenter and Yakacki win NIH R21 award

·      Creating a New Class of Spinal Fusion Cage

·      Shape-Memory and Shape-Changing Polymers

·      Finite Element Analysis of the Hip and Spine Based on Quantitative Computed Tomography

·      High-Strength Poly(Para-Phenylene) as an Orthopedic Biomaterial

·      Porous Poly(Para-Phenylene) Scaffolds for Load-Bearing Orthopedic Applications

Independent Study Students

As a CU Denver student, you are able to perform undergraduate and graduate research for credit in the form of an independent study.  Independent studies can be taken for 1-6 credit hours (typically 3 per semester) and count towards up to two mechanical engineering elective courses.  Independent research can be incredibly rewarding (and frustrating at times) and can serve as a valuable complement to your coursework.  

Suggested Requirements for Independent Study Students

  • GPA 3.25
  • Junior Level Standing or Greater
  • Coursework completed in some the following areas:
    • Materials Science, Numerical Methods, FEA, Biomechanics, Mechanical Behavior of Materials, Polymers
  • A self-motivated personality with desire to independently explore new areas and subject matter.


If interested, please contact Professors Carpenter or Yakacki before the next semester begins.

Master’s Students

Research is a requirement for many graduate programs.  As a CU Denver student, you have the option to complete your Master’s degree by performing a research project or thesis. Master’s Projects are typically completed in 1-2 semesters, while a Master’s Thesis is typically completed in 3-4 semesters.

As a graduate student, you should have completed or be enrolled in the following courses before initiating a project or thesis with Professors Carpenter or Yakacki

  • Introduction to Biomechanics, Advanced Biomechanics, FEA (Carpenter)
  • Mechanical Behavior of Materials, Polymers (Yakacki)

Professor Yakacki is not accepting Master’s Projects students at this time.


PhD Students

The SMAB Lab does not have any additional funded positions for PhD students at this time.

The SMAB Lab has the following equipment and resources. 

  • MTS Insight 30 equipped with:
    • ThermCraft Thermal Chamber (-100°C - 400°C)
    • LX500 Laser Extensometer
    • Wedge Grips, Compression Platens, Roller Grips
  • Bose ElectroForce 3200 equipped with:
    • Custom Thermal Chamber (-50°C - 250°C)
    • DMA Software Package
    • Mini-Tensile Grips, 3-pt Bend Fixture, Mini-Compression Platens
  • Digital Instruments Nanoscope IIIa Atomic Force Microscope
    • Operates in Contact and Tapping Mode
    • 1 micron glass-tipped probes for biological tissues
  • 8-core Cluster
    • ABAQUS finite element software
    • Simpleware image processing and finite element meshing software
  • Fume Hood
  • Biological Tissue Storage
  • Chemical and Hazardous Waste Storage
  • Access to CU Denver medical imaging facilities (CT, micro-CT, MRI) and confocal microscopy facilities

If you would like access to the equipment or have general questions about the SMAB Lab, please contact:

The Smart Materials and Biomechanics (SMAB) Lab is run by Professors Dana Carpenter and Christopher Yakacki and is located in North Classroom 2405.  The mission of the SMAB Lab is to perform fundamental and translational research at the interface of mechanical engineering, materials science, and biomedical technology.  Research projects include developing finite-element models from patient specific data, determining the mechanical effects of exercise and pharmaceuticals on bone, the synthesis and characterization of shape-changing polymers, and the design and testing of biomedical devices.