Makeathon Challenge Winter 2021

Gait Detection & Analysis

What is the Undergraduate Robotics Institute Makeathon Challenge?

We’re looking for undergraduate students to apply for the Winter 2021 Undergraduate Robotics Institute Makeathon. This year’s theme is Gait Detection and Analysis. Participants will be tasked with developing mechatronic and software systems that give useful information about a person’s gait, with supplies, support, and mentorship provided by members of the LocoLab and the Neurobionics Lab. Our goal with this makeathon is to give valuable hands-on experience designing, building, and testing systems that have direct impacts on our research efforts, while furthering COE’s commitment to DEI.  

This year, everyone will be working on one of several projects relevant to our current research efforts, all falling within the event theme (Gait Detection and Analysis). There are many applications in which having strong quantitative metrics about a person’s gait can be incredibly helpful. However, most of the available methods for this are extremely expensive and time consuming to perform. We’re tasking the participants with developing low cost tools that could be used in the lab, on campus, or in a clinic to give similar information.

U-M Undergraduate engineering students

Team-based robotics challenge

February through April

Who is able to participate?

All undergraduate engineering students at the University of Michigan are eligible to apply, provided they intend to be in Ann Arbor for the Winter semester. Remote students may also apply, but will need to work out logistics for access to certain resources, if their project requires them (e.g. 3d printing, soldering). We hope to build dynamic, diverse, and qualified teams. Team sizes will be based on the specific project and student preferences, but we intend teams to remain small in an effort to give everyone the best experiences possible. Participation as an individual will also be an option, taking into consideration the student’s preference and experience, as well as project scope.

Anyone interested in volunteering with the event (e.g., graduate students, staff, faculty) may reach us at

When is this happening?

The Makeathon will run throughout Winter semester, from early February through April 20, 2021.

How can I apply?

You can apply to participate by completing the linked questionnaire and submitting it, along with sending your resume to with the subject “Makeathon Application 2021”. Additional inquiries may also be submitted to this address.

We ask that you submit your application materials by 11:59 PM on January 31, 2021 to ensure it is considered by the organizing committee.

What kind of work can I expect to do? 

As a participant, you can expect to be involved in every step of the design process. A typical project will likely include searching the literature, brainstorming solutions, designing mechanical and electrical prototypes in CAD, purchasing materials, fabricating, and assembling prototypes, and testing and debugging. While participants will receive assistance and mentorship from lab members, this is intended to be a very open project with a lot of freedom to pursue what interests you!

Visit our GitHub repository for more information regarding specific project prompts (and complete the linked questionnaire ASAP to ensure future communication reaches you promptly).

What about COVID-19 Precautions?

An important aspect of this event is the hands on opportunity to build something. At this time, we plan to have supplies for the makeathon delivered directly to the participants at the address of their choosing. A variety of virtual events (kickoff meeting, mentor “office hours”, final project expo) will be held over the course of the Makeathon, with the possibility open for transition to in-person events in the winter/spring based on the trajectory of the pandemic. We will continue following guidance and regulations put forth by the University and public health professionals to strike the proper balance for an enriching and safe experience.