Smart Materials and Biomechanics Lab

A CU Denver Anschutz Lab



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.

Learn more about research in orthopaedic biomechanics.


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

Student Positions

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 toward 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.

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)

PhD Students

Contact SMAB lab faculty for more information.


Dana R. Carpenter, PhD

Dana Carpenter, PhD

Associate Professor

Mechanical Engineering

Phone: 303-315-7508



Kai Yu, PhD

Associate Professor

Mechanical Engineering

Phone: 303-315-7561



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