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

Email: dana.carpenter@ucdenver.edu


Kai Yu, PhD

Associate Professor

Mechanical Engineering

Phone: 303-315-7561

Email: kai.2.yu@ucdenver.edu