Balaji was born and raised in Bloomington, IL. Since middle school, Balaji has aspired to become an inventor to design and build innovative machines. Balaji’s interests include mechatronics, machining, and dynamics. He is pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering to build on these interests. Balaji is founder and president of the Parkland Engineering Club, tutor at the Parkland College Center for Academic Success, and Vice President of Service of Alpha Phi Omega student chapter. Balaji joined the BAM lab in the summer of 2019 as part of an NSF REU program. In his free time, Balaji plays the saxophone, plays chess, and sketches.
Balaji is testing the effects of a variable stiffness hinge on the BAM lab’s ornithopter, Shadow. The hinge is meant to increase the efficiency of Shadow, which, in this case, is decreasing negative lift and power consumption. In order to determine the effect of the hinge on efficiency, Balaji is using a force/torque transducer to measure lift, a current sensor to measure power consumption, a rotary encoder to measure wing angle, and a high speed camera to measure the bending angle of the hinge.