Cynthia Sung, an assistant professor in the Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics department, was featured in the Oct. 20 episode of “Mission Unstoppable” with iCarly star Miranda Cosgrove.
“Mission Unstoppable,” which began airing in 2019, is a television series highlighting women in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Each episode profiles a woman working in STEM fields. The series currently airs on CBS, YouTube, and Twitch.
In the four-minute episode, Sung spoke about how she wanted to be an artist as a child but became an engineer instead. In her research, Sung combines origami, a paper-folding art that originated in Japan, with robotics into a concept that she calls “robogami.” The team from “Mission Unstoppable” visited Sung’s lab at Penn, where she demonstrated a project that uses geometric insight from paper-folding to create a swimming robot inspired by how squids move through water.
Sung received her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Rice University in 2011. She went on to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she studied electric engineering and computer science, earning her masters in 2013 and a Ph.D. in 2016. She joined the faculty at Penn in 2017, where she runs the Sung Robotics Lab.
In addition to her professorship, Sung is also a member of the General Robotics, Automation, Sensing & Perception lab at Penn. She is the recipient of a number of awards for her robogami, including a 2020 Johnson & Johnson Women in STEM2D Scholars Award and a 2017 Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award.
At Penn, Sung has taught courses in engineering such as ENGR 105: “Introduction to Scientific Computing,” MEAM 520: “Introduction to Robotics,” and MEAM 211: “Engineering Mechanics: Dynamics.”
Sung told the producers of “Mission Impossible” that her goal is to make robotics more accessible and flexible.
“Sung’s ‘robogami’ approach allows anyone to design and build a basic robot in a matter of minutes,” according to a Penn Engineering blog. “By simplifying and democratizing this process, Sung hopes that robotics becomes a truly interdisciplinary pursuit.”