William Durfee

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William Durfee

Morse Alumni Distinguished Teaching Professor and Director of Design Education, Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical Engineering
Room 2101B
111 Church Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455


Adjunct Professor, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine
Director, Bakken Medical Devices Center


Ph.D. 1985, Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
M.S. 1978, Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
A.B. 1976, Engineering and Applied Physics, Harvard University


Human/Machine Design Lab

Research Interests
  • Developing a system that combines electrical stimulation of paralyzed muscles with a mechanical brace to restore walking to individuals with paraplegia.
  • Exploring the fundamental characteristics of tiny hydraulic systems and their application to powered exoskeletons for orthotics and human power amplification.
  • Developing a tiny internal combustion engine and compressor for supplying compressed air to portable, wearable pneumatic systems.
  • Researching the mechanical properties of human muscle including developing new research and clinical diagnostic instrumentation to quickly and easily measure muscle function.
  • Assessing performance characteristics of tools and devices used in surgical procedures.
  • Exploring new ways to educate engineers, including low-cost take-home lab kits.


Selected Publications

  • Goldfarb, M. and W. Durfee, Design of a controlled-brake orthosis for FES-aided gait, IEEE Trans. Rehab. Eng., 4(1):13-24, 1996. 
  • Durfee and MacLean. Methods for estimating isometric recruitment curves of electrically stimulated muscle. IEEE Trans Biomed Eng, BME-36(7): 654-667, 1989.
  • Krebs, H., Hogan, N., Durfee, W., Herr, H., Rehabilitation robotics, orthotics, and prosthetics. In Textbook of Neural Repair and Rehabilitation, Vol. II, Medical Rehabilitation . Chap. 12, Selzer, Clarke, Cohen, Duncan , Gage, eds., Cambridge University Press, 2006. \
  • L. Tian, DB Kittelson, WK Durfee, Miniature HCCI free-piston engine compressor for orthosis application. SAE Small Engine Technology Conference, 2009
  • Durfee, W. Task-based control with an electrically stimulated antagonist muscle pair, IEEE Trans Biomed Eng, BME-36(3):309-321, 1989.