Andrew S Merryweather, PhD
  • Adjunct Assistant Professor, Physical Therapy & Athletic Training
  • Adjunct Associate Professor, Family And Preventive Medicine
  • Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering
  • Adjunct Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering

Research Summary

My primary areas of expertise are: biomechanical/biomedical design, ergonomics, safety and rehabilitation engineering, musculoskeletal injury prevention and whole body modeling. One of the major goals of my research is to develop new technology and methods to prevent injuries and improve rehabilitation. The majority of my work has focused on injury biomechanics and human centered movement analysis.

Education

  • BS, Mechanical Engineering, Utah State University. Project: Senior Project - Mini Baja
  • MS, Mechanical Engineering, The University of Utah. Project: Thesis: Model Development for the Estimation of Back Compressive Force and Subsequent Low Back Disorder Risk
  • PhD, Mechanical Engineering, The University of Utah. Project: Dissertation: Lower Limb Biomechanics of Walking on Slanted and Level Railroad Ballast

Biography

Dr. Andrew Merryweather is an assistant professor here at University of Utah in Mechanical Engineering and adjunct assistant professor in Family and Preventative Medicine and Physical Therapy & Athletic Training.  He received Bachelors of Science, a Master’s of Science and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering here at Utah.  His PhD dissertation was on Lower Limb Biomechanics of Walking on Slanted and Level Railroad Ballast. 

Dr. Merryweather research interest is in Population Aging, Disabilities and Injury Prevention Biomechanics. Within that, his research interests lie within the categories of biomechanical/biomedical design, ergonomics, safety, and rehabilitation engineering, with a focus on 3D motion analysis and injury prevention and modeling.  A significant amount of his research is related to wearable technology to determine occupational exposures and safe human robot interactions.  To contribute to the body of knowledge in this field, Dr. Merryweather is engaged in team science and has worked with researchers from multiple disciplines including health sciences, school of medicine, college of nursing, computer science, mechanical engineering, industrial and systems engineering, and agricultural systems technology and education. 

Over the past three years, he has worked with faculty from the college of nursing to obtain a significant source of funding to study the influence of hospital bed design and position on fall biomechanics. 

He has received numerous honors & awards, most recently in 2015; he was named Utah Section Safety Professional of the Year by the American Society of Safety Engineers. Dr. Merryweather was recognized as an outstanding teacher by the College of Engineering in 2013 and recently he was awarded along with his colleagues the 2017 IEA/Liberty Mutual Medal for an original research and paper published in Journal of Ergonomics titled “Relationships between job organizational factors, biomechanical and psychosocial exposures”.  

 

Teaching Statement

Teaching Philosophy                                                                                                             

The role as teacher and mentor is one of the most important and rewarding aspects of my position. I am dedicated to providing opportunities and experiences for graduate and undergraduate students. In my professional career at the University of Utah I have taught 23 sections of 8 courses. My average teaching evaluation has been 5.30/6.0 (range 4.4-5.59). I have demonstrated competence teaching both small, specialized graduate courses and large, lecture courses of more than 160 undergraduate students. Where appropriate, I have developed complete course materials, or significantly modified existing course content.

My educational philosophy is simple. A teacher should (i) teach students how to problem solve, and (ii) have high expectations and provide students with the learning environment, knowledge and other resources necessary to exceed those expectations. To this end, my teaching efforts span three domains: (i) the formal classroom setting, (ii) graduate research/mentoring and (iii) undergraduate research and design team mentoring.

Classroom                                                                                                                             

The way students prefer to learn in the classroom is changing. As an early adopter of technology, I enhance lectures with media both during class and using pre/post-lectures to address this need (flipped classroom). My significant contributions on curriculum centered committees within the department include developing new design challenge problems and instructional materials for the freshman design course (MEEN1000) and senior capstone design sequence (ME4000/4010) for our students. It is my goal to continue these efforts and encourage access to more online content in our curricula. I believe this will help increase the number of graduates in engineering and support Utah’s Engineering Initiative.

Graduate Research/Mentoring                                                                                             

A significant amount of my time and resources are spent with students outside the classroom advising and mentoring. Regular interactions with my graduate students include bi-weekly individual project meetings and group lab meetings. These meetings provide me with time to teach sound research practices and give encouragement when things do not turn out as planned. During lab meetings, students present progress and solicit help from others. I have also been focused on improving the sense of belonging and team building within our research group. The purpose of these activities (e.g., bowling, hiking, BBQ) is to create an environment where students feel safe and comfortable sharing ideas and growing relationships with colleagues.

As my research evolves and my group expands, my time in the lab has diminished. Over the past three years, I have supported two post-doctoral researchers (Mark Fehlberg, PhD & Mitja Trkov) to help manage my growing research group.

Undergraduate Research and Design Team Mentoring                                                      

Although unusual for someone as involved in research as myself, I am committed to providing opportunities and experiences for undergraduate students. I have advised 16 senior design teams and 22 undergraduate researchers. My reason for supporting undergraduates is simple: (i) quality graduate students are born of quality undergraduate programs, (ii) academic programs are often defined by the quality of their undergraduate students, and (iii) undergraduate students often go on to have a large impact on our society. This is so important to me that I pursued NSF funding to support senior design projects related to disability research (NSF #1159885), which has funded 17 projects and nearly 100 students over the past 5 years.