Professor Robert X. Gao
, Electromechanical Systems Laboratory

Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003
Phone: (413) 545-0868 | Fax: (413) 545-1027 | Email:


Robert Gao received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the Technical University of Berlin, Germany, where he has worked on developing a new embedded sensing methodology for the on-line measurement of energy and load distributions within rotating ball mills. The research was sponsored by the Federal Ministry for Research and Technology (BMFT).


Prof. Gao’s research interest and expertise are in the areas of physics-based sensing, design of smart structures, system miniaturization, vibration analysis, multi-domain signal processing, and energy-efficient wireless sensor networks. His research take a mechatronics approach, focusing on the synergistic integration of physical sensing elements with embedded control algorithms and wireless communication to introduce a new paradigm for integrated machine health management. One of his research thrust areas, sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the machine tool industry, focuses on establishing the theoretical framework and design guidelines for developing machine components and structures (e.g. bearings and spindles) with self-diagnostic capabilities. The objective is to integrate "intelligence" into machines to enable early defect identification, failure mode diagnosis, and remaining life prognosis, to ultimately minimize unexpected machine downtime. In addition to manufacturing-related research, Prof. Gao has been working on assistive technologies to aid persons with disabilities, in particular in the area of orientation and mobility aid for the visually impaired.  He has also collaborated with medical doctors at the Baystate Medical Center on biomechanics modeling and experimentation to investigate the effects of fixation techniques on lumbar spine stabilization, with the goal to establish a systematic biomechanical evaluation procedure for minimally invasive spine surgery.


As a researcher, he has successfully established a competitive research program focused on sensors, having served as the PI and Co-PI for over $6 million in grants from federal and state funding agencies and industrial companies, and published over 140 refereed technical papers. As an educator, he has developed several interdisciplinary graduate courses in the areas of mechatronics systems design and advanced measurement systems, graduated 6 Ph.D. and 22 M.S. students, and is presently supervising 2 postdoctoral fellows, 3 Ph.D., and 3 M.S. students. 


Prof. Gao is an Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Instrumentation and Measurement, an Associate Editor of the ASME Journal of Dynamic Systems, Measurement, and Control, and serves on the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Manufacturing Research. He is a Co-Editor of the book “Condition Monitoring and Control for Intelligent Manufacturing”, which was published by the Springer-Verlag in 2006. He is a Co-Chair of the SPIE International Symposium on Sensors and Smart Structures Technologies for Civil, Mechanical and Aerospace System in 2005 and 2006. He chaired the Sensors and Instrumentation Panel of the ASME Dynamic Systems and Controls Division during 2000-2003, and presently co-chairs the Technical Committee on Built-in-Test and Self-Test (TC-21) of the IEEE Instrumentation and Measurement Society. He is a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).