Fluid Power Student Profile: Joshua Cummins

Research Assistant Joshua Cummins

We’ve written before about the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CCEFP)—the network of fluid power research laboratories, academic faculty, graduate and undergraduate students at seven universities—that is making a difference when it comes to preparing a better educated workforce for the fluid power industry. The CCEFP has created a 500% increase in the number of fluid power focused advanced degrees awarded in the United States, with almost half of its graduates going on to work in the fluid power industry.

Joshua Cummins is one of the students currently engaged at one of the CCEFP schools—Vanderbilt University. When asked to provide a summary of his background and experiences in the CCEFP, this is what he said.

I received my Bachelors and Masters Degree from Purdue University before going to work for the Navy for three years as a Rotary Wing Structures Engineer in the Airframe Technology branch at the Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD. It was my time in the Airframe Technology branch that inspired me to go back to school for my PhD under the direction of Professor’s Doug Adams and Eric Barth. I am in my second year of PhD studies at Vanderbilt University. Upon completion of my degree I would like to investigate various entrepreneurial and/or teaching opportunities that are available.


Currently, I serve as the primary graduate research assistant on the Carbon Nanotube Advanced Strain Energy Accumulator (project 2C.2). I have taken the strain energy accumulator work that was done in previous years and worked to advance both the pneumatic and hydraulic versions towards commercialization.


On the pneumatic version we have successfully incorporated the strain energy accumulator onto Test Bed Six, the Ankle Foot Orthosis device, and have shown a 27% energy savings using the accumulator. The work with TB6 along with CCEFP member company Enfield Technologies has helped increase the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of the accumulator to a TRL 5. This project was recently displayed at Pack Expo East in Philadelphia, PA at a booth entitled “The Future of Pneumatics” where I served as the lead for designing and organizing the booth display.


With the hydraulic strain energy accumulator, we have identified both material and manufacturing opportunities to improve the strain energy accumulator. In order to address the material and manufacturing challenges, I look to utilize my knowledge and experience from my time spent in industry to incorporate new materials and develop new manufacturing approaches. Additionally, I hope to build on existing relationships with industry partners and other National Science Foundation engineering research center universities to help grow the center during its transition years while simultaneously identifying new collaborative research opportunities.


I am very passionate about mentoring youth and am involved in a middle and high school mentoring program called Fraternus through my church. I am also involved in various other church groups including being a fourth degree member of the Knights of Columbus and going on mission trips to Bolivia and Honduras. During my free time I like to spend time with family and friends, play ice hockey, read, listen to music, hike, kayak, bike, camp (there is nothing quite like a good bonfire), shoot skeet and travel.

Interested in meeting Josh? Your best bet is the upcoming Fluid Power Innovation and Research Conference in October.  Or contact him directly at joshua.j.cummins@vanderbilt.edu.

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