Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Civil Engineering

Committee Chair/Advisor

Laura Redmond

Committee Member

Qiushi Chen

Committee Member

Weichiang Pang

Committee Member

Brandon Ross


The era of space exploration is driven by and fuels large advances in technological progress.
Over the last decade, engineering practices for spacecraft, space structures, robotics, software and
hardware, manufacturing techniques, and the implementation of new and novel materials has been
revolutionized. Space exploration pushes the envelope in terms of technological capabilities and
robotic systems (rovers) become lighter, smaller, and more capable of sustaining damage. This
dissertation aids in the advancement of design knowledge for a class of rovers characterized by
their chassis architecture: rigid-flex printed circuit board (PCB) robotics. These rovers leverage
the printed circuit cards as the structural system, which advantageously reduces mass and volume,
but also necessitates high-fidelity analysis. This dissertation provides a description of finite element
modeling procedures for these systems under various loading conditions, the associated validation
steps (traditional modal testing, impact testing), and recommendations for future design. This
document provides a theoretical framework for high-level rigid-flex PCB robotic architecture anal-
ysis and presents results and conclusions using NASA JPL’s Pop-Up Folding Flat Explorer Robot
(PUFFER) as a benchmark.

Author ORCID Identifier

Available for download on Wednesday, January 01, 2025