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Wolbrecht Named Mechanical Engineering Department Chair

September 22, 2023

University of Idaho Professor Eric Wolbrecht has been named Chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. 

Wolbrecht is the Dean and Cindy Haagenson Mechanical Engineering Endowed Professor and co-director of U of I’s Assistive Robotics Laboratory with Mechanical Engineering Associate Professor Joel Perry.

Wolbrecht received his doctorate in 2007 in mechanical and aerospace engineering from the University of California, Irvine. He joined the University of Idaho the same year.

His active research focuses on the design and control of robotic devices for rehabilitation and assessment after stroke and other neurologic impairments. He has previously collaborated with U of I researchers on state estimation for localization and navigation of autonomous underwater vehicles. His research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Office of Naval Research.

Wolbrecht is currently collaborating with Perry on the development of BLUE SABINO, a BiLateral Upper-extremity Exoskeleton for Simultaneous Assessment of Biomechanical and Neuromuscular Output.

He has been a principal contributor to the design and development of multiple robotic devices for neurorehabilitation, including FINGER, the Finger Individuating Grasp Exercise Robot, and THINGER, the THumb INdividuating Grasp Exercise Robot. These hand rehabilitation devices were both constructed at the University of Idaho and are central to ongoing collaborations with researchers at the University of California, Irvine, and the National Center for Adaptive Neurotechnologies. 

Wolbrecht was awarded the Presidential Mid-Career Award from the University of Idaho in 2015.

Wolbrecht teaches courses in dynamic systems, controls, and robotics. He is currently the faculty advisor for the Vandal Robotics Club, which was founded by students under his guidance in 2022. Wolbrecht is a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

About the University of Idaho

The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, nine research and Extension centers, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to nearly 11,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky and Western Athletic conferences. Learn more at


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