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Martin Tanaka - Western Carolina University. Cullowhee, NC, US

Martin Tanaka

Professor | Western Carolina University


Martin Tanaka's research interests include biomedical devices, computational modeling and neuromuscular control.





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As a faculty member at WCU, Martin Tanaka spends his time teaching mechanical engineering courses, conducting research, and serving the university and the community. He usually has a few graduate students and some students doing undergraduate research. Dr. Tanaka's research interests include developing innovative biomedical devices, computational modeling, neuromuscular control, and industry-academic partnerships. Most of his research projects have design, build, test, and optimization components stemming from my experience designing products in industry. He is a licensed professional engineer and enjoys working with students and local companies on their projects. Put simply, he applies mechanical engineering principles to solve biomedical problems. Being a veteran, he also has a special interest in his projects to assist the U.S. Armed Forces.

Professionally, he serves the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in a variety of leadership roles. After 26 years of membership, he was honored as an ASME fellow. Dr. Tanaka's degrees are in mechanical engineering (NCSU), engineering mechanics (VT) and I earned a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Virginia Tech and Wake Forest University.

Areas of Expertise (8)

Design For Manufacturing

Computational Modeling

Material Properties and Behavior

Innovation in Engineering Design

Product Design and Development

Innovative Biomedical Devices

Neuromuscular Control

Industry-Academic Partnerships

Accomplishments (8)

Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers


Winning Team – Faculty Entrepreneurship Boot Camp at UNC Chapel Hill


Board of Governors Distinguished Teaching Award


The Kimmel School Distinguished Research and Scholarly Engagement Award


The Kimmel School Outstanding Early Faculty Career Award


Tau Beta Pi – Engineering Honor Society – Chapter President, NC Alpha


Veteran – Served in US Army


DOD Secret Clearance

Issued 1987

Education (3)

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University: Ph.D., Biomedical/Medical Engineering 2008

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University: M.S., Engineering Mechanics 1993

North Carolina State University at Raleigh: B.S., Mechanical Engineering 1992

Affiliations (1)

  • The American Society of Mechanical Engineers

Media Appearances (2)

Engineering professor named as resident scholar for NSF funded research with FDA

WCU Stories  online


“I am excited about the opportunity to work at the FDA. I think my experience with mathematical modeling, computer simulations, and my time designing commercial products in industry will add an additional perspective,” said Tanaka. “Beyond advancing science, I’ll use what I learn at the FDA to enhance my teaching and provide undergraduate research opportunities for students at WCU.”

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Engineering students collaborate to design and build a solar tracking array

WCU Stories  online


The device earned top marks in the junior design class taught by mechanical engineering professor Martin Tanaka, who spent 11 years designing commercial products in the private sector.

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Articles (3)

Quantifying the Accuracy of a Motion Detecting Neural Prosthesis

ASME 2020 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition


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A Thesis Development Course for Engineering Graduate Students

Journal of Biomechanical Engineering


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Design of a Novel Head Support for People With Hypermobile-Type Ehlers–Danlos Syndrome

Journal of Engineering and Science in Medical Diagnostics and Therapy


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