Zac Manchester is Assistant Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford University, director of the Stanford Robotic Exploration Lab, a member of the Breakthrough Starshot advisory committee, and founder of the KickSat project. He holds a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering and a B.S. in applied physics from Cornell University. Zac has previously worked at Harvard University, NASA Ames Research Center, and Analytical Graphics, Inc. His research interests include motion planning, control, and optimization with application to spacecraft, and robotics.

Academic Appointments

  • Assistant Professor, Aeronautics and Astronautics

Honors & Awards

  • Early Career Faculty Award, NASA (2018)

2019-20 Courses

Stanford Advisees

  • Doctoral Dissertation Reader (AC)
    Nick Bianco, Adam Caccavale, Kaitlin Dennison, Duncan Eddy, Vince Giralo, Mark Koren, Kunal Menda, Sean Young, Jean de Becdelievre
  • Doctoral Dissertation Advisor (AC)
    Taylor Howell, Brian Jackson, Simon Le Cleac'h
  • Master's Program Advisor
    Alexander Maynard, Marco Nunez, Randall Ticknor, Tyler Weiss

All Publications

  • Contact-implicit trajectory optimization using variational integrators INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ROBOTICS RESEARCH Manchester, Z., Doshi, N., Wood, R. J., Kuindersma, S. 2019; 38 (12-13): 1463–76
  • Robust direct trajectory optimization using approximate invariant funnels AUTONOMOUS ROBOTS Manchester, Z., Kuindersma, S. 2019; 43 (2): 375–87
  • Handedness in shearing auxetics creates rigid and compliant structures SCIENCE Lipton, J., MacCurdy, R., Manchester, Z., Chin, L., Cellucci, D., Rus, D. 2018; 360 (6389): 632–35


    In nature, repeated base units produce handed structures that selectively bond to make rigid or compliant materials. Auxetic tilings are scale-independent frameworks made from repeated unit cells that expand under tension. We discovered how to produce handedness in auxetic unit cells that shear as they expand by changing the symmetries and alignments of auxetic tilings. Using the symmetry and alignment rules that we developed, we made handed shearing auxetics that tile planes, cylinders, and spheres. By compositing the handed shearing auxetics in a manner inspired by keratin and collagen, we produce both compliant structures that expand while twisting and deployable structures that can rigidly lock. This work opens up new possibilities in designing chemical frameworks, medical devices like stents, robotic systems, and deployable engineering structures.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/science.aar4586

    View details for Web of Science ID 000431790900039

    View details for PubMedID 29748279

  • Stability of a Light Sail Riding on a Laser Beam ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNAL LETTERS Manchester, Z., Loeb, A. 2017; 837 (2)