Faculty News

As previously reported in our January 17 issue of emagination, School of Engineering Dean Mun Y. Choi has been tapped to serve as Interim Provost at UConn, effective June 1, while a national search ensues to fill the Provost position.  Dean Choi’s selection reflects UConn President Susan Herbst’s confidence in his administrative skills, collegiality, vision and fairness. Also effective June 1, Associate Dean for Research & Strategic Initiatives, Kazem Kazerounian, will step into the role of Interim Dean of the School of Engineering, and former Department Head and professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering Michael Accorsi will serve as Associate Dean for Research & Graduate Education.

Dean Choi was the recipient of an Innovation Champions award presented during the University’s inaugural Celebration of Innovation event held May 16 at the Connecticut Science Center.  UConn’s Vice President for Research, Suman Singha, also received an Innovation Champions award. The gala event, attended by UConn President Susan Herbst, Governor Dannel Malloy and Senator Donald E. Williams (recipients of the Innovation Champions – Government Officials award) and an array of top innovators and officials, celebrated UConn’s many innovators who have transformed their novel technologies into commercially successful products, processes and businesses. Dean Choi was lauded as “a tireless advocte for innovation, entrepreneurship and technology commercialization.”  Also honored was the web of public-private partnerships that help to usher UConn technologies from the lab into the private sector. Dean Choi was honored for his contributions in establishing and enhancing strong alliances between UConn and industry, the IP community, state agencies and commercialization entities. The Top UConn Startup Company award was presented to IMCORP, a Manchester-based company founded by UConn professor emeritus Matthew Mashikian, based on technology he developed while at UConn. The company provides testing services on medium and high voltage AC cable systems.

In 2011, Electrical & Computer Engineering professors Yaakov Bar-Shalom (Marianne E. Klewin Professor in Engineering and Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor) and Peter Willett, along with doctoral student Ting Yuan, developed a new algorithm for the rapid tracking of maneuvering targets.  The “interacting multiple model estimator with unbiased mixing (IMM- UM)” software algorithm was integrated into a guidance system for an underwater platform developed by ECE graduate student S. Bordonaro, who works for the U.S. Navy.  The IMM-UM advanced tracker capability improved the guidance system’s performance without the need for hardware modifications, thereby providing performance improvements at low cost.  Dr. Bar-Shalom notes, “This is an unusually rapid transition of basic research done at UConn to a real system with significant positive implications for the Navy.”

Donald R. Peterson, Director of both the Biomedical Engineering Program and the UConn Health Center’s Biodynamics Laboratory, in collaboration with partners at healthcare products giant Covidien, has developed a new method for measuring the physical strain placed on surgeons while performing minimally invasive surgery.  The methodology is expected to reduce physician fatigue and strain caused by un-ergonomic and repetitive motions required during laparoscopy.  Dr. Peterson credits Drew Seils and Tarek Tantawy, who received their M.S. degrees in BME this term, with contributing to the new method.

The method allows researchers to analyze surgeons’ motions in the operating room, providing insights into proper postures, techniques and body angles that should influence the development of new ergonomically designed minimally invasive surgery instruments. According to a recent press release, the assessment method involves using an opto-electronic motion capture (OEMC) system to track the surgeon’s movements, technique and posture. Electrodes are used to record muscle activity and fatigue of the forearm muscles that control hand movements. Additionally, thin film force sensors are mounted on the surgical devices to measure grip force, and a force plate is used to measure the push and pull forces of the surgeon on the devices.


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