Engineering is not a gadget discipline – it’s a people discipline. SMU’s Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering is preparing a new breed of creative engineering leaders to take on the world’s biggest problems through research that pushes the boundaries of what we know to reach for what people need. Following are examples of ongoing projects:
A Walking Solution
Fitting an amputee with a prosthesis is a time-consuming, trial and error process that returning military veterans face in large numbers. Yildirim Hurmuzlu, professor of mechanical engineering, is working with his team on a computerized prescription system that simulates the interaction of an artificial limb with the walking surface – allowing a test of various models by computer. The patients will benefit from the ability to choose the best fit for their gait from a wide variety of options before a prosthesis is manufactured.
But Not a Drop to Drink
Jim Yu, assistant professor of environmental engineering, is developing new treatment technologies for removing water contaminants. Yu and a team of students are working with Baylor University and other Texas universities to determine whether Lake Whitney’s salty water can be treated, economically, to provide drinking water for the nearby town of the same name. The recreational population boom Whitney experiences every summer has overburdened the little community’s wells, and a solution for Whitney could also provide a future backup source of water for Waco.
Like a Squid
Paul Krueger, associate professor of mechanical engineering, believes the “pulsing” mechanics that jellyfish and squid use to propel themselves through water can be applied to technology in the emerging field of “micro” vehicles. Krueger’s research could mean propelling vehicles smaller than a millimeter through the body for microsurgery (think “Fantastic Voyage”) or maneuvering tiny aircraft for military surveillance.
Your Cell Phone Camera – Multiplied
In Greek mythology, Argus Panoptes was a giant sentry with a hundred eyes. But in Electrical Engineering Professor Marc Christensen’s lab, Panoptes is a type of camera technology being developed with funding from the U.S. military for surveillance by small aircraft at low altitudes.
The research should eventually provide helmet-mounted surveillance equipment for soldiers on the ground. Lens performance tends to improve with size, which is why a small cell phone camera can’t produce a very good image. But the Panoptes technology uses the power of a computer to combine overlapping images of dozens of tiny lenses – producing a clear picture without the size and weight of a large lens.
Privacy Is Security
Suku Nair, professor of computer science, is the director of SMU’s HACNet (High Assurance Computing and Networking lab), where research focuses on such things as intelligence gathering, data analysis, and secure command and control necessary for military operations, border and transportation security, and digital content delivery and management. Nair is currently working with Alcatel on securely deploying television via the Internet.
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