Major Research Awards

Here is a small sample of the many notable awards from federal agencies, corporations, and entities that have supported research at WPI in recent months.

Solving Healthcare Delivery Challenges

With a five-year, $1.6 million award from the Veterans Health Administration, Isa Bar-On (Mechanical Engineering), and Sharon Johnson and Bengisu Tulu (School of Business), faculty members in WPI’s Healthcare Delivery Institute (HDI), are using their systems and operational engineering expertise to help develop innovative solutions to healthcare delivery challenges. They are working in partnership with the New England Veterans Engineering Resource Center and the Veterans Administration’s New England Healthcare System.

Integrating Prostheses with the Body

Christopher Lambert (Bioengineering Institute) is the principal investigator for two major awards aimed at better integrating advanced prostheses with the body. With Joseph Duffy (Biology and Biotechnology), Kristen Billiar, Raymond Page, and George Pins (Biomedical Engineering), and Edward Clancy (Electrical and Computer Engineering), he received a $1.4 million award from the, U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command to develop technologies, including engineered surfaces and implantable neuromuscular junctions, that will ultimately enable prostheses to be integrated with the nervous system. With a $934,000 subaward from the U.S. Army (the University of Utah is the prime awardee), he will develop a safe, permanent, infection-free skin seal for transcutaneous medical devices with a specific focus on osseointegrated prostheses.

A Smartphone App for Diabetics

HDI faculty members Diane Strong and Bengisu Tulu (School of Business), Emmanuel Agu (Computer Science), and Peder Pedersen (Electrical and Computer Engineering) received a four-year, $1.2 million award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to work with diabetes and wound care specialists at the University of Massachusetts Medical School to develop a smartphone app to help people with advanced diabetes and foot ulcers better manage their disease.

MRI-guided Robotic Surgery

Gregory Fischer (Mechanical and Robotics Engineering) has received the first installment of a five-year, $950,000 award as part of a National Institutes of Health-sponsored Bioengineering Research Partnership led by Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Fischer will develop robotic systems that can work within an MRI scanner, enabling surgeons to perform prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment guided by real-time medical imagery and aided by teleoperation with tactile feedback that will let them “feel” the interactions

Studying How Timing Affects Learning

Joseph Beck and Neil Heffernan (Computer Science) received a three-year, $750,000, award from the NSF to add new functionality to ASSISTments, an intelligent tutoring and assessment platform developed at WPI, and to use the enhanced system to test whether students learn better when instruction is spaced out over time, instead of concentrated in a single session. If successful, the new functionality will be made available to the 20,000

Expanding the Reach of ASSISTments

Neil Heffernan is the principal investigator on a one-year, $500,000 award from Educause, through the Next Generation Learning Challenges program. With the award, he will seek to double the number of students in 7th to 9th grade mathematics classes benefiting from ASSISTments within one year, and establish a technology and professional development plan that will enable the number of ASSISTments users to be scaled to more than a million by 2015.

Analyzing Cloud-computing Policies

Daniel Dougherty and Kathi Fisler (Computer Science), with Shriram Krishnamurthi (Brown University), received a three-year, $500,000 NSF award to conduct research into access-control security policies. The work is aimed at developing logic-based tools that can analyze the array of policies governing how information is shared across cloud-computing applications. The goal is to detect unintended interactions that may cause harmful consequences, such as unauthorized sharing of personal and sensitive information.

Evaluating Stored Energy Systems

John Orr and Alexander Emanuel (Electrical and Computer Engineering) received a threeyear, $495,000 award to participate in a national smart grid demonstration program. Funded by the Department of Energy, the project will evaluate the benefits of large-scale distributed energy storage systems. Premium Power Corporation, as prime contractor, will work with National Grid, Sacramento Municipal Utility, and SAIC to install storage test systems in four cities. As the university partner, WPI will perform technical and economic evaluations of the performance of the systems in Worcester and Everett, Mass., and engage in community outreach and curriculum development related to large-scale energy storage.