R&D: SMU Gets $5M From Templetons for Engineering Research, UTA Patents ‘Smart Cushion’

Also, you'll learn about an award-winning UNT professor and what his next study will entail. Here are some of the research projects underway in North Texas that could make lives better.

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Whats new, next, and reimagined in Dallas-Fort Worth ResearchEvery week, we pore through press releases and websites doing a little research of our own. We’re looking for scientists, professors, engineers, entrepreneurs—anybody, really—engaging in research and development across North Texas.

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Templetons commit $5M to engineering research at SMU

Rich Templeton

Rich Templeton [Photo: Texas Instruments]

Texas Instruments Chairman, President and CEO Rich Templeton and his wife, Mary, have committed $5 million for research at the Lyle School of Engineering at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

“Research is essential to SMU’s ability to make an impact through technology. We’re delighted to help make that happen,” said Rich Templeton, who also serves on SMU’s Board of Trustees.

“Research is essential to SMU’s ability to make an impact through technology.”
Rich Templeton

The gift includes $4 million for endowment and $1 million for operations, and it gives a major boost the university’s externally sponsored research, SMU said in a release.

The Lyle School will work in collaboration with the university’s Office of Research and Graduate Studies, to select projects that benefit SMU’s research portfolio, along with faculty who have strong track records for significant external research funding and success in recruiting elite graduate students, the university said.

“This investment in research is critical to strengthening SMU’s academic quality and attracting top graduate students who will seek solutions to some of the world’s most stubborn problems,” SMU President R. Gerald Turner said.

UTA patents smart seat cushion to aid wheelchair users

A smart seat cushion that uses changes in air pressure to redistribute body weight and prevent painful ulcers caused by long periods of sitting in a wheelchair has been patented by the University of Texas at Arlington.

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UTA has patented this smart seat cushion for use by wheelchair users. [Photo Courtesy UT Arlington]

The university said that the same tech could be used to create prosthetic liners that adapt their shape to accommodate changes in body volume during the day, while maintaing a comfortable fit for the prosthesis. That could lessen the skin damage a poor-fitting prostheses can cause to the wearer’s residual limb.

“Pressure ulcers caused by long periods of sitting without relieving pressure at boney regions such as the tailbone, frequently occur in people who spend significant amount of time on wheelchairs,” Muthu Wijesundara, co-inventor of the technology and chief research scientist at UTA’s Research Institute or UTARI, said in a release. “In the case of prosthesis users, poor fitting of the prosthesis leads to pressure injuries for amputees that can severely affect their daily life. 

Wijesundara said the new tech “improves on existing solutions by including real-time pressure monitoring and automated pressure modulation capabilities to help combat the formation of pressure ulcers or sores.” 

Read here for more information on the smart cushion.

UNT prof wins Fulbright award, will study Jamaica’s ‘unattached’ youth

Darrell Hull

Darrell Hull, an educational psychology professor at the University of North Texas, has been named a Fulbright U.S. Scholar program award winner, and he will travel to Jamaica to conduct his Fulbright research.

Hull will study “unattached” youth in the island nation, young people who aren’t employed and are not in a training program or school. It’s a demographic that makes up roughly 30 percent of the total youth population in Jamaica.

“They don’t have the skills to get a job,” Hull said in a UNT release. “They’d like to work, but they don’t have the ability to get any traction.”

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