Through continued research and discovery — or progress — the University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science is rising to new heights, emerging as a leader among its peer institutions in some of the most promising engineering fields. Our advances in engineering research are making an impact — on medicine, on transportation, on the environment and more. This progress is what keeps the School on the cutting edge, attracts the most talented faculty and graduate students and further elevates our educational programs.
We invite you to join us in our innovation, progress and promise. With your support, the U.Va. Engineering School will continue to be on the cutting edge of engineering research and education.
Electrical engineer John Lach found a great way to balance his theoretical and applied research: he took a walk across Grounds to the School of Medicine and asked how he could help his colleagues! The result: a wearable sensor that would, among other things, help doctors better diagnose and evaluate treatments for Parkinson's disease. This collaborative invention allows medical professionals to collect the quantifiable and continuous data they need to draw accurate conclusions. Currently being used to help U.Va. neurosurgery professors study the effectiveness of deep brain stimulators for Parkinson's patients, the wearable sensors, Lach notes, are "helping researchers move away from exclusive reliance on observation and patient self-reporting."
Law enforcement agencies across the country maintain spatial data on criminal activity and public safety — from the proximity of bars to public schools to the tracking of gang-related activity — and they all manage this data differently, making it virtually impossible for localities to share information. Donald Brown, chair of the Department of Systems and Information Engineering Department at U.Va., has developed a program that could change all that: the Geospatial Repository for Analysis and Safety Planning, or GRASP. Developed with the support of the National Institute of Justice, the GRASP system is a Web-based repository that translates the electronic information from multiple jurisdictions into a common format. "Whether tackling ordinary crimes or gang-related violence, GRASP can help officials understand the spatial significance of crimes over a large region," Brown says. The system has already been tested in Charlotte, N.C., and Baltimore County, Md. Plans are under way for testing in the San Francisco Bay area.
Child Car Seat Safety
In a ground-breaking study on child car seat safety, Engineering School researchers discovered that children under age 2 who are properly strapped into rear-facing car seats are more than four times less likely to be injured in side crashes than those in front-facing car seats. Christopher Sherwood ('91) of the U.Va. Center for Applied Biomechanics, together with mechanical and aerospace engineering professor Jeff Crandall ('92, '94) and research associate Basem Henary conducted the study, which was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sherwood presented the study at the American Academy of Pediatrics Conference in Washington, D.C., in October 2005.
A research professor in mechanical and biomedical engineering at U.Va., George T. Gillies ('76, '80) has invented a special type of catheter for use in brain surgery. The innovative double-tube catheter alleviates one of the biggest problems in delivering therapeutic agents directly into brain tissue — trapped air — allowing physicians to deliver treatments like chemotherapy directly to the affected area without complications. This revolutionary invention earned Gillies the distinction of being the University of Virginia Patent Foundation's 2006 Edlich-Henderson Inventor of the Year. Robert S. MacWright, executive director of the Foundation, says the invention "shows particular promise in the treatment of brain cancer and complex brain diseases that today are simply untreatable with existing tools and methods."
Computer Science professor Kevin Skadron and undergraduate student Eugene Otto ('06) have been working to mitigate the effects of "thermal throttling," the process by which computer operating systems protect processors from potentially damaging heat levels. With Skadron's guidance, Otto is working to adjust the Linux operating system scheduling so that thermal throttling is less likely to disrupt high-priority or interactive tasks. "There is already a large safety margin," notes Skadron, whose specialty is architectures for temperature-aware and power-aware computing," So you can delay throttling until it becomes absolutely critical." The project has been funded by a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates grant.