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News Archive 2001 - 2010

Mechanical Engineering Professor Receives NSF CAREER Grant

July 17, 2009

The National Science Foundation has awarded a five-year, $430,000 Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) grant to Dr. Haiying Huang in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at The University of Texas at Arlington. The grant will allow Dr. Huang to further her development of a revolutionary sensor concept utilizing engineered skins to monitor the condition of structures as varied as airplanes and bridges.

CAREER grants are the NSF’s most prestigious awards, given to support early career-development activities by scholars who are most likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st century. Awardees are selected on the basis of creative proposals that effectively integrate research and education.

Dr. Huang’s project, titled “Passive Wireless Sensor Networks for Bio-inspired Sensor Skins,” involves implementing unpowered wireless sensors on a flexible substrate. These skins have integrated sensing and data transmitting capabilities and are inexpensive to fabricate.

“My work mainly involves developing efficient and effective ways to monitor the structural health of engineered structures,” said Dr. Huang. “We have all heard about the poor state that many of the nation’s bridges are in, so it is vitally important to be able to evaluate the condition of these structures and make needed repairs and retrofits before they fail.” Dr. Huang’s proposed sensor skin will also enable the transition of structural health monitoring from crack detection to damage prognosis, permitting a more efficient use of fiscal resources.

This research will lay a solid theoretical and experimental foundation for future research, eventually leading to truly “smart” sensor skins that can match or out-perform the sensory capabilities of human skin and having profound impacts on broad research areas such as robotics, biomedical research and wearable healthcare.

Part of the grant will allow Dr. Huang to develop course materials aimed to shift the traditional lecture-based, single-discipline teaching format to student-centric, multidisciplinary learning. The proposed course materials would emphasize the integration of knowledge for solving multidisciplinary problems. In addition to classroom teaching, the course materials will be available online to facilitate information exchanges with other educators and self-study by students. Workshops will be offered to inspire visiting K-12 students to pursue higher education in engineering.

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