Biology, engineering jointly train students in neuro-mechanics

Twenty-eight graduate students in biology and engineering at Case Western Reserve University will have research opportunities over the next five years to work with leaders in the fields of biorobotics and neuro-mechanical prostheses.

A $2.62 million Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) grant from the National Science Foundation will enable students to participate in designing agile robots with the ability to maneuver over a diverse terrain, and creating devices to restore coordinated and balanced movements to individuals with impaired nervous systems.

Roy Ritzmann, professor of biology and the grant's principal investigator, and Patrick Crago, professor of biomedical engineering and co-principal investigator, will oversee the CWRU project.

CWRU's "Training in Neuro-mechanical Systems" was among the projects which NSF funded at 21 doctorate-granting institutions to stimulate key changes in graduate education and research training. The agency's goal is to cultivate more well-rounded scientists and engineers with greater interdisciplinary competence.

The grant will support research, courses, travel to conferences in this field and funds to bring the "stars" of neuro-mechanics to campus to interact with students, says Ritzmann.

The projects are geared to educate and prepare scientists and engineers for emerging career opportunities in industry, government, and academics.

"The program hopes to generate sufficient interaction between biology and engineering students so that they can achieve an understanding of basic concepts and vocabulary to promote efficient work in multidisciplinary teams," notes Ritzmann.

"Cross-disciplinary understanding and training is required to understand the complex problems in these fields. One field cannot handle the full complexity of the problem," adds Crago, whose research group develops electrical devices implanted in the body to restore movement to arms and legs l

Contact: Susan Griffith
Case Western Reserve University

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