W. M. Keck Foundation
CBI would like to thank the W. M. Keck Foundation for funding.
Grants from the W.M. Keck Foundation are awarded to only the most innovative research in medicine, science, and engineering. They are also highly prestigious—only six institutions received grants in the medical research category in 2014. Kiisa and her team were honored to be among the institutions chosen for awards back in June.
“We were just thrilled to receive this grant,” says Kiisa. “But our success required the help and support of the whole NAU community.”
The university will benefit from this grant long after Kiisa has completed her research—the money is being spent on new, state-of-the-art atomic force microscopes and upgrades to NAU’s electron microscope.
Kiisa is excited for what this will mean for future students and researchers at the university.
“With this new equipment, we’ll support younger faculty and their efforts to do cutting-edge research with students at NAU.”
Based in Los Angeles, the W. M. Keck Foundation was established in 1954 by the late W. M. Keck, founder of the Superior Oil Company. The Foundation’s grant making is focused primarily on pioneering efforts in the areas of medical, science and engineering research. The Foundation also maintains an undergraduate education program that promotes distinctive learning and research experiences for students in the sciences and in the liberal arts, and a Southern California Grant Program that provides support for the Los Angeles community, with a special emphasis on children and youth from low-income families, special needs populations and safety-net services. More information.
–from Only at NAU
National Science Foundation
Partnerships for Innovation: Emulating Biological Actuation
This Partnerships for Innovation project from Northern Arizona University (NAU) uses a commercially available, state-of-the-art, powered foot-ankle prosthesis (the iWalk BioM) as a research platform to develop and test a new theory (the ‘winding filament’ theory) of how muscles work, with the goal of emulating biological actuation in man-made devices. The project integrates biological inspiration and engineering expertise within a business and economic development context. To achieve these goals, engineers at iWalk will modify a prosthesis prototype so that the winding filament model can be integrated into the existing control software. At NAU, engineers will code the winding filament model to fit the required architecture. The modified prosthesis will be provided to engineers at NAU and Electric Torque Machines, a business that will install the algorithms in the prosthesis. Once the new algorithms are installed, three participants with amputation will wear the prosthesis in a series of experiments designed to compare the kinematics, kinetics, energetics, and adaptability of walking with the conventional vs. the modified prosthesis. The competitive landscape in powered prosthetic devices will be analyzed and a commercialization strategy will be developed. If the project is successful, the winding filament model will become a market-accepted innovation for controlling a wide range of powered devices, including prostheses, exoskeletons, and robots. The project will also further the understanding of control principles involved in muscle-like actuation. The broader impacts of this research will enhance the innovation and economic competitiveness of the knowledge enhancement partner (KEP) companies by developing new control algorithms for controlling prosthetic and other devices, including exoskeletons and robots. The innovations have the potential to improve the quality of life for millions of disabled Americans. The long-term goal is to design robotic muscles that, like human muscles, will adapt instantaneously and automatically to changes in the loading environment during operation. This academe/business collaboration will stimulate the technology-based business environment that is growing around NAU’s academic community. The project will provide interdisciplinary training in biology, engineering, and business for undergraduate and graduate students and educational advancement for professional engineers. The project has the potential to transform the understanding of muscle function and human motor control. Partners at the inception of the project are NAU (Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Biological Sciences and Office of the VP for Research), iWalk, Inc. (Bedford, MA), Electric Torque Machines (ETM), Inc. (Flagstaff, AZ), and NAU Ventures (Flagstaff, AZ). Each of the partners brings significant expertise and experience to the collaborative effort. The iWalk BioM prosthesis represents the state-of-the-art in prosthesis design to emulate the function of the human foot-ankle, with several patents for innovative technology. ETM has a proven track record of commercializing novel motors and controllers featuring unique but practical architectures and designs, with significant improvements in efficiency and high continuous torque. NAU has patented a linear actuator inspired by basic research on how muscles work.
The Center for Bioengineering Innovation
The Center for Bioengineering Innovation (CBI), supported by the NAU Technology Research Initiative Fund, is a research center that increases the collaboration and productivity of the Nishikawa Lab. Check out the CBI website for more information!