College of Engineering awards six Multidisciplinary Research Seed Grants


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State College of Engineering recently awarded more than $300,000 to six project teams through its Multidisciplinary Research Seed Grants program.

The program supports research that will increase the competitiveness of faculty in attracting high-impact multidisciplinary and center-level research funding from the state and federal government, from industry or from research-oriented foundations. Faculty are encouraged to foster new partnerships with colleagues from differing fields who have complementary technical expertise.

An ad-hoc committee of engineering faculty members reviewed 38 submissions and then provided recommendations to the College of Engineering dean and associate deans.

“We continue to see an excellent response from our faculty for the Multidisciplinary Seed Grant program,” said Chris Rahn, J. Lee Everett Professor of Mechanical Engineering and associate dean for innovation in the College of Engineering. “Our faculty members are excited about the opportunity for seed funding, they have great ideas for new projects, and in writing their proposals, many of them began new collaborations with their colleagues.”

The six projects selected for funding are:

  • “AI-driven multi-UAV sensing system for crop health scouting,” by Minghui Zhu, associate professor of electrical engineering, and Long He, assistant professor of agricultural and biological engineering in the College of Agricultural Sciences
  • “Numerical modeling of 3D printable concrete,” by Michael Hillman, L. Robert and Mary L. Kimball Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Aleksandra Radlińska, associate professor of civil engineering
  • “The hidden cost of ‘free’ complexity in additive manufacturing: Towards a framework of design for inspectability,” by Jessica Menold, Hartz Family Career Development Assistant Professor in the School of Engineering Design, Technology, and Professional Programs, and Andrea Arguelles, assistant professor of engineering science and mechanics
  • “Developing novel rehabilitation to combat low back pain: A focused ultrasound intervention for muscle activation,” by Meghan Vidt, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, and Julianna Simon, assistant professor of acoustics
  • “Quantum molecular sensing using superradiance in designer’s 2D materials,” by Shengxi Huang, assistant professor of electrical engineering, and Sahin Ozdemir, associate professor of engineering science and mechanics
  • “Temporally and spatially resolved measurement of plasma-generated reactive species through liquid,” by Sven Bilén, professor of engineering design, electrical engineering and aerospace engineering and head of the School of Engineering Design, Technology, and Professional Programs, and John Asbury, professor of chemistry in the Eberly College of Science

Multidisciplinary Research Seed Grants provide up to $60,000 over one year to support undergraduate and graduate students, post-doctoral candidates, small equipment, software, user facility fees, and materials and supplies.

“In my mind, every proposal is a potential winner,” Rahn said. “We were only able to fund six projects, but all of the proposals our faculty drafted could be the first step in securing external grants. And that is one of the primary goals of this program, for faculty to develop great research ideas and new collaborations that can be used in future projects.”


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