The Champlin Foundation awards $500,000 to URI for cutting-edge technologies

Grants enhance access and resources for multiple URI programs

KINGSTON, R.I., January 12, 2021 — The Champlin Foundation has awarded $500,000 to the University of Rhode Island for highly advanced technologies that will enhance learning for students in a variety of disciplines.

The Champlin Foundation, one of the oldest philanthropic organizations in Rhode Island, has funded projects at URI for more than 30 years that cumulatively total more than $15 million. This year they supported three multidisciplinary proposals spanning engineering, biomedical and pharmaceutical sciences, chemistry, and the Graduate School of Oceanography.

“The Champlin Foundation has demonstrated a strong commitment to URI and our students by supporting technological resources that provide an outstanding educational experience,” said Donald H. DeHayes, URI provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “New technologies are costly, but they are essential to the intellectual advancement of our students and the contemporary skills they need to build as we prepare them for the future of work.”

“We are grateful to The Champlin Foundation for their continued generosity,” said Katharine Hazard Flynn, executive director of Corporate and Foundation Relations at the URI Foundation & Alumni Engagement. “The Champlin Foundation has consistently supported proposals from the URI faculty that build essential technological resources that benefit our students and this state, as well as encourage hands-on learning opportunities.”

Projects funded this year:

Anywhere/Anytime Access to Engineering Computer Tools: $185,000 to improve the undergraduate engineering experience for all students by providing a 24/7 online access to specialized engineering computing software on any personal computer. This “virtual desktop environment” is run remotely on a College server and ensures that students from all socioeconomic backgrounds will have similar educational experiences to aid their learning. They can use these tools as part of scheduled class sessions, for homework, for course projects, and in their senior year capstone project work even if they do not have physical access to the College’s computer center.

Principal Investigators: Peter F. Swaszek, Department of Electrical, Computer and Biomedical Engineering; Ali S. Akanda, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Resit Sendag, Department of Electrical, Computer and Biomedical Engineering; Alfred J. Speredelozzi, Engineering Computer Center

Acquire Robotic Equipment for Field-Oriented Robotic Education (FORE): $130,000 in funding to acquire an unmanned surface vehicle and an unmanned ground vehicle and a suite of cutting-edge sensors. These land and sea robotic instruments will figure prominently in new classroom experiences, outreach opportunities, and extra-curricular activities. Students will use real-world applications and gain meaningful experiential learning to prepare for a career in robotics. The College expects 120 undergraduate students in three primary classes to initially benefit from the acquired assets, and after learning activities have been developed and refined, the College anticipates reaching more than 300 students in an array of classes.

Principal Investigators: Mingxi Zhou, Graduate School of Oceanography; Christopher Roman, Graduate School of Oceanography/Department of Ocean Engineering; Chengzhi Yuan, Department of Mechanical, Industrial and Systems Engineering; Paolo Stegagno, Department of Electrical, Computer and Biomedical Engineering; Stephen Licht, Department of Ocean Engineering

Growing New Organs: Tissue Engineering Technologies for Hands-on Learning and Research: $185,000 to establish a facility that provides practical and conceptual training in cutting-edge tissue engineering technologies. Pharmacy, Engineering, and Chemistry students will ethically create custom tissues or organs using 3D printing technology, and then use a state-of-the-art Human Emulation System to get hands-on experience in the exploration of tissue and organ function and their responses to therapies, a vital tool for testing therapies. Students gain competence in innovative technologies as well as explore sophisticated textbook concepts in unprecedented ways.

Principal Investigators: Jyothi Menon (Primary PI), Department of Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences; Jie Shen, Department of Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences/ Department of Chemical Engineering; Geoffrey Bothun, Department of Chemical Engineering; Jason Dwyer, Department of Chemistry; Xinyuan Chen, Department of Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences; Daniel Roxbury, Department of Chemical Engineering.