Cal Poly Honors Faculty for Grants and Patents

January 13, 2017

Contact: Amy Hewes
College of Engineering

Last fall, Cal Poly honored faculty and staff who received a record $32 million in grants and whose research resulted in five patents for the university in the 2015-16 academic year. Patent holders from the College of Engineering included Patrick Lemieux and Jordi Puig-Suari. Biomedical Engineering Professor Trevor Cardinal was recognized as having the highest grant funding total for the college.

Lemieux, a professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department was awarded a patent for “Air-Cycle Environmental Control Systems and Methods for Automotive Applications.” This air-cycle air-conditioning invention uses an automotive turbocharger as the system core to maximize cooling while minimizing weight and space, as well as impacts on engine performance.

Aerospace Engineering Professor Jordi Puig-Suari and Austin Williams (B.S. and M.S., Aerospace Engineering, 2013) were awarded a patent for “CubeSat Systems, Method and Apparatus.” These nano-satellites piggyback on the launches of larger satellites. The basic CubeSat unit is a box about 4 inches square; larger CubeSats are multiples of that unit.

Additional patent holders from the 2015-16 academic year included:

— Dennis Fantin and Art MacCarley received a patent for “Transforming a Tactually Selected User Input into an Audio Output.” Fantin, blind since age 12, and MacCarley developed a computer-implemented process to assist the visually impaired, transforming the touch of a selected Braille key into an analog audio signal output as human speech with an electro-acoustic transducer.

— Carmen Trudell and student Natacha Schnider, patent for “System and Method for Air Filtration Via Cyclone Separators Enclosed Within Exterior Walls.” The invention uses cyclone separators mounted within walls to purify the air in buildings.

— Jay Singh and former student Evan Cernokus, patent for “System, Method and Apparatus for Making and Using Flex Column Void-Based Packing Materials.” Their system for forming space-consuming, shock-absorbing packing materials uses a three-sided flex-column to eliminate the need for non-recyclable polystyrene packing peanuts and better protect shipped items saving time and money in a manner that is also easier on the environment.

Funded Research
“We are celebrating an unprecedented year of externally funded research activity at the university,” said Dean Wendt, dean of research in the Office of Research and Economic Development.

Grant funding for research projects was up 25 percent over last year’s $26 million, and “ranks as the highest amount of external funding on record at Cal Poly,” Wendt said. “The $32 million in funding for 2015-16 is a significant contribution to our institution and to the education of our students.”

There are other benefits to campus research, Wendt said. The grants contributed to more than $250,000 in tuition, fees and scholarships for students; funded more than $650,000 in lab equipment in the university’s six colleges; supported the wages of 58 Cal Poly Corporation employees; and paid $1.8 million in wages to more than 800 student researchers.

The total amount of external funding for College of Engineering researchers was $8,513,403, more than a quarter of the university total. Top awardee Trevor Cardinal, biomedical engineering professor, received a $2.6 million grant to support Cal Poly’s regenerative medicine program.

Funding from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine supports the training of a workforce capable of accelerating stem cell treatments to patients with unmet clinical needs. Cal Poly’s regenerative medicine program has graduated 50 specialists now working in the biotech industry, the medical device industry, health care professions and in academic labs. Eight of them continued in Ph.D. programs.

Offered to 10 students each year, the master’s degree specialization in regenerative medicine includes graduate students from biomedical engineering, biology and animal science. “Students complete a year of laboratory-intensive coursework and an independent project before they join a biotech company or research institute for a nine-month internship,” explained Trevor Cardinal, program coordinator.

President Jeffrey D. Armstrong praised the faculty, who in addition to their teaching duties also apply for and oversee the research, and the staff of the Sponsored Programs and Grants Development offices who administer the more than 500 grants.

“You are impacting lives. You are helping students succeed,” he told the group. “And your careers are just blossoming and growing. It’s very, very exciting.”

Individuals who had the highest grant funding totals from other colleges included:

— College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences: Stuart Styles, bioresource and agricultural engineering.
— College of Architecture and Environmental Design: Cornelius Nuworsoo, city and regional planning.— College of Liberal Arts: Patrick Lin, philosophy.
— College of Science and Mathematics: Stan Yoshinobu, mathematics.
— Orfalea College of Business: Stephen Hamilton, economics.



Top: Patrick Lemieux, center, with President Jeffrey D. Armstrong, left, and Dean Wendt, dean of research

Bottom: Trevor Cardinal, center, with Armstrong and Wendt

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