Wichita State University professor wins $500K award to create prostheses

Zheng Chen, PhD, ME, an assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Wichita State University College of Engineering, has received a 5-year, $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to use novel technology to power artificial limbs.

According to a press release, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded Chen its Faculty Early Career Development Program grant for his project, “Artificial muscle based on dielectric elastomers for dexterous and compliant prostheses.” The project will begin in May.

Chen’s goal is to create dexterous, lightweight, energy-efficient prostheses using artificial muscles with dielectric elastomers, the release noted.

“Dr. Chen’s novel approach to artificial muscles has significant potential to help populations who have suffered the loss of a limb due to trauma, infection, diabetes or other diseases,” Jan Twomey, PhD, associate dean for graduate studies, research and faculty success in the College of Engineering, said in the release.

The project will make use of bio-inspired design, device fabrication and dynamic modeling, sensing and control, and will aim to provide affordable, reliable and comfortable prostheses to the estimated 2 million military veterans and civilians who have lost hands, arms or legs to accidents, natural disasters, wars, diseases or aging, according to the release.



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