Design faculty compete for funding

Participants competed for $1,000 in professional development funds.
Jeff Crump, a professor of housing studies, presents his project during research slam on Friday in Rapson Hall.
February 28, 2010

With nothing but five minutes of time and a projection screen, professors and faculty from the University of Minnesota College of Design competed for $1,000 in professional development funds at the school’s first-ever “research slam.”
The event took place Friday morning in Rapson Hall and featured 18 faculty participants from various departments within the College of Design. Each participant was allotted five minutes to present research that was either proposed or already underway.
The winner, Lucy Dunne — a professor in the apparel design department — was selected for her research in “wearable technology.”
The prize was awarded based on votes from audience members, including the participants themselves, following the presentations.
“I sort of bungled my talk a little bit, so I wasn’t expecting it,” Dunne said.
One facet of Dunne’s “wearable technology” project would expand on a medical monitoring system composed of wearable body sensors that could measure everything from heart rate to body temperature.
Through this method of “pervasive monitoring,” patients would have the option of going home instead of “staying in an expensive hospital bed all night,” Dunne said.
“We can change the way health care is delivered.”
Dunne added that the technology has potential for recreational uses in the realm of sports and video gaming, as well.
The devices could be used to monitor athletes for severity of impacts or possible concussions.
While the current device model proposed is more similar to a wrist watch, Dunne said she hopes to transform the technology into something that would “fade more seamlessly into clothing.”
Dunne said she has collaborated with industry partners who have expressed interest in the technology and currently has a patent application under review for a spinal posture sensor.
The professional development funds can be used for anything from materials to conferences, as long as it relates to her research.
Dunne has been working on the research for the last 10 years and has been teaching at the University since 2008.
Other proposed projects included a virtual design studio where architects would use screens in a digital consortium design lab. Another focused on ethical dilemmas in the design industry, promoting more environmentally friendly methods of design.
Dunne said the time limit was especially challenging.
“Generally, when I present, I’m usually giving an hour-long talk on lots of things, or a 10-minute talk on one specific thing,” Dunne said. “But to give a five-minute talk on everything — that’s a different challenge.”
Carol Waldron, a graphic design professor, said everyone in the school becomes so immersed in their work that they don’t get the opportunity to learn about other research happening in the college.
“This way we get to learn about what our colleagues are doing,” Waldron said.
The research slam was designed to help the college become more of a “think tank,” said Associate Dean Marilyn DeLong.
“It was successful. We’re hoping to have more in the future.”

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