Engineering professor awarded $7,000 grant

JonWhite-IDPhotoMarch 11, 2016 | Engineering |

Engineering professor awarded $7,000 grant

Dr. Jon White, assistant professor of engineering and director of the computer engineering program, has been awarded a $7,000 faculty grant from the national funding agency VentureWell.

VentureWell is a funding agency that focuses on entrepreneurship with a humanitarian aim. The organization is dedicated to helping the advancement of student ideas and inventions with the potential to help others around the world. VentureWell has given over $7.5 million in grants to over 500 student teams since its beginning almost 20 years ago.

The grant was awarded to aid in research for a student project titled, “Multidisciplinary Tech Entrepreneurship in a Rural Setting.”

White’s idea for this project came in an effort to expand the work that engineering students do in their senior capstone class, where students design and manufacture devices to fill certain needs. Students in the class have created items such as a portable backpack refrigerator to bring medical supplies to places in Africa with no electricity and a device that automatically dispenses medicine at the proper time for patients with Alzheimer’s. This grant project will allow students to focus specifically on designing devices that can be used to solve problems in the rural areas that surround Harding.

White said the location of the University as well as student interest in service work in other countries influenced his decision to focus on rural technology for the project. He said focusing on rural areas around the school will help students as they try to serve in rural countries.

“We will get out into the community, identify needs in the rural community, and work to develop products that fill these needs,” White said.

The end goal is to have patentable products that can be used globally. “We want to see how technology-based solutions need to be modified to serve rural communities.”

Students will work in teams of business, art and engineering majors to solve a problem of their choosing, while White will act as a mentor and supervisor to the teams. White said what he appreciated most about the grant and the project is its end goal.

“I was happy to get this grant because it has a humanitarian aim,” White said. “To me, Christian service is at the core of what we do here at Harding.”

White is currently living in Lviv, Ukraine, with his family doing research as a part of a Fulbright Grant funded by the U.S. Department of State. His work involves teaching and research related to green computing. He will return in seven months to begin work on this new project.

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