Champlin Foundation awards URI more than $600,000 for educational tools, technology

Grants support programs in artificial intelligence, broadcast media, chemistry and engineering

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KINGSTON, R.I., December 12, 2017 — The Champlin Foundation, one of the oldest philanthropic organizations in Rhode Island, has awarded four grants totaling $623,460 to the University of Rhode Island for tools and technologies that support educational goals across the institution.

“For nearly 50 years, The Champlin Foundation’s generous support of the University’s teaching mission has enriched the education of thousands of URI students, whether in engineering, communications, health sciences, emerging technologies or other programs. Their strategic investment in cutting-edge scientific equipment and advanced technologies has distinguished our academic programs and provided distinctive learning opportunities for our students,” said URI Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald H. DeHayes.

The charitable organization has awarded annual grants to URI since 1986, which cumulatively total more than $14 million. Since its founding in 1932, the Champlin Foundation has awarded more than $550 million to fund capital projects and equipment for non-profit and educational organizations across Rhode Island.

“These new awards demonstrate the University’s commitment to multidisciplinary collaboration that engages a broad range of students, preparing them for the challenges of an increasingly complex society,” said Katharine H. Flynn, executive director of the URI Foundation Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations. “We are grateful for the Champlin Foundation’s continuing generosity.”

Equipment and technology related projects funded by The Champlin Foundation this year are:

In-house Printed Circuit Board Fabrication Station:  $168,595, to acquire this tool for hands-on teaching in electrical, computer, biomedical, mechanical and chemical engineering courses, as well as computer science. Students will create their own circuit prototypes in preparation for careers in such fast-growing sectors as next-generation high-speed wireless network infrastructure, machine learning, smart cities, Internet of Things, robotics and self-driving vehicles. Principal investigators: Tao Wei, Peter Swaszek, Haibo He, Godi Fischer, Qing Yang, and Kunal Mankodiya, all of the Department of Electrical, Computer, and Biomedical Engineering; Otto Gregory, Department of Chemical Engineering; James Miller, Department of Ocean Engineering; Yi Zheng and Chengzhi Yuan in the Department of Mechanical, Industrial & Systems Engineering; and Joan Peckham, Department of Computer Science and Statistics.

Chemistry from the Back Row: Engaging Students Using a Suite of State-of-the-Art Chemical Instruments for the Real-Time Visualization of Chemical Reactions and Phenomena: $162,000, to “bring the lab into the classroom” in large enrollment courses in the chemistry, chemical engineering, environmental engineering and geosciences disciplines. The requested instrumentation suite is widely used in modern chemical science, but its use for undergraduate education would be unique among universities nationally. This instrumentation will give approximately 2,400 students better understanding of chemical reactivity, including the movement, properties and interactions of molecules —knowledge that is essential as students pursue careers in chemistry, chemical engineering and the chemical enterprise, as well as careers in health care. Principal investigators: Mindy Levine, Jason Dwyer, Shahla Yekta, Michael McGregor, Cindy Graham Brittain, Sue Geldart and Silvana Ngo, all of the Department of Chemistry; Arijit Bose, Department of Chemical Engineering; and Thomas Boving, Department of Geosciences/Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Professional HD, Video/Sound Recording, Production and Broadcast Center: $149,800, to create an ultra-modern, multi-use, high definition, digital video/sound recording, production and broadcast center on the Kingston campus that will be the only facility of its kind and magnitude across the state. The center will include state-of-the-art digital video/sound recording and production capabilities. This facility will significantly enhance and expand curricula and job placement opportunities for students as broadcast journalists and anchors, multimedia reporters, videographers and digital video editors, film producers and directors, camera operators, video and audio engineers, as well as public affairs professionals in the private and public sectors. Principal investigators: Adam Roth, Tony Balko, John Pantalone, Keith Brown and Kendall Moore, all of the Harrington School of Communication and Media; David Porter, Information Technology; and Gerald Williams, Talent Development Program.

ai.uri: The Artificial Intelligence Lab: $143,065, to create an Artificial Intelligence Lab at the Carothers Library and Learning Commons on the Kingston campus that will provide an easy-to-access facility that will serve thousands of information-seeking students in all disciplines. The lab will be the first in the nation to be located in a library and will function as an information-rich source for all those wishing to learn about artificial intelligence, both theoretically and practically. It will provide “learning-by-doing” experiences for students through course projects or personal interest, including opportunities to explore projects on robotics, natural language processing, smart cities, smart homes, the Internet of Things and big data, with guided tutorials at beginner through advanced levels. Principal investigators: Kunal Mankodiya,  Department of Electrical, Computer and Biomedical Engineering; Cheryl Foster, Department of Philosophy; Joan Peckham, Department of Computer Science & Statistics/Big Data Initiative and Data Science Programs; Harrison Dekker, Angel Ferria and Karim Boughida, all of University Libraries.