URI students, faculty to benefit from four Champlin Foundation Grants totaling $464,000.00

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KINGSTON, R.I. – January 20, 2010 — The Champlin Foundations has provided the University of Rhode Island with $464,430 to purchase high-tech equipment to advance education and student learning.

The grants will fund new tools and facilities to provide a virtual gateway for ocean exploration and education, to provide assistive technologies for students with disabilities, and to establish a new biomedical engineering design laboratory for students. Funds will also be used to establish an Instructional Technology Center where faculty can experiment with emerging technology teaching tools.

“These projects generously funded by The Champlin Foundations allow our faculty to expand opportunities for our students and to hone their skills in the use of the latest technological advances to engage students,” said Don DeHayes, URI provost and vice president for academic affairs. “We are very grateful to The Champlin Foundations for their continued support and commitment to student learning.”

The Champlin Foundations’ generosity toward URI spans nearly 40 years. In 1970, the Foundations made their first donation to the University in the form of a scholarship grant for the College of Pharmacy. Since 1986 they have awarded grants to URI totaling more than $11.8 million.

The URI Foundation’s office of Corporate and Foundation Relations assisted in the development of the proposals submitted and provided other technical assistance to the process.

The following grants have been awarded this year:

Inner Space Center Data Portal for Ocean Exploration and Education – $112,000 – This Internet-based system will consist of computer hardware and software that is integrated with a large video server and archival storage system to provide instantaneous access to streams of scientific data for the study and exploration of the world’s oceans. The portal will significantly enhance the educational environment for many different types of users, including K-12 students and teachers as well as undergraduate and graduate students studying oceanography, ocean engineering, marine biology, underwater archaeology, and those taking a new undergraduate course in ocean exploration. In addition, the portal will improve the user experience for scientists and student researchers who are directly involved in the real-time research expeditions supported by the URI Inner Space Center.

Biomedical Engineering Capstone Design Laboratory – $116,840 – This core facility will provide senior biomedical engineering students with an opportunity to work on challenging real-world problems with faculty, clinical professionals and industry partners in such disciplines as neuroengineering, biomeasurements, biomedical controls and cardiovascular mechanics. The lab will provide eight workstations for prototyping electronic and embedded devices, eight workstations for hardware testing and software development, advanced modeling software, and high-quality equipment such as a biosignal real-time processor and controller, motion tracking systems, and a materials testing machine. The laboratory will provide the necessary educational opportunities to prepare the students for careers in biomedical engineering while also supporting four courses in the newly approved biomedical engineering curriculum.

Assistive Technology Network – $76,790 – Assistive computerized technologies such as speech-output screen readers, text reading software and speech recognition software are critical factors in making college courses and Web sites accessible to students with disabilities. This grant will expand efforts to redesign the current system of assistive technology at URI from one of a limited number of stand-alone computers to one with secure network access from any location via the Internet. It will also provide assistive technology and literacy support resources to the URI School of Education’s teacher preparation programs, thus providing better training to K-12 teachers to work with students who have disabilities and/or literacy issues. In addition, the grant will fund development of an assistive technology network with the Community College of Rhode Island to provide a blueprint for expanding access to other colleges and schools in the state.

Overcoming the Generational Divide: Building a Bridge to Enhance Learning – $158,800 – The evolution of classroom technology and URI’s expanded online learning efforts will enhance the faculty’s exposure to and application of technology to engage students and promote learning. This grant will provide the funding to update the URI Instructional Technology Center to create a ‘judgment free zone’ where faculty can learn to use technology from their peers and the technologists who support the equipment. The technology includes: problem-based learning systems, a classroom capture system, the Sympodium annotation system and a Crestron control system. Audience response systems will also be made available, and new PCs will have software for creating and managing a wide variety of academic content.