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Engineering Professor Wins Second Major Grant for Bio-inspired Propulsion

Given the challenge of developing new, high-performance methods to propel underwater vehicles, Associate Professor Hilary Bart-Smith, a mechanical engineer, has turned to nature for her inspiration. This year, Bart-Smith secured her second Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) grant from the Department of Defense to expand on her pioneering investigations of aquatic propulsion. (More)

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U.Va. Student Entrepreneurs’ New App Keeps Politicians in Touch with Voters’ Views

University of Virginia students Tara Raj and Garrett Allen are the creators of “VotersChoice,” a new mobile app that makes it easy for political representatives — and potentially candidates — to survey their constituents’ opinions on current public issues, from city planning and spending appropriations to new bills, and everything in between. Scheduled for release this winter, the app allows any representatives in the local, state and national government to send opinion polls to their constituents and then receive real-time, aggregated feedback and analytics on the public’s views. (More)

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Rating Heartbeats to Save Lives

The American Heart Association estimates that by 2030 the number of patients with heart failure will rise by 50 percent. A decade ago, physicians began using cardiac resynchronization therapy, or CRT — an implantable device, such as a pacemaker, that coordinates the contraction of both ventricles. Working closely with University of Virginia colleague Dr. Kenneth Bilchick, M.D. Biomedical engineering Professor Frederick Epstein is developing a method to more accurately identify people who could benefit from CRT. (More)

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One-Time Student’s Start-up Aims to Help Students Stay Enrolled

Emmanuel Smadja (BSE ’03, MSE ’06), CEO of year-old MPOWER Financing, is working to help students mired in financial difficulty complete their degrees. MPOWER focuses on students left out of traditional loan programs, those with no credit histories or access to credit who come from abroad or lack a co-signer. It’s a large untapped market, Smadja says, which is why MPOWER’s initial goal is so high: 100,000 loans by 2017. (More)

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Mead Grants Extend Learning Beyond the Lecture Hall — But Not to the Moon

You might say that Ernest “Boots” Mead was the master of extension. In educational jargon, “extension” is an activity outside the curriculum meant to enhance and broaden students’ learning. A former music professor at the University of Virginia, Mead was renowned for inviting his students to his house for dinner and deep conversation. That eventually led to a fourth-year liberal arts seminar, an informal Socratic forum where he and the students met regularly to discuss topics they had chosen together. Recently students, faculty and alumni again gathered at Alumni Hall to celebrate his legacy at the announcement of this year’s 12 Mead Endowment winners. (More)

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The Joy of Engineering: A Rodman Recipe

Cooking and yoga, while they may have a certain science to each, are not the sort of classes one would typically expect engineering students to attend at the University of Virginia. However, the 2014 first-year class of Rodman Scholars continues a tradition of young leaders from unique backgrounds going beyond strictly academic pursuits. The Rodman Scholars Program — an honors program for the top 5 percent of each class in the U.Va. School of Engineering and Applied Science — offers alternative areas of study in addition to traditional engineering courses. (More)