Statement of Research Philosophy:
Having earned academic degrees with majors in measurements, instrumentation, automatic controls and in cybernetics, I have a philosophical vision of multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approach to analyzing and resolving issues in many fields like mechanical systems, robotics and bioengineering. I am of the firm conviction that a multidisciplinary analysis and approach will remain the guiding principle and rational basis to modern research and teaching.
As a graduate student, I worked on many research projects as experimental coordinator. This gave me an in-depth understanding of relevant issues in research and strengthened my belief that multidisciplinary thinking will be the driving force in engineering education.
In 1985, I invented the True Mass Flow Rate Meter through my dissertation work at the Institute of Measurement and Control of the Technical University Berlin. The following three years saw me as a research scientist at the Institute of Automotive Engineering where I researched into the modeling and simulation of driver behavior in various driving maneuvers. This research was sponsored by the German Research Foundations. Some of the results of this research were published in international peer review articles.
In 1988, I was appointed senior visiting research fellow at the department of engineering design and manufacture of the University of Hull. I executed research in the area of intelligent condition monitoring of workpieces during manufacturing processes. This research was later funded by the European Union, BRITE/EURAM.
I was appointed assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering by the University of New Mexico in 1989. I worked in the CAD Laboratory for Systems and Robotics whose director was Professor Mohammad Jamshidi. At the same time, I was invited as consultant by the Applied Technology Associates, Inc., ATA. In 1990, ATA appointed me a senior engineer to support the development of innovative motion sensors, control concepts, and sensor fusion applications.
In 1992, I was appointed senior lecturer of mechanical engineering at the University of Teesside. I was also assigned the duty of a research coordinator. In the same year, I was appointed director of the Manufacturing Systems Research Unit. As director of the Unit, my key function was in the management structure, directing research, ensuring that research and scholarship underpin teaching, and ensuring the effective use of allocated resources. Among my duties was also the provision of a focus for research, and leading academic researchers, providing support for new faculty, establishing research and advising on resources and funding. I had complete responsibility over budgetary control.
I also established the Laboratory for Intelligent Systems Technology (LIST) and funded almost all my graduate students through external funding. The establishment of LIST was through strong industrial support, particularly from those charged with steering manufacturing companies through research, development, consultancy and prototyping.
Research projects performed within the LIST ranged from machine vision and pattern recognition, applications of soft computing to research in water science and technology, research in neurophysiology and neurological rehabilitation, laser treatment of diabetic retinopathy to sports science.
As a Research Scientist at LIST, I was invited to work together with a group of doctors and surgeons at the Free University Berlin’s Department of Orthopedics and Neurological Rehabilitation (1994-2000). The team consisted of neurosurgeons that treated neurologically impaired patients in the Neurological and Rehabilitation Clinic (Klinik Berlin). There was no training equipment for rehabilitation at the time. After conceiving the idea of building a training equipment to rehabilitate impaired patients, the project statement (ideas) was formulated in medical terms. I then matched these medical ideas into engineering philosophy, concepts and methodologies. After extensive research my PhD student, Dietmar Uhlenbrock, and I fabricated a prototype of the gait training device in the Laboratory for Intelligent Systems Technology. This first Gait Trainer, Gait Trainer I, patented in Germany in 1997(Patent # 197 259 73).
After extensive clinical trials, a revised and improved version, the Gait Trainer II, evolved in 1999. This was also patented in Germany (Patent # 198 05 164) and is currently in use in the Klinik Berlin (Department of Neurological Rehabilitation of the Free University, Berlin) and also in many other clinical facilities in Europe, and in other countries. It is commercially known as the Gait Trainer GTI.
This device served as a significant breakthrough in medical technology, and this is where I derive my interest and passion, in human locomotor systems and neurorehabilitation.
I was appointed Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at New Mexico Tech where I single-handedly developed the Mechatronics Program, in line with my philosophy of multidisciplinary thinking and education. In both 2004 and 2005, I was appointed Course Director by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Institute for Continuing Education to develop short courses in neurorehabilitation. The outcome of these courses directed the McGraw-Hill Publishing Company to me and contracted me to write a novel book on neurorehabilitation. The book, Neurorehabilitation Devices: Engineering Design, Measurement and Control, was written and published by McGraw-Hill Publishing Company in 2005. Many educational establishments and research institutions have adopted the use of this book because of the ease to read and understand.
Chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, stroke, multiple sclerosis, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), congestive heart failure and diabetes, and multiple sclerosis (MS) are the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the world, representing 60% of all deaths. These conditions also cause major limitations in daily living for almost 1 out of 10 Americans or about 30 million people in the US. Although chronic conditions are among the most common and costly health problems, they are also among the most preventable ones.
Hemiplegic stroke, paraparesis from spinal cord injuries, and other upper motor neuron syndromes frequently cause serious mobility-related disabilities. The rehabilitation process is labor intensive. For many disorders, the most effective types of therapeutic intervention are unknown. Patient evaluation is often subjective, foiling determination of precise rehabilitation goals and assessment of treatment effects.
Growing life expectancy and more effective intensive care medicine result in a steadily growing prevalence of handicapped people in our society. To cope with this challenge, neurological rehabilitation has evolved as a new multiprofessional field over the last two decades.
It is my firm intent to be able to design, fabricate, test and validate a novel Smart Gait Rehabilitation System to perform quantitative analysis of human movements and to offer both passive gait training and locomotor training with optimized physiometric feedback, and other capabilities currently unavailable.
At UTEP I have succeeded in establishing the Laboratory for Industrial Metrology and Automation as teaching and research laboratory to serve as a home for assistance and consulting to industry, and a home for multi-investigator research projects and to conduct research intended to bring about innovation and practical solutions by focusing on industrially relevant research needs. This LIMA will bring together thinkers and practitioners from the many disciplines which have a common interest in measurement and automation. It will organize meetings, seminars, exhibitions, and national and international conferences on a large number of topics. It will have a strong level of local section activity in providing opportunities for interchange of experience and for introducing advances in theory and application.
As Louis Armstrong suggested that his success to travel to space as just a small step for himself but a greater step for humanity, I may contribute to his philosophy by researching to add some quality of life to physically challenged individuals by devising locomotor devices to enable them reduce their level of dependence on close-neighbors. To do this, I would like to create and work with a new breed of researchers across traditional disciplines and who think “outside the box” as a necessity for the field of neurorehabilitation to truly reach fruition and impact society with full force.
I would like to establish a virtual reality system to accommodate human locomotor systems and neurorehabilitation. To cope with this high level of research, I would like to educate this new breed of researchers, who will either themselves work across disciplines or know how to work with others across disciplinary lines in the interface between disciplines, that will be necessary to make this happen in the near future. To this end, I have succeeded, once again, in the establishment of the Laboratory for Human Motion Analysis and Neurorehabilitation within the College of Engineering. The capabilities within this laboratory will enable efficient and objective gait diagnosis and monitoring, more effective therapy with reduced time and labor, and it will also improve data collection and analysis for gait rehabilitation research.
The research program within the Lab for Human Motion Analysis and Neurorehabilitation will provide a forum for biomedical measurement and control, and hopefully motivate undergraduate and graduate students to interact and create a renewed interest in this area. This research laboratory will enable us develop the necessary educational tools to improve education and raise the competence of individuals in order to prepare them for the upcoming challenges of future measurements and control in biomedical engineering.
The research and developmental results obtained from this laboratory will be widely applicable to multiple areas of basic research in measurement and automation in biomedical engineering. It will also lead to the promotion of interdisciplinary understanding, and the impact of specific knowledge in the various bioengineering disciplines. The developed research infrastructure will be the first of its kind in the western region of U.S. It will benefit the nation’s economy a great deal by close collaboration with industry. It is anticipated that the benefits of the research and development performed in this laboratory will be realized in the form of job creation and economic growth. UTEP is an ideal site for the integration of diversity into engineering programs, projects and activities.
It is also well known that prolonged exposure to weightlessness associated with space flight provokes profound physiological changes in humans. Current research suggests that astronauts returning from spaceflight experience disturbances in head-trunk coordination, lower limb muscle activation patterning, kinematics, and alterations in their ability to coordinate effective landing strategies during jump tasks.
One of the focal points in my research is to understand the changes in central control mechanisms related to posture and the effects of microgravity. The studies within my laboratory involve the recording and the analysis of the balance and walking functions in pre-and post-flight astronauts with the ultimate aim to developing an innovative pre-and post-flight gait analysis and training system to counter related impairments acquired in space, and thus help astronauts recover quickly from these mentioned physiological changes on return to earth.
I may wish to state that my research commitments and achievements are geared towards the benefit to humankind with all humility and modesty because I believe in what Sir Francis Xavier formulated that, “The Greatest Saint is not he who does extraordinary things, but he who does ordinary things extraordinarily well.”
During my entire career as lecturer and researcher, I have established a trusting partnership and relationship with many prominent industrial and academic institutions in Europe and USA.
“Give me a lever long enough
And a prop strong enough.
I can single-handedly move the world.”