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WNEU Faculty Members Receive National Science Foundation Grants

SPRINGFIELD — The National Science Foundation recently awarded two grants to support research by two Western New England University faculty members — Robert Barron, assistant professor of Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management, and Amer Qouneh, assistant professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering — and their collaborative partners.

Barron is a co-principal investigator on a project titled “INFEWS/T2 FEWtures: Innovation Analysis Framework for Resilient Futures, with Application to the Central Arkansas River Basin.” The project will develop strategies to promote resilient small-town and rural (STAR) communities using renewably powered fertilizer production and wastewater treatment. FEWtures will equip STAR communities to face urgent challenges such as low crop prices, high prices for energy and fertilizer, pollution, and depleting water supplies. Barron is among a team of researchers led by the University of Kansas and including Western New England University, Kansas State University, and Washington State University that have been awarded $2.5 million to craft a creative, multi-faceted set of responses to these challenges.

The focus of Qouneh’s research is “SHF: Medium: Collaborative Research: Enhancing Mobile VR/AR User Experience: An Integrated Architecture-System Approach.” This research will open the door for next-generation mobile platforms that provide high-quality, low-power applications for virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). It seeks to develop a synergetic architecture-system approach to improve the user’s experience with AR and VR by addressing performance, battery life, and thermal issues. The project is a collaboration effort between Qouneh and faculty at the University of Florida and the University of Houston. The total amount of the grant is $1.1 million.

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