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Dantu among 21 national awardees, only Texas professor to win funds

Ram Dantu, Computer Science and EngineeringYou are zipping along on the interstate when, all of a sudden, traffic comes to a dramatic halt. We’ve all experienced that familiar frustration, but a College of Engineering professor is working to make these dangerous driving situations a thing of the past.

Ram Dantu, above, professor of computer science and engineering, recently received an Innovation Corps award from the National Science Foundation to develop his Mobile Life Guard program for a commercial audience.

Dantu is the only professor in Texas to receive one of the inaugural I-Corps awards, and one of only 21 awardees in the country.

Dantu’s program would allow drivers to integrate their smartphones with their cars’ on-board computers. Through the integration, the smartphone would be able to analyze driver behavior and road conditions, and then send alerts to the driver or other drivers in the area. For instance, the program could alert drivers of construction delays ahead, poor weather conditions or that a driver ahead of them is braking for a speed bump.

The I-Corps program will give Dantu and his team access to guidance from private- and public-sector experts, a specially designed training curriculum and $50,000 of seed money.  

Dantu’s team will include a student entrepreneur and a mentor. Brandon Gadzick, a student in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, will fulfill the student role, and Alan Kushner, former chief technology advisor for the National Transportation Safety Board, will serve as the team mentor. The team members will travel to Stanford University to participate in the NSF I-Corps curriculum kickoff, which begins Oct. 10.

The I-Corps program selects up to 25 teams on a quarterly basis to assess the commercial viability of their previously-supported basic research.

Posted on: Thu 06 October 2011

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