The Edmond Sun

May 1, 2014

UCO students to present 3-D wheelchair simulation research in D.C.


Special to The Sun

EDMOND — University of Central Oklahoma computer science students Sean Smith and Wenxi Zeng have been selected to present their research on a 3-D wheelchair simulation system to members of Congress and the national science community at the Council of Undergraduate Research’s annual “Posters on the Hill,” April 28-29 in Washington, D.C.

“Posters on the Hill” gives undergraduate students from around the country an opportunity to share personal research stories and discoveries on a national scale. Of 600 applications, 60 were selected to exhibit. Central will be the only Oklahoma university represented.

Smith, a senior from Tunnel Hill, Ga., and Zeng, a sophomore from Jianxi, China, developed the simulation system under the advisement of Jicheng Fu, assistant professor of computer science at Central.

The simulator allows young children with severe motor impairments to practice the fundamental skills required to safely control a joystick-operated wheelchair. The trio has been working on the system’s development for more than a year, thanks to a $135,000 Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and Oklahoma IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence grant awarded to Fu in 2012.

“I feel very blessed to have Sean and Wenxi in my research group. They have the kind of mature personality that this work requires — when I assign a task to them, I know they’ll be able to do it. They have the ability carry out research independently and their work has constantly surprised me,” Fu said.

Through a partnership with the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, children have already been able to test and use the simulator. Fu hopes that with additional partnerships, the simulator might be commercialized and widely used.

Smith, who will graduate from Central in May, hopes to continue his work in the computer science field. Zeng plans to complete his degree at Central and continue his education with a master’s degree.

CUR is a national professional association representing faculty and administrators at nearly 1,000 academic institutions, working to provide students with a wide range of opportunities to learn science by taking an active role in scientific research.