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July 3, 2017

ASU engineer receives NSF early-career award for work that may someday put your phone not in your pocket but on your sleeve

Think your tech is cool? Wait until you see what Umit Ogras is working on.

“If we accomplish this, smartphones and tablets will have a new form,” said the electrical engineer at Arizona State University. “You don’t always carry your phone. You always wear a shirt.”

ASU Assistant Professor
Umit Ogras

Flexible hybrid electronics can be bent or stretched. Picture pulling a wand from your pocket, unfurling a scroll, and watching a movie on a desktop-size screen.

Watching TV at home? Wave your arm and change channels. In the hospital? A disposable patch on your arm will use wireless connections to transmit data about blood pressure, heart rates and other vital signs to doctors and nurses. Wear a Fitbit watch when you go for a jog? That’s going to disappear into your sleeve, and it’s going to have scores more functions.

Ogras, an assistant professor in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, recently won a five-year, $500,000 early-career development grant from the National Science Foundation to continue developing flexible hybrid electronics.

“It makes wearable devices beyond watches,” Ogras said. “We want to make them totally flexible.”

Computers have gone from room-size in the 1950s to desktops in the 1980s to handhelds today. Ogras’ research takes them into the next realm.

“The smartphone can disappear if we wear it in our clothes,” he said.

Health, motion and gesture monitoring will revolutionize personal devices. Ogras envisions mute people wearing a glove that will interpret sign language and literally “voice” communication. Wheelchairs will be controlled by arm motion instead of a joystick. Maps and GPS can be incorporated into devices.

“It knows your location in the house and where you want to go,” Ogras said.

Flexible hybrid electronics
Graduate students show an example of a traditional electric board (left) and the flexible, solar-powered board that can be used in wearable monitors in ASU Assistant Professor Umit Ogras' lab in Tempe on June 28. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Three of the biggest problems Ogras is working to crack are the cost, size and battery.

His electronics use photovoltaic cells instead of batteries. The solar panels charge a small flexible battery during the day, which powers the electronics at night. The battery is 200 times less powerful than the battery in a typical smartphone. (It’s also 50 times lighter than a typical smartphone battery.) Energy harvesting is crucial.

Ogras has been working on the research for three years. He worked at Intel Corporation on smartphones — systems running on chips. His devices will run systems on polymer.

“We hope other people will start working in this domain,” he said.

The NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program offers awards in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.

Fourteen ASU faculty won the award this year. Typically the NSF funds about 350 CAREER faculty each year.

Top photo: ASU students show an example of a silicon-based element with embedded electrodes that will be able to sense movement in body parts in Assistant Professor Umit Ogras' lab. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Scott Seckel

Reporter , ASU Now

480-727-4502

 
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Gretchen Buhlig appointed to ASU Foundation’s top post

July 5, 2017

With 15 years in leadership roles supporting ASU, longtime fundraiser oversaw the launch of $1.5 billion Campaign ASU 2020

The Arizona State University Foundation for a New American University announced today that longtime fundraiser Gretchen Buhlig has been named chief executive officer of the organization, effective July 1.

Buhlig served as chief operating officer and managing director of the ASU Foundation, a nonprofit organization that raises and invests private support to advance the mission of its affiliated university. She will continue to work closely with Rick Shangraw, CEO of the parent organization to the ASU Foundation, ASU Enterprise Partners, and other distinct private nonprofit resource-raising companies formerly housed within it.

Buhlig brings two decades of donor cultivation and stewardship experience to the position, including close relationships built over her 15 years in leadership roles supporting ASU.

“Gretchen deeply understands the unique value of this university and how meaningful it is when a donor is able to connect with a student, researcher or program to support what he or she loves,” ASU President Michael M. Crow said. “We’re grateful for her leadership and for the contributions the ASU Foundation makes to the progress of Arizona State.”

Under the guidance of Shangraw and Buhlig, the ASU Foundation broke fundraising records for the past three years and expanded givers to include more than 100,000 individual, corporate and foundation donors.

In January 2017, they oversaw the launch of Campaign ASU 2020, ASU’s first comprehensive fundraising effort during Crow’s tenure. At the time of the campaign’s public unveiling, it had secured two-thirds of its goal to raise at least $1.5 billion by 2020.

Buhlig is credited with shaping the ASU Foundation’s 2025 Strategic Plan alongside representatives from across the development staff. She increased collaboration amongst deans and fundraising volunteers, and led growth of the ASU Foundation’s engagement programs, including President’s Club and Women & Philanthropy, which she helped found.

“Gretchen’s insight, warmth and deep commitment to increasing student access and excellence at ASU and across the community is evident in all she does,” said William Post, chairman of the ASU Foundation Board of Directors and former chairman and CEO of Pinnacle West Capital Corporation. “We are better for it. ASU is better for it. Phoenix is better for it. The influence of her work and the work of ASU’s generous donors goes far beyond that.”

“By building on years of work by our development staff and continuing the momentum of the newly launched Campaign ASU 2020, it is a more exciting time than ever to accelerate our efforts to foster a culture of philanthropy at the university,” Shangraw said.

Buhlig previously served as associate vice president of institutional advancement for A.T. Still University. She is a graduate of Augustana College and Walden University.

“It is my honor to lead an outstanding team of passionate fundraisers who are eager to connect with our supporters in the community,” Buhlig said. “In the spirit of the New American University, we are implementing new ideas from within an atmosphere of invention to create and sustain the resources that enable ASU’s research, teaching and learning. I look forward to building on our tremendous energy to continue strengthening that important work.”

Beth Giudicessi

480-727-7402