SDSU is on cutting edge of tech

by Kevin Smead


With medical technology advancing so rapidly, it is easy to get caught up in the fantastical ideas of innovations such as the integration of machine with man. When looking at this through the lens of popular culture, images of the “Six Million Dollar Man” and “The Matrix” come to mind. And while these things are less implausible than they were 10 years ago, the current work of San Diego State mechanical engineering professor and 2011 Faculty Monty award recipient Dr. Kee Moon has the potential to revolutionize the scientific and medical communities, bringing these closer to seemingly distant futures.

In July, the National Science Foundation announced an $18.5 million grant, establishing an Engineering Research Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering at the University of Washington. Also included in this grant are two universities acting as research partners: the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and through the efforts of Moon here at SDSU.

The research conducted at SDSU as well as UW and MIT will be used to develop sensorimotors that are integrated into the human neural system for various medical purposes, such as advanced control for prosthetic limbs and a home-based system for aiding in serious injury rehabilitation. The ultimate goal for this project is to create a human brain and motion device interface in order to achieve a high level of control for those in need.

“This will help amputees not only walk, but run or even dance,” Moon said.

Moon is also a full-time professor in the College of Engineering and incorporates a unique blend of both theory and practice in his teaching. Recently, Moon developed a course structured as an engineering design competition that works in conjunction with local businesses to promote innovation both on campus and within San Diego industry as a whole.

In addition to this, Moon and his research team worked as an integral part in both creating inventions and obtaining patents in the field of organic light-emitting diode technology.

“This is essentially the world’s first true 3-D technology,” Moon said. “This technology is not only cheaper, but really flexible, which opens up a lot of new potential for its application.”

Also noteworthy is Moon’s coordination with the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Kyung Hee University in South Korea. Students from the university come to SDSU for an intensive four-week program that not only encompasses experiencing SDSU, but experiencing the San Diego area and its local industries as well.

When asked about being honored with one of this year’s Monty Awards, Moon expressed his gratitude, and specifically cited his honoring being because of his colleagues, Dr. Samuel Kassegne and Dr. Khaled Morsi, as well as his team of researchers.

In the future, Moon plans to continue his work with the Engineering Research Center as well as focus on teaching in the College of Engineering.