Making an Impact: College of Engineering Spotlights Reinbolt, Tomsovic

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Through teaching, research, and service, our faculty are making an impact on student lives, on our community, and on the world. Here’s a look at two College of Engineering faculty members who are training the next generation of engineers and doing research to improve health care and the nation’s power grid.

Jeff Reinbolt

Jeff-ReinboltWhen someone suffers a stroke or has a disease such as cerebral palsy, osteoarthritis, or Parkinson’s disease, crucial links are altered in a different way for every person. This makes pinpointing a patient’s care a challenging exercise in trial and error.

Jeff Reinbolt, an assistant professor in biomedical engineering, seeks to change this by better understanding how people and animals move. With funding from the National Science Foundation’s prestigious Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award, he uses experimental and computational approaches to improve human mobility.

“The long-term goal of my research is to provide a scientific basis for planning, evaluating, and improving treatment and rehabilitation of movement abnormalities,” said Reinbolt. “Because not much is known about how impairments relate to movement limitations, there is a great opportunity to improve our treatments.”

His work has already made an impact on health care. While doing research at a medical device company, Reinbolt helped advance robotic applications to perform minimally invasive heart surgery. As a doctoral student at the University of Florida, he created a new computational approach to predict post-treatment outcomes.

This expertise, along with his passion for teaching, has influenced countless students.

“Teachers do more than share knowledge on a subject. They also impact the views and understandings of their students, which molds the future by helping students become more interested in a subject and helping them learn about themselves,” Reinbolt said.

Taylor Schlotman, a graduate student in biomedical engineering, calls Reinbolt the most influential teacher she has had.

“He is easily approachable, partly because he always seems to be in a good mood, making him a go-to person for any questions you have about any topic—whether it be class related, homework, research, or trying to navigate your future to achieve your goals,” she said. ”In the classroom, he lays out difficult topics in a way that makes even the most complicated problems seem easy. Outside the classroom, he is an incredible motivator. He helps you to see your own potential and see things you never saw in yourself, something that makes him a truly invaluable asset to this university.”

College of Engineering Dean Wayne Davis said Reinbolt “has a big impact on students, both in the classroom and in the research lab, contributing to the college’s mission of providing high-quality education from the undergraduate through doctoral levels.”

Kevin Tomsovic

Kevin-TomsovicIn 2003, 45 million Americans were in the dark—many for days. Unfortunately, major blackouts are not rare in the United States and, due to a chronically overstretched electrical grid, they are becoming even more likely.

Kevin Tomsovic, the CTI Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and director of research institute CURENT, is trying to stem blackouts by helping to overhaul our nation’s power grid.

At CURENT, a prestigious and first-of-its-kind National Science Foundation engineering research center, Tomsovic is directing innovations that will lead to a global shift away from fossil fuels by facilitating higher levels of renewable energy resources within electric grids. To consumers, this means greener, more sustainable, and more reliable power.

“Synchronized measurements, large-scale computer simulations, and new control methods give us the technologies we need to achieve a resilient transmission network on a continental scale,” Tomsovic said.

Benyamin Moradzadeh, a graduate student in electrical engineering, said Tomsovic is providing engineering students unique opportunities to conduct research in the power engineering society.

“His immense knowledge along with his patience and inspiration has significantly helped many students, including me, to obtain a bright view on their career and climb the ladder of success,” Moradzadeh said.

Tomsovic—a former department head and an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers fellow—says he enjoys watching his students gain confidence and figure out their own solutions.

“I particularly like to give suggestions for possible approaches and then watch as students work it out in their own way,” he said.

C O N T A C T :

Whitney Heins (865-974-5460, wheins@utk.edu)

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