Jicheng Fu, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Central Oklahoma, received an Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology grant of $135,000 to conduct research in developing intelligent robotic assistance for young wheelchair users with severe motor impairments.

Fu’s research project will provide robotic assistance for young wheelchair users, age 2-5 years, with severe motor impairment. He will develop an intelligent shared control framework using state-of-the-art machine learning technology to achieve effective and safe wheelchair maneuverability.

“This project is aimed to shorten the learning period of wheelchair maneuvering and provide effective and safe maneuverability to young wheelchair users. The proposed intelligent robotic assistance will help improve the quality of life for young children with severe motor impairments and reduce the risk of secondary impairments,” said Fu.

The OCAST grant will be given to Fu over a three-year period. His research project was one of only 30 grants awarded among 154 applications.

Fu’s research not only helps young wheelchair users, but it also shows computer science students how to conduct research using the skills they have learned in their coursework. The project has given four students the opportunity to work as undergraduate research assistants.

“When I teach my software engineering course I use the problems I have encountered in my research as examples to illustrate how to apply software engineering principles to improve software design quality. Through this project, my students have deepened their understandings of scientific research and developed the invaluable experience regarding how to use computer science knowledge learned from classroom settings to solve real-world clinical problems.”

Fu earned his doctorate in computer science from the University of Texas at Dallas and joined the UCO faculty in 2009.