Auburn Engineering researchers awarded funding to commercialize research

Published: Jun 19, 2017 9:00:00 AM
Media Contact: Chris Anthony,, 334.844.3447

Five Auburn Engineering researchers have been recognized for their ideas and projects that could impact the economy of the state and region. The Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development recently presented the researchers with funding from LAUNCH: The Fund for Research and Innovation to help move their research to the marketplace.

"Auburn is committed to providing a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem for our faculty, staff and students as a natural extension of our land-grant mission," said John Mason, vice president for research and economic development. "Every day, our experts put good ideas to work in innovative ways across a range of sectors."

Pictures of the LAUNCH funding recipients are shown.
Top (from left): Robert Ashurst and Virginia Davis.
Bottom (from left): David Beale, Roy Broughton and Austin Gurley

Researchers in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering receiving funding are:

  • Associate professor Robert Ashurst and Alumni Professor Virginia Davis, both from the Department of Chemical Engineering, who are commercially developing cellulose nanocrystal microelectromechanical systems, or MEMS, devices to deliver low cost, high sensitivity bio-sensing; and
  • Professor David Beale, professor emeritus Roy Broughton and doctoral candidate Austin Gurley, all in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, who are using shape memory alloy servo actuators to improve mobility in robots.

They will receive a cash stipend toward the commercialization of their research.

“Researchers in the College of Engineering are conducting pioneering research that goes beyond the theoretical; it has a tangible impact by improving our quality of life and fostering increased economic competitiveness,” said Christopher B. Roberts, dean of engineering. “Our enterprising faculty and students are a major reason why Auburn Engineering is a national leader in engineering education and research.”

LAUNCH is an endowed fund conceived by the Auburn University Research Advisory Board as a mechanism to bridge the gap between innovative research and the marketplace. The fund was created in 2015 with the support of the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development with the goal of creating an endowment of $10 million that will generate approximately $400,000 annually for research grants. Until the endowment is fully funded, the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development is funding the awards.

LAUNCH recipients have the opportunity to meet with experts in entrepreneurship from Auburn’s Raymond J. Harbert College of Business as well as members of the Office of Innovation Advancement and Commercialization to assist in developing plans and assembling resources to move scientific achievement into commercial success.

Teams of MBA students will be assigned to carry out market research for each recipient, providing for real-world learning experience. Researchers may also be partnered with Auburn alumni and friends with specific industry-related experience to advance the projects.

- Written by Leslie Parsons and Charles Martin. Chris Anthony contributed to this report.


LAUNCH Innovation Grants Program