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Engineering a better future

phil fosterEver wonder what it would be like if you never have to fill up?

Or even plug in?

Phil Foster, associate professor and coordinator of mechanical engineering technology in the UNT College of Engineering, began thinking about that 10 years ago.

His thought led him to develop the first liquid-cooled Stirling engine with a segmented rotary displacer. Stirling engines draw power from converting heat energy rather than from fossil fuels or the power grid.

Foster’s engine is featured with several other “Engineering Solutions” in the 2014 edition of UNT Research magazine, which covers science, scholarship and the arts at UNT.


  • Yong Tao, distinguished research professor and chair of mechanical and energy engineering, is testing solar and wind power systems, energy-efficient windows, sustainable building materials and energy monitoring systems as director of the Zero Energy Laboratory.
  • Armin Mikler, professor of computer science and engineering, is working with other UNT and UNT Health Science Center researchers on the Response Plan Analyzer for emergency planners.
  • Yan Huang, associate professor of computer science and engineering, is developing a location-based search function for social media platforms that could prove helpful in disaster situations.
  • Narendra Dahotre, distinguished research professor of materials science and engineering — and newly named fellow of the National Academy of Inventors — has filed a patent on a new laser technology for cutting and shaping bone.
  • Gayatri Mehta, assistant professor of electrical engineering, is working with UNT researchers and others to develop lightweight conductive fabric with sensors that can determine if an athlete is experiencing cardiac issues during sports events.
  • Rodney Nielsen, associate professor of computer science and engineering, is developing a companion robot that aims to help senior citizens overcome depression.
  • Haifeng Zhang, assistant professor of engineering technology, is teaming up with industry professionals and Stony Brook University to create a new self-powered temperature and pressure sensor that can operate underground and withstand the stresses of oil and gas drilling.
  • Rajiv Mishra, professor of materials science and engineering, is working through the Center for Friction Stir Processing — part of a National Science Foundation-funded Industry/University Cooperative Research Center — to improve the performance of alloys.

Take a look at this year’s edition to find out how the UNT College of Engineering is earning a reputation as the College of Innovation and read about other work across disciplines that is helping UNT build its strength as a nationally prominent research university.

Also, learn about:

Posted on: Fri 25 April 2014

Owning Excellence

Faculty and staff members have roles in transforming UNT into a nationally prominent university. Share your ideas on how you can help UNT to own excellence, keep students on track and improve graduation education.

Mean Green Pride


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