Engineering team awarded NSERC funding to help older adults improve mobility

McMaster professor Rong Zheng and a team of researchers at McMaster, the University of Manitoba and the University of Windsor have been awarded $1.65M in funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC) CREATE Program.

The program supports mentorship and training for Canadian researchers in areas such as communication, collaboration and professional skills, providing experience relevant to both academic and non-academic research environments.

Zheng’s research focuses on developing smart technology to effectively monitor and analyze human activities. The goal of the program is to use these technologies to improve mobility in older adults in both community and health care-based settings.

“There’s a two-way relationship between mobility and overall health, and every one of us will experience some degree of mobility decline as we age or face different health conditions,” says Zheng, a professor in the department of computing and software in the Faculty of Engineering.

She is also a member of the McMaster Institute of Research on Aging (MIRA), McMaster Computing Infrastructure Research Centre, McMaster School of Computational Science and Engineering and the MacData Institute.

Through the CREATE Program, Zheng says she looks forward to expanding the team’s network of collaborators from across universities and disciplines in Canada and internationally.

“This program is helping to bridge gaps in traditional engineering graduate curricula by incorporating problem-based learning and user-centric design to address societal challenges,” she adds. “We not only want to live longer, but we want to live better.”

The team’s research efforts will focus on three areas: low-power wearable and ambient sensing devices, algorithms and machine learning models for complex data, and prescriptive interventions to improve mobility.

“We’re grateful for NSERC’s support, and also the generous contributions from McMaster’s Faculty of Engineering and Health Sciences, the School of Graduate Studies and MIRA,” says Zheng.


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