A Norwegian engineer behind research as diverse as bionic limbs, robotic submarines and an artificial organ as a potential cure for diabetes will be lecturing at the University of New Brunswick this week.

Dr. Øyvind Stavdahl, co-founder of the subsea robotics firm Eelume and an associate professor in engineering cybernetics at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), will be speaking at the university’s Fredericton campus on Tuesday, Oct. 24 and Saint John campus on Wednesday, Oct. 25.

In a lecture entitled “Diving Deeper, from Diabetes Treatments to Subsea Interventions,” he will discuss his wide-ranging research pursuits and, in the process, his enthusiasm for how engineering feats are changing society.

“When I was a graduate student, there are things that I was taught were impossible, and five years later someone did it – like connecting electronics to nerves without killing the nerves or damaging them in the long term,” says Dr. Stavdahl. “Now people are doing this routinely.”

“I have stopped saying that things are impossible,” he says. “If it is easier than putting the first man on the moon, it is obviously possible. It just might cost a lot of money and take more time. Only the laws of nature, only the features of reality, can limit what can be done.”

Dr. Stavdahl and fellow researchers are racing to develop an artificial pancreas for people with diabetes as a means to circumvent the disease. He’s also been among researchers to use accelerometers such as those employed in smartphones to detect the positioning of the devices in order to bolster the functioning of bionic limbs.

And he’s embarked on a quest to perfect a robotic eel for use in repairing oil wells deep under the ocean.

Dr. Stavdahl spent part of 2005 on sabbatical from NTNU to work with the team at UNB’s internationally renowned Institute of Biomedical Engineering.

In returning to UNB for these lectures, he intends to share his enthusiasm for mathematics and engineering as empowering for individuals and transformative for society.

“Research is all about one thing – making the ‘impossible’ possible.”

He will be delivering the Dineen Memorial Lecture at UNB. The Dineen Memorial Lectures focus on technology and its impact on society and began in 1980 to honour former engineering professor and UNB president James O. Dineen.

Tuesday’s lecture on the Fredericton campus begins at 7:30 p.m. in room C13, Dineen Auditorium, Head Hall, 15 Dineen Dr. Wednesday’s lecture on the Saint John campus begins at 7 p.m. in the Ganong Hall Lecture Theatre.

The public is welcome to attend. There is no admission fee.

Media contact: David Stonehouse

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