His revolutionary innovations improve the lives of people with disabilities

The health, happiness, and productivity of those whose lives he has improved with his revolutionary assistive devices provide social inclusion in society

2022 IEEE Biomedical Engineering Award Recipient, Rory Cooper, serves as the Director of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories at the University of Pittsburgh and a senior career scientist with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA serves as an advocate for veterans and the disabled. After he suffered a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed, he began making modifications to the back brace doctors gave him and making better chairs.

His extensive contributions to wheelchair technology have expanded mobility and reduced secondary injuries for millions of people with disabilities. Cooper has used his experience and expertise to improve the lives of people with disabilities. His life-changing technologies include the SMARTWheel (SW), Variable Compliance Joystick with Compensation Algorithms (VCJ-CA), and Virtual Seating Coach (VSC). His inventions use biomechanics and ergonomics, as well as multisensor fusion, contextual awareness, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing to provide individually tailored coaching and data sharing with the clinical teams to help mitigate the risk for pressure injuries. Cooper has authored two books, “Rehabilitation Engineering Applied to Mobility and Manipulation” and “Wheelchair Selection and Configuration.” He has co-edited others including the award-winning book “Care of the Combat Amputee.”

Cooper earned B.S. (1985) and M.Eng. (1986) degrees in electrical engineering from California Polytechnic State University. In 1989, he earned a Ph.D. degree in electrical & computer engineering from the University of California at Santa Barbara.