Involving the Crowd in CU Engineering Research

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Two research teams in the College of Engineering and Applied Science are turning to a novel funding model to pioneer leading-edge technologies in energy and robotics and to engage the community in their work. 

Crowdfunding, or the practice of sourcing small contributions from a large number of people, usually via the Internet, is a popular means to fund projects and campaigns, everything from high tech start-ups to Internet television shows. 

Projects led by PhD student Chern-Hooi Lim of chemical and biological engineering and Assistant Professor Nikolaus Correll of computer science are among eight projects involved in CU-Boulder’s crowdfunding pilot, a 45-day campaign launched May 2.

Lim and fellow graduate students want to tackle pressing issues of global warming and energy shortage by using sunlight to convert carbon dioxide into a clean-burning liquid fuel. For them, the campaign is an alternative to competitive seed funding and a chance for people to directly support research about which they feel passionate.
> Learn more: CO2 to fuel project

Correll and his students want to expand the reach of their swarm robotics research to K-12 schools and even art museums. While an NSF grant funds their research, the team is looking to the community to help them mass produce the robots for teaching applications and interactive art installations. 
> Learn more: Swarm robots

"We’re excited to bring the community into our research in a meaningful way," says Correll. "This campaign gives the public ownership of the project and actually lets them steer what happens with our research."

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