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NSF grant allows professor to continue game research
This past summer, when a majority of teachers and students were taking a break from education and academics, one particular teacher was busy concocting a plan to revolutionize the world for the future.
Gayatri Mehta, an electrical engineering assistant professor, and her team of UNT students received a $499,924 grant from the National Science Foundation for continued research for their game Untangled.
The birth of Untangled came through a biochemistry game called Foldit, which is a protein folding game that gives users a 3D model of proteins to arrange and build structures. Untangled is a puzzle game where the player’s goal is to put the unraveled pieces together and make it visually appealing.
“It motivated me to create something to use human intuition,” Mehta said. “The purpose was to help us in discovering new, better algorithms and discover new architecture designs that can be employed in the next generation of electronics that would ultimately help us.”
This is the first time UNT has received a grant in design automation.
“It means a lot to the department, especially in such a short time,” said Shengli Fu, an electrical engineering associate professor. “We now have recognition for conducting research.”
Electrical engineering chair Murali Varanasi said receiving a grant from the National Science Foundation is very competitive.
“I’m very proud of her. It’s not easy to get money from National Science Foundation,” Varanasi said. “The work is very promising and it helps a lot of students get jobs.”
Anil Kumar Sistla, a master’s student, was one of the students that worked alongside Mehta on Untangled.
“I came to know about the project in class, she made announcements in the class,” Sistla said. “I went to her and asked if there was a way I can contribute to this project.”
Sistla and other team members were excited when they heard about the grant, which will allow them to continue researching technology specific to battery life for the game.
Since receiving the grant, Mehta has helped support students by giving them scholarships and stipends.
“It really helped us to continue this project,” Sistla said. “My friends were congratulating us and believing that this is a great opportunity for us to continue the work.”
Correction: A previous version of this article said Gayatri was an associate professor; she is, in fact, an assistant professor of electrical engineering.