(UPDATE): The Gould Lecture has been postponed to fall of next year due to concerns over the increase of Covid-19 cases in Utah. This year’s keynote speaker, assistant professor Tommaso Lenzi, was given the option to either give his presentation virtually or to wait until next year to deliver it in person. Since his talk involves active demonstrations and engaging with the audience that is not possible over a virtual presentation, Lenzi has asked that it be postponed until next year.


(ORIGINAL STORY): University of Utah mechanical engineering assistant professor Tommaso Lenzi, who is developing a bionic leg that enables an amputee to control a powered prosthesis, will be the featured speaker for the 2021 William R. and Erlyn J. Gould Distinguished Lecture on Technology and the Quality of Life.

The lecture will be held Wednesday, Sept. 22, at 1:15 p.m., in the Gould Auditorium, level 1, of the University of Utah Marriott Library. The event will also be streamed live at www.lib.utah.edu./live.

Lenzi, who leads the Bionic Engineering Lab, will talk about novel electromechanical designs that will empower next-generation bionic limbs to match the strength and speed of biological legs. He will demonstrate the development of the Utah Bionic Leg, which uses intelligent control systems to enable individuals with amputation to perform activities that are impossible with conventional prostheses. Lenzi will also discuss critical challenges and areas of future research that must advance for bionics to become a part of our lives.

The Utah Bionic Leg is a computerized and motorized prosthetic for leg amputees that is powered and can help users walk with ease. The leg uses custom-designed force and torque sensors as well as accelerometers and gyroscopes to help determine the leg’s position in space. Those sensors are connected to an onboard computer processor that interprets the signals to determine the user’s intended movements. Based on that real-time data, the computer then controls the motors in the prosthetic joints to assist the user with the intended activity.

Lenzi completed his bachelor’s and master’s in biomedical engineering at the University of Pisa in Italy and a doctorate in biorobotics at Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, also in Italy. He joined the U in 2016 as an assistant professor.

The William R. and Erlyn J. Gould Distinguished Lecture on Technology and the Quality of Life was inaugurated October 7, 1992, at the University of Utah Marriott Library.

In establishing the lecture series, Bill and Erlyn Gould both recognized the critical need for continuing public education about issues regarding modern technology and its impact on our daily lives. The lecture series is intended to provide a forum for the discussion of problems, issues, experiences, and successful case histories of the regeneration and preservation of our communities through the application of modern technology.

Past speakers in the series have included U mechanical engineering professor Kam Leang and Gretchen McClain, NASA’s former chief director of the International Space Station program and U mechanical engineering alumna.