Nurses + Engineers = Innovative, Improved Healthcare


UConn’s new Nursing and Engineering Innovation Center to blend nurses’ problem-solving abilities with technology experts.

The University of Connecticut (UConn) is combining nurses’ problem-solving, innovative nature with engineers’ technology expertise to create the Nursing and Engineering Innovation Center, one of the first of its kind in the nation.

Nurses’ understanding of patients and recognizing gaps in care provides a unique perspective to the use of technology and other innovative processes to offer appropriate care for each patient.

Combining that perspective with innovative engineers and their expertise in the latest technology will create ideas and inventions to improve patients’ lives, according to the university. Research, education, community engagement, and technology transfer are the four focal areas of the new center.

“Engineers are trained to solve problems and create solutions. They have the technical knowledge, skills, and abilities to actualize new technologies,” says Leila Daneshmandi, PhD, assistant professor in residence in Innovation and Entrepreneurship and director of the entrepreneurship Hub (eHub) in the School of Engineering.

“By partnering with nurses and healthcare professionals, who have deep contextual knowledge of on-site problems and needs, we can ensure that our innovations are user-centric and designed for unmet healthcare needs,” says Daneshmandi, who is co-directing the center with Tiffany Kelley, PhD, MBA, RN-BC, visiting professor and director of the School of Nursing’s Healthcare Innovation Online Graduate Certificate Program.

“The Nursing and Engineering Innovation Center is a natural progression of ongoing collaborations that have been ongoing for the last several years,” Kelley says. “We are excited to see how it will enhance our research and educational programs, help meet the demand for our graduates in the workforce and provide better care for patients. It is amazing what we can do with a little seed funding, enthusiasm, and determination.”  

Two phases

The first phase of the new center, expected to take two to three years, includes creation of joint educational programs for students and seed grants for collaborative research among faculty.

Phase two is creation of a shared state-of-the-art research and teaching facility that would further integrate established undergraduate- and graduate-level programs in the schools of nursing and engineering, as well as allow prototypes to be field-tested. This phase will require major university, state, federal, or donor investment.

“The School of Engineering has strong connections in healthcare, especially through our Biomedical Engineering Department operated with UConn Health,” says Kazem Kazerounian, the school’s dean. “With this new Innovation Center, however, we’re investing in patient-focused care at the hands of the talented nurse workforce.”

Carol Davis is the Nursing Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.


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