Duncan, Maguire honored with NUtech 2023 Innovator Awards

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Brittany Duncan (left) and Marc Maguire were honored with 2023 Innovator Awards at the annual NUtech Venures Innovator Celebration on Nov. 6.
Brittany Duncan (left) and Marc Maguire were honored with 2023 Innovator Awards at the annual NUtech Venures Innovator Celebration on Nov. 6.


College of Engineering faculty Brittany Duncan and Marc Maguire were recognized with Innovator Awards during the 2023 NUtech Ventures Innovator Celebration on Nov. 6.

The annual event recognizes University of Nebraska-Lincoln personnel and companies who are developing and commercializing cutting-edge research from Nebraska.

NUtech awarded its Emerging Innovator of the Year award to Brittany Duncan, the Ross McCollum Associate Professor in the School of Computing and co-director of the NIMBUS (Nebraska Intelligent MoBile Unmanned Systems) Lab, where she and her team study unmanned systems with a focus on aerial robotics. 

The Emerging Innovator Award recognizes an individual, often a junior faculty member, for recent innovation contributions.

In 2018, Duncan was awarded a nearly $550,000 NSF Early Faculty Career Award to continue studying foundational interactions between novice users and small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (sUAVs). Duncan’s long-term research goal is to advance the state-of-the-art in human-drone interaction so that sUAVs can comfortably and safely interact in proximity to a variety of people and communicate with them in a natural and efficient way across varying contexts.

Marc Maguire, associate professor in the Durham School of Architectural Engineering and Construction, was awarded the Breakthrough Innovation of the Year award, which recognizes a technology developed in the past year that will likely have a profound impact on industry, business or a field of study.

The award recognizes Maguire’s development of hemp-based composite masonry blocks that could radically change the construction industry. This plant-based mixture is environmentally friendly and sustainable, helps meet the world’s construction demands for building materials and offers an alternative crop for Nebraska’s farmers.

Maguire said the new mixture has the potential to radically change the construction industry because it's lighter than traditional Portland cement, but also meets the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) C90 standards for load-bearing masonry units for strength, water absorption and weight.

As the university’s technology commercialization affiliate, NUtech Ventures protects, markets and licenses the university’s intellectual property to improve quality of life and promote economic development. NUtech also promotes entrepreneurship through programming and sponsored events.

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