The Department of Life Sciences Engineering brings together expertise in the fields of medical engineering, biomedical computer sciences, biomechanics, rehabilitation engineering, sports equipment engineering and ergonomics, cell-culture methods and biomaterials, (environmental and biological) chemistry as well as ecotoxicology and environmental management.
Head of Department
Ecotoxicology has established itself over the last two decades internationally as an independent science that combines chemical, toxicological and ecological approaches to assess the risks posed by chemicals found in living environments. Standardized testing procedures (e.g. OECD guidelines) are used to test the effects of substances on the environment and ultimately on humans. The testing systems established at UAS Technikum Wien comprise terrestrial and aquatic model organisms of various trophic levels, starting with bacteria as decomposers, algae as producers, daphnia as primary consumers and fish as secondary consumers. In-vitro methods of testing are also available that permit the investigation of toxicity mechanisms at cell-biological-molecular levels.
Rehabilitation engineering: Motion/Gait analysis, prosthetics & orthotics: Detection, analysis and support of human beings in motion
Rehabilitation engineering focuses on the treatment of patients with optional support using aids. The emphasis is placed on the analysis of movement. Core topics include prosthetics for technical limb replacement and orthotics for the restoration of restricted functions.
Augmentative and alternative communications (AAC): Supporting people with special needs in communication
The aim of supported communication is to facilitate participation in everyday life for people with disabilities. This is achieved with the help of exogenous and endogenous means of communication, e.g. software applications and sign language as well as symbol boards. This field of research is primarily concerned with applications in the area of rehabilitation.
Technologies in medical imaging: Imaging technologies for medical diagnostics and treatment
As a prerequisite for diagnostics and many methods of treatment, medical imaging is an important aspect of medical engineering. The emphasis is on sonography and other imaging procedures, e.g. computer tomography.
Optical applications in biomedical engineering: Simulation, modeling and analysis of optical methods for biomedical engineering applications and systems
Technical optics constitute a core component within many biomedical applications, e.g. ophthalmology and optical imaging systems. The development of optical systems as well as the experimental characterization of ophthalmological implants such as intraocular lenses constitute core competencies in this field of research.
Simulation and analysis of the cardio-pulmonary system: Simulation and analysis of the cardio-pulmonary system
This field of research is concerned with the physiologically and anatomically realistic modeling of the human respiratory system and its interaction with the cardiovascular system. The research topics that it covers include electro-mechanical lung simulation, aerosol generation and measurement, mechanical ventilation and ex-vivo lung perfusion. Rapid prototyping approaches and CFD methods are also used to advance simulations and analyses in areas relating to these essential systems.
Interoperable applications: Interoperability for applications
Common communication bases are essential to dealing with the vast number of computer-based systems and the huge amounts of information that are exchanged between systems. Systems must meet minimum demands on the structure and vocabulary used to make the exchange of information between them possible and to allow this information to be utilized.
Interoperable systems: Interoperability for systems
Medical devices and systems have emerged over recent decades, mostly as isolated ‘information islands’. Much of the available data is not shared between healthcare providers, which, as a consequence, limits these systems’ usefulness. New requirements, architectures, methods and processes have become available today to define, design, build and operate integrated systems that generate added value for patients from the available data. The risks posed by misdirected, insufficient or incorrect information must at the same time be monitored and the security of sensitive data must be ensured.
Muscle and electrostimulation: Cellular level
The field of research that focuses on electrical cell stimulation is concerned with the simulation and development of stimulation devices for muscle cells for the purposes of affecting cell migration and cell proliferation. Stimulator prototypes to influence intracellular environments by generating electric fields that affect cell differentiation.
Applied virtual and augmented reality in medical and healthcare processes: Applied virtual and augmented reality in medical and healthcare processes, including organizational and engineering aspects
Medical and health-related processes are becoming increasingly complex – as are the associated technical processes of planning and servicing. This field of research is consequently concerned with the virtualization of these processes using both virtual and augmented reality, and is being tackled in cooperation with the Department of Computer Sciences at UAS Technikum Wien.
Work in the ‘Sports Engineering, Biomechanics and Ergonomics’ competence center is concerned with the application of technical and scientific knowledge to the development of sports equipment and the investigation into how the human body moves and works.
This competence center is tackling two different tasks within the organizational structure of UAS Technikum Wien. One is the coordination and handling by the competence center of research and commissioned projects in areas related to the three subject areas mentioned in the heading. The other is the significant contribution to the fulfillment of the university’s educational mission by developing, coordinating and holding relevant teaching events. Within this context, the ‘Sports Engineering, Biomechanics and Ergonomics’ competence center provides both personnel and technical know-how as well as infrastructure at the current state of the art.
Where the provision of appropriate teaching is concerned, this competence center mainly serves the following courses: Human Factors and Sports Engineering (Bachelor’s program), Biomedical Engineering (Bachelor’s program), Sports Technology (Master’s program) and Health and Rehabilitation Engineering (Master’s program).
Sports engineering is a relatively young academic discipline that aims to apply such technical sciences as mechanics, physics, materials science, electrical engineering and computer sciences to the development of sports equipment and the study of movement in sport.
It clearly distinguishes itself from the classic discipline of sports sciences in spite of overlapping in some areas. While the sports sciences concentrate mainly on internal processes within the human body in sports, the field of sports engineering is mainly concerned with external effects and the interaction between athlete, sports equipment and the respective environment.
The project and research activities carried out within this competence center span both elite and popular sports.
The ‘Sports Engineering, Biomechanics and Ergonomics’ competence center is closely associated with the International Sports Engineering Association (ISEA), which is the global association for sports engineering.
It has been providing committee members to the ISEA for many years and is primarily responsible for the work carried out by the ‘Education’ sub-committee. Members of this competence center regularly and actively take part in scientific conferences and other events staged by the ISEA as well as by other related associations and act as reviewers for relevant journals, e.g. the Journal of Sports Engineering.
In conjunction with other European universities/universities of applied sciences and representatives from industry, the competence center is also part of the Alliance for Sports Engineering Education, an Erasmus+-funded project for the targeted networking of stakeholders in this field.
One main focus of the discipline of sports engineering at UAS Technikum Wien is the testing of sports equipment with the aid of metrology. A variety of methods and setups have over the years been developed within the framework of student and research projects to test the functioning of sports equipment and components thereof both in the field and under laboratory conditions. These are mostly test tables and test benches which have been designed to allow the mechanical properties of a wide variety of sports equipment and its components to be tested (non-destructively). Test tables are, on the one hand, good for carrying out tests that are close to being compliant with standards but also, on the other, for the repeated application of loads that are as realistic as possible to sports equipment. It must always be borne in mind, however, that the results obtained by this method are only able to provide an approximate impression of what actually happens in the field when the sports equipment in question is used. That is why the test tables are usually combined with measurements that are taken under actual conditions. Sports equipment previously equipped with sensor technology (e.g. strain gauges, acceleration sensors, etc.), for example, is submitted to initial tests on a test table, calibrated there and the results subsequently compared with those measured in the field. The resulting differences are then further utilized in the continuous development and improvement of both the test tables and the sports equipment. Within this competence center, it is ensured during the development of such test systems or test tables that they are realized as modular systems with aluminum profiles and electronic components. This permits a certain level of flexibility in the application and processing of specific tasks.
This competence center currently has at its disposal:
- Two test benches for bending, torsion and compression tests (universally deployable, quasi-static)
- Two impact test benches
- Three dynamic test benches specifically for bicycle components (braking systems, tires, chains and suspension forks)
- A pneumatic test bench for investigating the flexing behavior of ski and snowboard boots
Biomechanics represents an interdisciplinary field that is dedicated to the task of describing, capturing and analyzing the motion sequences of biological systems on the basis of the principles of physics and especially mechanics. It is possible to analyze bodies in motion by observing the existing forces or simply the positional changes in space and time.
It is possible, for example, to investigate a variety of factors by analyzing such a supposedly simple exercise as a handstand. It would initially perhaps be interesting to know in which position the body is being held for a certain period of time and which forces are acting on the entire body or specific areas (mostly joints) over that period of time. It would subsequently also be possible to analyze the effect of the position being held on such materials as bone and cartilage, and to investigate the blood supply to certain structures.
That is why biomechanics as a whole is a very broad subject.
Biomechanics within the ‘Sports Engineering, Biomechanics and Ergonomics’ competence center revolves primarily but not exclusively around the analysis of motion sequences of the human body. Such investigations are carried out in the field of rehabilitation engineering as well as in the field of occupational science and ergonomics. A sub-discipline that is particularly strong in this competence center is that of sports biomechanics, which focuses on the analysis of sequences of movement in sports with and without interaction between people and sports equipment.
Besides theoretical principles and calculations, the instrumented motion analysis, in a way, represents a comprehensive collection of analysis methods in the field of biomechanics. The ‘Sports Engineering, Biomechanics and Ergonomics’ competence center is able to draw on a number of such measuring methods, e.g. two three-dimensional force plates by AMTI, which have been integrated into a double floor and are used for analyses of gaits, running, jumping and balancing. Two plantar pressure-measuring systems (a Zebris plate and a Medilogic sole system) are also available. This competence center also has several surface electromyography systems at its disposal for capturing muscular activity during a variety of movements. Besides such sensor-based motion-capture systems as the Xsens system, various two- and three-dimensional video-analysis systems are used, which still represent a gold standard in the field of kinematic motion analysis. But the research activities within this competence center do not only focus on the application and utilization of commercially available systems, they also revolve around the functional analysis and development of individual metrology systems.
All measuring methods are used in the laboratory and in the field, both individually and in combination, in order to cover the widest possible range of issues to be addressed.
Another special field of application for biomechanics which is a focus of attention at UAS Technikum Wien is so-called balance assessment. The aim here is to examine the postural stability of individuals and, based on this, to draw conclusions about possible pathologies, courses of treatment and potential for structuring training and improving performances. The ‘Sports Engineering, Biomechanics and Ergonomics’ competence center, on the one hand, operates as a user of already established posturography systems while, on the other, it has been intensively involved in researching and developing new methods and products for many years.
Ergonomics is an interdisciplinary science, which due to the origin of the term (ancient Greek ergon = work, nomos = law) is often simply referred to as occupational science in the western world. Ergonomics was originally concerned with the laws governing the design of work and working conditions in relation to the human form. The approach taken was not to adapt people to work but rather to adapt the circumstances of work to people and their needs in the best possible way.
The term human factors has also developed and established itself in English-speaking countries as a synonym for ergonomics. It is apparent here that the classic field of ergonomics has expanded over the years to the extent that this term is now understood to mean the general design of products, processes and environmental conditions that have been adapted to humans – even beyond the pure context of work. Therefore ergonomics generally focuses on human well-being in conjunction with the goal of optimizing the performance of the entire system that consists of humans, machines and the environment.
The profound know-how in the two areas described above means that the ‘Sports Engineering, Biomechanics and Ergonomics’ competence center concentrates specifically on the physical aspects of ergonomics. Consequently, the knowledge that has been built up in ergonomics over many years is brought to bear primarily in the analysis, development and optimization of products and activities in the sense of human-centered design.
Project activities within the competence center
This competence center is continuously carrying out research and development within the framework of student projects and funded projects as well as projects commissioned by industry.
Products from the sporting-goods industry are regularly provided to the merciless researchers to carry out their analysis and further development work.
This competence center is often contacted to carry out validation measurements with the new integrated measuring technology on shoes and clothing on the basis of different reference systems for the purposes of developing innovative sensor technology for wearables.
Objective comparative tests have been carried out for several years now on various bicycle braking systems on behalf of Motor Presse Stuttgart GmbH&Co. KG and the results published in the magazines ROADBIKE and MOUNTAINBIKE.
Several successful projects have already been carried out in the field of elite sport for associations, clubs and individual athletes. The effects of certain adjustments to a hand bike, for example, on the muscular performance of a top athlete were investigated and analyzed to determine if any changes to the existing setup would potentially help improve performance. The competence center has for a long time now been supporting a player of wheelchair tennis both in the further development of the material and in the accompanying optimization of his motion sequences. Investigations were also carried out for the Austrian Archery Association to determine muscular activation and acceleration in the bow and drawing arms in combination with plantar pressure distribution and stance. Etc.
A young company in Austria is assisting the competence center in its teaching activities through student projects but also within the scope of commissioned research work into the development of a new type of office chair.
Other projects include cooperation with a foosball club on an instrumented foosball table that will allow the game to be automatically captured and analyzed while displaying the scores.
This excerpt of project activities reveals how varied and multi-faceted the ‘Sports Engineering, Biomechanics and Ergonomics’ competence center at UAS Technikum Wien is.
Entirely in line with the principle of ‘nothing’s impossible’.
The competency field supports the bachelor and master programs in the conception, staffing and quality management of all courses in the field of Cell Technologies & Biomaterials.
- Bachelor Biomedical Engineering
- Bachelor Human Factors and Sports Engineering
- Master Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine
- Master Environmental Management and Ecotoxicology
Our objective is to provide students with a competency-based, application-oriented, and science-based education. In doing so, we want to give them the basic tools they need to join a company or research institution or to continue their studies with a dissertation. To achieve this goal, we strive for scientifically sound, didactically innovative (e.g. problem-based learning, e-learning, etc.) and, above all, practice-oriented university teaching. Research and development make up a significant part of the activities of the competence field; current research questions and results from the research field "Tissue Engineering and Molecular Life Science Technologies" flow directly into teaching.
The use of cells in molecular biotechnology represents a sustainable alternative to animal experiments. Applications range from the development of disease models to the optimization of drug and biophysical therapeutic approaches. Molecular biology methods enable detailed analyses of the structure and function of cell components, and in disease models genes can be modified with pinpoint accuracy using the CRISPR/Cas method.
Our special focus is on the use of modern cell technologies for the development of regenerative therapies and tissue engineering - with the aim of producing or replacing human tissue destroyed by injury or disease as a model. For this purpose, new tissue is grown from (stem) cells. A decisive role is played by biomaterials, synthetic materials or materials of biological origin, which come into contact with the cells and bring them into a three-dimensional arrangement adapted to the natural model. Reproducible production of artificial tissues is made possible by the development and optimization of bioreactors, computer-assisted devices that provide a controlled environment for tissue engineering.
- Tissue Engineering
- Biomaterials as bioactive scaffolds
- Computer-controlled bioreactors for tissue maturation
- Analysis and optimization of extracorporeal shock wave therapy
- Molecular and tumor biology
- Cell culture techniques
- Genomic Engineering