MACON – Dr. Ha Van Vo, associate professor of biomedical engineering in Mercer University's School of Engineering, has been named the Southern Conference's inaugural Faculty Member of the Year, Commissioner John Iamarino announced Thursday.
Dr. Vo will be recognized at halftime of the title game of the Southern Conference Men's Basketball Championship, presented by General Shale, on March 9 in Asheville, North Carolina. He will also receive complimentary tournament tickets, lodging and hospitality, and a $4,000 stipend from the conference.
Dr. Vo, who is in his ninth year at Mercer, holds engineering and medical degrees and has dedicated his career to improving the lives of amputees due to his personal experience with those in his home country of Vietnam who lost limbs as a result of leftover ordnance from the Vietnam War.
Dr. Vo and his team of students have developed the Universal Socket Prosthetic, a prosthetic leg that is affordable, easily fitted and extremely durable. It can currently be manufactured at a cost of $200, compared to other prosthetics that cost as much as $10,000.
In 2009, as part of the University's Mercer On Mission service-learning and study abroad initiative, Dr. Vo led a team to Vietnam to set up a prosthetic clinic. He has returned once – and sometimes twice – each year to fit amputees with his prosthetic. During the most recent trip in 2014, 465 amputees were fitted over 16 days.
In 2010, Dr. Vo also led a team to Haiti, where a clinic was set up to fit victims of the devastating earthquake that killed at least 230,000 people and injured another 300,000.
All told, Dr. Vo has trained more than 100 students representing a variety of academic disciplines, and his teams have fitted more than 3,000 prosthetics.
The Mercer On Mission prosthetics project has been recognized by former President Bill Clinton through the Clinton Global Initiative, the Military Order of the World Wars, and governmental officials in Vietnam.
Next month, Dr. Vo, Mercer Dean of Chapel and University Minister Craig McMahan, who oversees Mercer On Mission, and Chris R. Sheridan, president of Macon-based Chris R. Sheridan & Co. General Contractors and a generous donor to the prosthetics project, will visit the president of Vietnam to discuss plans for expansion of their efforts.
The Southern Conference Faculty Member of the Year award recognizes faculty who have made a significant impact on the lives of students at Southern Conference institutions.
The chief academic officers of each of the conference's 10 member institutions submitted nominations for the award. Southern Conference faculty athletics representatives cast votes for the nominees based on several criteria, including demonstrated service to the institution, proven record of high scholastic achievement among students, recognition for a research project or written academic piece, and contributions to campus life and the local community.
For more information on the Southern Conference, visit www.SoConSports.com.
About the School of Engineering
Mercer University's School of Engineering, founded in 1985, offers innovative and academically challenging programs that provide students with a comprehensive education, featuring a solid foundation in mathematics and sciences, a core engineering curriculum, a range of courses in engineering specialties and a strong emphasis on communication technologies. The School is consistently ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of the top three master's-degree-level engineering schools in the Southeast. Known for its breadth of instruction in its undergraduate program and its five-year joint bachelor's and master's degree program, the School combines technical education with hands-on laboratory experience. Mercer engineers can look forward to joining fellow alumni in companies such as Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex, Lockheed Martin, Georgia Power, Siemens and Gulfstream Aerospace.