I am proud to announce that the publication of this issue of the HERL newsletter marks the third complete year of its’ circulation. When the first edition was released in Spring of 2002, we had about 500 readers. Now, over 1,400 people receive the HERL newsletter, and our distribution list is growing every day. We thank our many dedicated research participants and other newsletter readers for their interest, support, and contributions to this publication.

Our faculty and students have merited several notable awards and achievements since our last update. HERL director Rory Cooper was appointed by the University of Pittsburgh to be the first holder of the Federation of Independent School Alumnae Foundation Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) – Chair for Rehabilitation Engineering. Dr. Cooper’s appointment to this endowed Chair, one of the highest honors any university can bestow, is the result of a dynamic career in the field of rehabilitation engineering and assistive technology.

In October Dr. Cooper was invited by VA Central Office to participate in a White House/VA conference entitled, “Emerging Technologies in Support of the New Freedom Initiative: Promoting Opportunities for People with Disabilities.” The conference highlighted Federal support for disabilities, development in science and technology, and innovation leading to new products, businesses, and jobs. The conference also provided a forum for discussing ideas about support for future research and technology development.

This fall, Dr. Cooper accepted an invitation from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University to serve for a second two-year term as an Honorary Professor in their Jockey Club Rehabilitation Centre. He was also invited to be an adjunct professor of Xi’an Jiaotong University, China, for 4 years.

In the last newsletter we announced that HERL doctoral student Ian Rice would be competing in the Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece, September 17th -September 28, 2004. He competed in the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m wheelchair races, finishing fourth in the 100 meter race and sixth in the 200 meter race. He was the first American to finish. On Oct. 9th , Ian placed first in the Chicago marathon, beating the 2nd place finisher by 45 minutes. He also placed first in the Detroit marathon on October 24th.