Director chosen for new Health Care Engineering Systems Center


Thenkurussi (Kesh) Kesavadas has been chosen as the first director of the new Health Care Engineering Systems Center (HCES Center) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The HCES Center provides clinical immersion to engineers and fosters collaborations between engineers and physicians.

“Through the HCES Center, the College of Engineering has partnered with the Jump Simulation and Education Center (Jump) of the OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, Ill., in an exciting initiative, known as Applied Research for Community Health through Engineering and Simulation (Jump ARCHES),” explained Andreas Cangellaris, dean of Engineering at Illinois. “The aim is to develop new technologies and cyber-physical systems, to advance medical simulation and training, and to drive a transformation in the practice and quality of health care, in the future.

Thenkurussi (Kesh) Kesavadas
Thenkurussi (Kesh) Kesavadas
“Professor Kesavadas is an accomplished researcher, educator, and entrepreneur with significant experience and insight into these emerging areas,” Cangellaris added. Before coming to Illinois, Kesavadas was a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University at Buffalo (NY), where founded the Buffalo Virtual Reality Laboratory. His own research interests are in the areas of medical robotics and simulation, virtual reality in design, and haptics (any form of nonverbal communication involving touch) and human-computer interaction.

As HCES Center director, Kesavadas will lead the development of the new Center and its research program. He also serves as “Engineer in Chief” of the Jump ARCHES collaborative partnership between the College of Engineering at Illinois and health care providers at OSF HealthCare and at the University of Illinois’ College of Medicine at Peoria.

Announced last spring, Jump ARCHES brings together clinicians and multi-disciplinary engineering faculty to innovate technologies such as sensor, imaging, visualization, simulation, data science, materials, control, and all technologies relevant to the advancement of clinical simulation, medical training and patient care. Jump ARCHES is the result of a $25-million dollar challenge gift from Jump Trading, a financial technology firm, that is being matched by the OSF Healthcare Foundation to create an $50-million endowment fund. The University of Illinois provides annual support of the Center’s operations.

The ultimate goal, according to Cangellaris, is “to position Illinois as a premier academic center for the advancement of new technologies and cyber-physical systems that will define the future of medical simulation, education and training, and contribute to the transformation of health-care delivery.”

In addition to his role at the HCES Center, Kesavadas has a faculty appointment as a professor in the Department of Industrial and Enterprise Systems Engineering at Illinois. Kesavadas earned his PhD in industrial engineering from the Pennsylvania State University in 1995, and he is co-founder of Simulated Surgical Systems LLC (2009) which launched world’s first comprehensive virtual reality robotic surgery simulator to train surgeons to operate the da Vinci™ surgical robot.