LAWRENCE — Connected World magazine has recognized University of Kansas Professor Gregory Thomas as a leader in Internet of Things (IoT) and machine to machine (M2M) computing by naming him to its list of 2017 Pioneer Award winners. He is the director of the Center for Design Research (CDR) and professor in the Department of Design.
Selected by the editorial staff of the magazine, the 10 winners are educators who have been leaders in scholarly research and development who take “the classroom to society.” The magazine cites their research as foundational for “key breakthroughs in IoT and M2M.”
Thomas founded the CDR in 2009 as a way of creating opportunities for students and faculty to work on industry-sponsored projects that would be aimed at developing imaginative yet practical solutions to complex problems. It emphasizes the use of design and technology to create innovative consumer goods and services.
One of Thomas’s projects that Connected World has recognized in the past is the WellCar. Now known as the CareCar, its purpose is to provide health care to rural Kansans. Thomas fitted a Ford Transit Connect van with equipment a nurse practitioner can use to perform medical tests on patients at their homes. M2M technology is then used to transmit test results to a clinic where doctors can evaluate them in real time. KU is now utilizing the CareCar.
“Thomas is truly a pioneer in the area of IoT-M2M technologies, and his inclusion in the 2017 Pioneers roster places him among the most innovative leaders in this area of scholarship,” said Dean Mahesh Daas. “We are proud to count him one of our most outstanding faculty members.”
Thomas began his design education at the Kansas City Art Institute, where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts. He earned Master of Fine Arts degrees from both the California Institute of the Arts and Yale University. He worked for IBM, CBS, the offices of Charles & Ray Eames and Saul Bass. For more than 25 years, Thomas was the owner and founding principal of Gregory Thomas Associates (GTA), a Los Angeles design firm specializing in brand strategy and corporate communications.
He joined KU as the chair of the design department in 2004. In 2012, he was the co-recipient of the first Research Impact Award given by the School of Architecture, Design & Planning, and in 2015 he was selected to be KU’s first IT Faculty Fellow.
Connected World focuses on business and technology issues related to IoT, and is based in Carol Stream, Ill. It has 300,000 magazine readers and 100,000 radio listeners. Other recipients of its 2017 Pioneers Award include Ted Herman, University of Iowa; Behrokh Khoshnevis, University of Southern California; Chandra Krintz, Univesity of California, Santa Barbara; Vivian Loftness, Carnegie Mellon University; Govind Rao, University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Carlo Ratti, SENSEable City Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Sanjay Sarma, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Sabine Seymour, The New School, and Joshua Smith, University of Washington.