- FISA & Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) Chair and Distinguished Professor, Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology, University of Pittsburgh
- VA Career Scientist and Director, Human Engineering Research Laboratories www.herlpitt.org (HERL), VA Center of Excellence in Wheelchairs and Associated Rehabilitation Engineering
- Professor (Secondary Appointment), Departments of Bioengineering, Mechanical Engineering, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Pittsburgh
- PhD, Electrical and Computer Engineering (Biomedical Engineering, and Signals & Systems), University of California, Santa Barbara, 1989
- MS, Electrical Engineering (Computer Control Systems), California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, 1986
- BS, Electrical Engineering (Signals and Systems), California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, 1985
- Rehabilitation engineering
- Robotics and intelligent systems
- Quality of Life Technology
- Wheelchairs and Assistive Devices
- Souza A, Kelleher A, Cooper R, Cooper RA, Iezzoni LI, Collins DM, Multiple Sclerosis and Mobility-Related Assistive Technology: A Systematic Review of the Literature, Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, Vol. 47, No. 3, pp. 213-224, 2010.
- Koontz AM, Brindle ED, Kankipati P, Feathers D, Cooper RA, Design Features that Impact the Maneuverability of Wheelchairs and Scooters, Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Vol. 91, No. 5, pp. 759-764, 2010.
- Pyo J, Pasquina PF, DeMarco M, Wallach R, Teodorski E, Cooper RA, Upper Limb Nerve Entrapment Syndromes in Veterans with Lower Limb Amputations, PM&R Journal, Vol. 2, No. pp. 14-22, 2010.
- Ding D, Liu HY, Cooper RM, Cooper RA, Smailagic A, Siewiorek D, Virtual Coach Technology for Supporting Self-Care, Clinics in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Vol. 21, No. 1, pp. , 2010.
- Gagnon D, Koontz AM, Brindle E, Boninger ML, Cooper RA, Does Upper Limb Muscular Demand Differ Between Preferred and Non-Preferred Sitting Pivot Transfer Directions in Individuals With Spinal Cord Injury?, Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, Vol. 46, No. 9, pp. 1099-1108, 2009.
- Yang Y, Koontz AM, Triolo R, Cooper RA, Boninger ML, Biomechanical Analysis of Functional Electrical Stimulation on Trunk Musculature During Wheelchair Propulsion, Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair, pp. 717-725, Vol. 23, No. 7, September 2009.
- Wang H, Salatin B, Grindle GG, Ding D, Cooper RA, Real-Time Model-Based Electric Powered Wheelchair Control, Medical Engineering and Physics, Vol. 31, No. 10, pp. 1244-1254, December, 2009.
- Karmarkar AM, Collins DM, Wichman T, Franklin A, Fitzgerald SG, Dicianno BE, Pasquina PF, Cooper RA, Prostheses and Wheelchairs Use in Veterans with Lower Limb Amputation (LLA), Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, Vol. 46, No.5, pp. 567-576, 2009.
- Cooper RA, SMARTWheel: From Concept to Clinical Practice, Prosthetics and Orthotics International, Vol. 33, No. 3, pp, 198-209, 2009.
- Cooper RA, Wheeled Mobility and Manipulation Technologies, The Bridge, Vol. 39, No. 1, pp. 13-20, 2009.
Courses Recently Taught
- HRS 3708 Integrated Controls
- HRS 2709 Wheelchairs I
- HRS 1704 Rehabilitation Manufacturing and Materials
Rory A. Cooper, Ph.D. received the B.S. and M.Eng degrees in electrical engineering from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo in 1985 and 1986, respectively. He received the Ph.D. degree in electrical and computer engineering with a concentration in bioengineering from University of California at Santa Barbara in 1989. He is FISA & Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) Chair and Distinguished Professor of the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology, and professor of Bioengineering, Mechanical Engineering, Physical Medicine & Rehab, and Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Cooper is Founding Director and VA Senior Research Career Scientist of the VA Rehabilitation Research and Development Center of Excellence in Pittsburgh. He is also the Co-Director of the NSF Quality of Life Technology Engineering Research Center, a joint effort between the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University.
He is the Editor of the journal Assistive Technology and the AT Research Book Series of IOS Press. Dr. Cooper serves or has served on the editorial boards of several prominent peer-reviewed journals in the fields of rehabilitation and bioengineering. He has received multiple prestigious awards to include the Boy Scouts of America Community Cornerstone Award, Olin Teague Award, Paul Magnuson Award, U.S. Army Outstanding Civilian Service Medal, James Peters Award, Maxwell J. Schleifer Award, DaVinci Lifetime Achievement Award, Veteran’s Leadership Program Veteran of the Year, and a member of the inaugural class of the Spinal Cord Injury Hall of Fame. Dr. Cooper has authored or co-authored over 225 peer-reviewed journal publications. He has ten patents awarded or pending. Dr. Cooper is the author of two books: "Rehabilitation Engineering Applied to Mobility and Manipulation” and “Wheelchair Selection and Configuration”, and co-editor of “An Introduction to Rehabilitation Engineering” and “Care of the Combat Amputee”. Dr. Cooper is an elected Fellow of the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), and the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES). Dr. Cooper has been an invited lecturer at many institutions around the world, for example the National Academies of Sciences Distinctive Voices Lecture, and was awarded Honorary Professor at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Xi’an Jiatong University. He has also been elected to Eta Kappa Nu, Tau Beta Pi, and Sigma Xi honorary societies.
Dr. Cooper is a former President of RESNA, and a member of the RESNA/ANSI and ISO Wheelchair Standards Committees, and IEEE-EMBS Medical Device Standards Committee. In 1988, he was a bronze medalist in the Paralympic Games, Seoul, Republic of Korea. He was on the steering committee for the 1996 Paralympic Scientific Congress held in Atlanta, GA, and the Sports Scientist for the 2008 U.S. Paralympic Team in Beijing, China. In 2009, Dr. Cooper was featured on a Cheerios cereal box for his many achievements. He has been a member of the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services – Medicare Advisory Committee, Steering Committee of the Academy of PM&R on Research Capacity Building. and Chair of the National Advisory Board on Medical Rehabilitation Research, National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, and National Academy of Sciences Keck Foundation Initiative on Human Health Span Steering Committee. Dr. Cooper is a U.S. Army veteran with a spinal cord injury and a Director of the Paralyzed Veterans of America Research Foundation. He currently serves as a member of the U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Prosthetics & Special Disability Programs Advisory Committee, U.S. Department of Defense Health Board Subcommittee on Amputation and Orthopedics, and the Board of Directors of Easter Seals. Dr. Cooper has actively collaborated with the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre on increasing access to quality services and devices for people with disabilities in India and throughout developing countries.
Recent Awards and Honors
- Distinguished Alumni Speaker, California Polytechnic State University, Department of Electrical Engineering Spring Banquet (2010): For serving as one of the world's foremost authorities on wheelchair design, and for innovation and leadership in engineer and education.
- Outstanding Researcher Award, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System (2010): For outstanding commitment to excellence in research to improve Veteran’s lives.
Community Cornerstone Award, Boy Scouts of America (2010): BSA keenly recognizes the importance of volunteer community leadership and recognized 14 individuals who made significant differences in the quality of life of the people of southwestern Pennsylvania. The reason for 14 "Community Cornerstones" is to compliment the Boy Scouts of America's 14 original founders and board members on the 100th Anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America.
Flag of the United States of America Flown over Walter Reed Army Medical Center and accompanying Certificate of Appreciation (2009): For continued support of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and for your unwavering dedication to improving the quality of life of individuals with disabilities, particularly our military veterans.
Veteran of the Year, Veterans Leadership Program (2009)
For exceptional leadership, service, and advocacy for veterans and military causes.
Community Hero Award, United Cerebral Palsy of Allegheny County (2009)
For enhancing the quality of life of people in our community through increased awareness of issues confronting people with disabilities and bringing about meaningful change in the community.
TRCIL Senator John Heinz Memorial Award, Three Rivers Center for Independent Living (2009)
For increasing opportunities for people with disabilities for equal access in the community in the areas of transportation, employment, housing, and recreation.
United States Congressional Record, Monday, July 27, 2009 – Recognition of Dr. Rory Cooper (2009) To honor Rory A. Cooper, PhD as truly an inspiration to all of us and commending him for his outstanding achievements as a veteran, athlete, scientist, and advocate for people with disabilities.
Outstanding Civilian Service Medal, Headquarters, Medical Command, Dept. of the Army (2009)
For exceptional leadership, service, and advocacy for severely injured service members from October 2004 through May 2008. Dr. Cooper placed WRAMC at the forefront of translating research into clinical practice, which led to improved medical rehabilitation outcomes for service members.
Military Veteran Wheelchair Athlete featured on “Cheerios” Cereal Box (2009)
For athletic achievement and significant contributions to promoting full participation by people with disabilities.