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UM and Community Partners Join MetroLab Network


The partnership between local governments and universities allows members to research, develop and deploy solutions to address challenges faced by urban areas.

UM News

UM, FIU< and Miami Dade College are joining Miami-Dade County and the Beaches in the new MetroLab Network consortium.

UM, FIU, and Miami Dade College are joining Miami-Dade County and the Beaches in the new MetroLab Network.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (September 30, 2016) – As Zika and other climate change-related diseases continue to be the focus of local departments of health, researchers and academics at the University of Miami maintain their focus on efforts to work collaboratively with local institutions as one of the newest members of the MetroLab Network.

As part of the Greater Miami and the Beaches Consortium, UM will partner with Miami-Dade County and the cities of Miami and Miami Beach, along with university partners Florida International University and Miami Dade College.

“The MetroLab Network partnership will provide the University with a stronger relationship to face the challenges affecting our cities,” said Jean-Pierre Bardet, dean of the UM College of Engineering. “This is the value of the interaction between cities and universities, to solve the challenging new issues of the 21st century.”

The consortium’s projects will focus on adaption to sea-level rise and coastal flooding, response to climate-related diseases, including Zika, and access to transportation and affordable housing.

“The MetroLab Network partnership is a great opportunity for us to establish robust collaborations that will ensure that the best available science is informing important community decisions in how we adapt to environmental challenges associated with climate change,” said Ben Kirtman, professor of atmospheric sciences at the Rosenstiel School for Marine and Atmospheric Science and director of the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies.

In a statement to the community, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Giménez stressed that the county will focus on three priorities, one of which is to develop specific programs and protocols to eliminate and address the impact of climate change-related diseases such as Zika.

“Miami-Dade County, Miami, and Miami Beach already have existing relationships and ongoing projects with our local universities, but through our participation in MetroLab Network, we will benefit from increased coordination between the three members of Greater Miami and the Beaches, the three local universities, and the members of MetroLab Network,” said Giménez.

Mario Stevenson, professor of medicine, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, and director of the Institute of AIDS and Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Miller School of Medicine, will meet with the consortium’s city partners in early October to discuss the Zika project.

“Research universities have the physical and human resources to undertake the research and development of innovative projects at a lower cost. A partnership through the MetroLab Network allows us, as the University, to outline the purpose and process of collaborative research and provide solutions to the problems faced by our community,” he said.

The consortium also will work to identify technology-enabled solutions to another challenge of urbanization: affordable housing and transportation.

“Affordable housing is one of the most significant challenges facing Miami today, with over half of our households paying more than 30 percent of their income on housing,” said Robin Bachin, UM assistant provost for Civic and Community Engagement. “Already, UM’s Office of Civic and Community Engagement has partnered with FIU’s Metropolitan Center to create the South Florida Housing Studies Consortium, whose goal is to raise awareness about the challenges facing our housing market and craft solutions through policy and practice to overcome them.”

Bachin will continue to work closely with FIU and the Miami-Dade County Department of Public Housing and Community Development to enhance the relationships between the universities and local governments in order to ensure the best solutions for housing affordability in South Florida.

The MetroLab network now includes 40 partnerships between local governments and their university partners, focused on incorporating data, analytics, and innovation into local government programs. Members of the network research, develop, and deploy technologies and policy approaches to address challenges facing the nation’s urban areas. MetroLab Network was launched by 21 founding city-university pairings in September 2015 at the White House as part of the Obama Administration’s Smart Cities Initiative.

In addition to Greater Miami and the Beaches, UM, FIU, and Miami Dade College, new MetroLab Network members announced September 26 are:

City of Los Angeles – California State University, Los Angeles

City of San Francisco – University of California, Berkeley

University of Pittsburgh (joining existing City of Pittsburgh – Carnegie Mellon Partnership)

For more information on MetroLab Network visit www.metrolabnetwork.org.

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College of Engineering Distinguished Speakers Series: ‘Ceramic Composites for High Temperature Aerospace Systems’


Marshall

David Marshall

David Marshall, a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a principal scientist at Teledyne Scientific Company, will present a seminar entitled “Ceramic Composites for High Temperature Aerospace Systems” on Monday, September 26,  from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the McArthur Engineering Annex, room 202. In his presentation, which will be broadcast live, Marshall will discuss the development of ceramic composites with optimized fiber architectures for applications in hypersonics, turbine engines, and rocket nozzles. For more information, call 305-284-2571 or email mpernas@miami.edu. To sign up for the live broadcast, visit coe.miami.edu/speaker/Marshall.

 

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UM to Design Smart City in the Yucatan

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UM to Design Smart City in the Yucatan


ZencitiSpecial to UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (July 12, 2016)—In March, the University of Miami announced a hemispheric collaboration between its Center for Computational Science and the Yucatan State Government’s Information Technologies Innovation Center, which is known as Heuristic and located in the Yucatan Science and Technology Park. Taking that collaboration a step further, the UM School of Architecture, its Responsive Architecture and Design Lab, and the CCS will come together to design Zenciti, a smart city next to the science park.

“Instances where smart cities are designed and implemented from scratch are very rare,” said Rodolphe el-Khoury, dean of UMSoA and director of the RAD-UM Lab. “We are fortunate to have the opportunity to design a hyper-connected city where urban infrastructure, municipal services, and social activities are orchestrated into a vibrant and sustainable environment.”

Zenciti came about when a group of developers and leaders in the IT industry joined forces for an opportunity they saw in the growing knowledge economy of Yucatan, spurred by its strategic geographic location and various other social and economic circumstances, including the Yucatan Science and Technology Park, located 30 minutes from downtown Merida. Zenciti will bring into play, among other things, a hub for tech startups that should create a synergy with the science park and fuel development.

Dean el-Khoury and his team think of Zenciti as a startup city: “Just like startup firms create something innovative that is hard to accommodate within existing companies, a startup city prototypes from the ground up a new way of life, something that departs from existing cities and the lifestyles, transactions, governance, and culture they enable,” he said.

Zenciti will occupy roughly 650 acres and will provide 6,000 jobs in the area, on top of the 4,000 that will be created by the science and technology park. The multidisciplinary team working on the smart city includes the following:

School of Architecture:
Rodolphe el-Khoury, PI/RAD-UM
Adib Cure – Architecture and Urban Design
Carie Penabad – Architecture and Urban Design
Juhong Park – Computation, Machine Learning, and Smart Systems
Mark Troen – Real Estate Development and Finance
Veruska Vasconez – Digital Media

Center for Computational Science:
Dean Rodolphe el-Khoury – PI/CCS Program Director Smart Cities
Chris Mader – Software Engineering
Joel Zysman – Advanced Computing

College of Engineering:
Wangda Zuo – Energy and Infrastructure
Landolf Rhode-Barbarigos – Responsive Structures

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‘Witch Doctors’ Flex Skills on BattleBots

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‘Witch Doctors’ Flex Skills on BattleBots


By Barbara Gutierrez
UM News

BattleBots

Standing over their robots are, from left, Witch Doctor teammates Paul Grata, Jennifer Villa, Andrea Suarez, and Michael Gellatly.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (June 23, 2016)—Folktales tell us that most witch doctors believe in healing. But this Witch Doctor is bent on maiming, scorching, and annihilating anything in its path.

Designed by a team that includes two University of Miami alumni, Witch Doctor is a 220-pound robot, which, with its flame-throwing sidekick, Shaman, will try to destroy other robotic competitors in the second season of ABC’s BattleBots.

During the course of the season, which premiered June 23, 48 robots will fight in grueling three-minute matches, but only one will ultimately triumph.

Andrea Suarez, B.S., M.S. ’11, and Michael Gellatly, B.S. ’06, are banking on their robotic duo emerging victorious when they compete during the June 30 show.

“Our strategy is a little unusual because we decided to meet the 250-pound weight limit with two robots instead of one,” said Suarez. “Witch Doctor weighs 220 pounds and has a weapon that spins vertically, while Shaman only weighs 30 pounds and uses a large flamethrower to attack its opponents.”

Witch Doctor participated in the first season of BattleBots and made it to the quarterfinals, where it faced the most-feared robot of all: Tombstone.

Although Witch Doctor and his human handlers lost, they inflicted the most damage to Tombstone in season one.

Suarez and Gellatly met when she was in high school at Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart, and he was at UM. At the time, she was competing in high school tournaments with light robots weighing a mere one and two pounds, and he was about to become president of the UM Robotics Team.

When they connected again at UM, they fine-tuned their skills as students in UM’s College of Engineering. Using steel, titanium, and aluminum, they were building electric robots “at a different level,” said Suarez.

“UM gave us the classes and the ability to refine what we knew and then apply it,” she said. “We had resources that we did not have before.”

Working with engineering graduate students and supportive faculty encouraged them to persevere, Gellatly recalls.

“Some people were critical of dueling robots,” said Gellatly. “But we knew that, although we were not saving lives, we were learning valuable engineering lessons.”

The friends continued to compete locally and nationally in college-level robotics competitions, later joining friends Paul Grata and Jennifer Villa to create the Witch Doctor team in 2010. Dressed in top hats and sporting skulls and bones, the team chose its name to appeal to children.

“We wanted to make sure that we drew in kids,” said Suarez. “We wanted children to be attracted to engineering without knowing that they were learning about engineering.”

Their strategy seems to be working. Later this year, the company Hexbug will debut a Witch Doctor toy. And in their day jobs, Suarez and Gellatly are actually enhancing, if not saving, lives. They both work in research and development at Zimmer Biomet, developing implants for traumatic injuries.

 

 

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UM Launches $1M Revolving Reserve to Seed Green Initiatives

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UM Launches $1M Revolving Reserve to Seed Green Initiatives


By Maya Bell
UM News

The metal hali

For the inaugural UGRR project, the metal halide lights in the Wellness Center’s main gym will be replaced with LED lights.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (May 20, 2016)—The University of Miami’s initial spend-to-save-energy idea is straightforward: Spend $30,000 to replace all the metal halide lights in the Patti and Allan Herbert Wellness Center’s basketball gym with more efficient LED lights, saving $9,000 a year in utility costs. Then, in 3½ years, when the new lights have paid for themselves, redirect the annual savings to other projects that will reduce the U’s energy costs and carbon footprint.

Proposed by Jose Varona, associate director for energy management systems, the gym light swap is the inaugural project of the University’s $1 million U Green Revolving Reserve, an innovative financing tool that a growing number of universities are using to implement energy-efficient, renewable energy and other sustainability initiatives that generate cost savings.

But what other projects the UGRR will support could depend on the ingenuity and imagination of faculty, staff, students, and the broader UM community. The UGRR is now seeking proposals for green projects on the Coral Gables and Rosenstiel School campuses that will not only pay back their respective initial investments, but eventually generate enough savings to replenish the fund and pay for other green projects. Managed by a committee representing a cross-section of the University, the UGRR also plans to fund green-oriented research that could serve as test beds for national deployment.

Brian Gitlin

Brian Gitlin

“The target projects are those that pay back within five years—something that can be done quickly, and effectively, without having to wait for the standard capital request process,” said Brian Gitlin, assistant vice president for real estate who spearheaded the creation of the UGRR after learning about the green revolving fund (GRF) concept at a conference. “We are also open to projects that could take longer, especially if there is a strong sustainability element to it.”

UM became one of more than 50 universities and colleges to establish its own GRF when it accepted the Sustainability Endowments Institute’s Billion Dollar Green Challenge. The challenge encourages nonprofit institutions to invest a collective total of $1 billion in self-managed GRFs to finance energy efficiency improvements. To join the challenge, UM committed a reserve of up to $1 million, with the goal of cutting its operating expenses and reducing its environmental impact.

The reserve also has the benefit of freeing up funds for other campus needs, engaging the entire University community in sustainability efforts, and promoting interdisciplinary collaborations to identify new projects.

“We already see examples of such collaboration and engagement between the College of Engineering and the School of Architecture, which are working on an initiative to bring microgrid capabilities to the Coral Gables campus,” Varona said. “Microgrids could be great UGRR projects because they enable facilities to operate off the main electric grid. Instead, they would be powered by battery, solar panels, or other renewable resources, which would cut costs and carbon emissions and increase our energy independence.”

As Varona notes, the need for cutting operating expenses and reducing the U’s carbon footprint is becoming increasingly critical. Over just a four-year period, the University’s operating expenses on utilities and maintenance increased by 38 percent, from $54.3 million in fiscal year 2010-11 to $74.9 million in fiscal year 2013-14.

At the same time, the world, and South Florida in particular, is becoming increasingly vulnerable to the consequences of global warming, caused primarily by the continued emission of carbon dioxide and other human-produced greenhouse gases that are trapped in the atmosphere and acidifying the oceans.

As the University’s Climate Change Special Report detailed, the rate of sea-level rise in South Florida is already outpacing world projections, nuisance flooding is increasing on Miami Beach, and other nearby cities, and the world’s only tropical coral reef off our coastline is dissolving much faster than originally predicted.

“The bottom line is, as an institution, we need to cut our operating costs and reduce our environmental impact,” Gitlin said. “So we want to hear from different people or groups across the University about ideas that can be evaluated and funded in a flexible and efficient manner to help us do that.”

The UGRR Management Committee will review and select the proposals and ideas to implement based on criteria that includes, but is not limited to, the cost of implementation, the opportunity for cost savings, the estimated payback period, and the potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing educational, research, or social benefits.

In addition to Gitlin and Varona, members of the committee are:

o   Andrea Heuson, professor of finance in the School of Business Administration

o   Antonio Nanni, professor of civil, architectural, and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering

o   Rich Jones, associate vice president for facilities design and construction

o   Aintzane Celaya, assistant vice president for budget and planning

o   James Sprinkle, executive director for facilities management

o   Teddy Lhoutellier, sustainability manager

o   Derick Sheldon, student and member of the ECO Agency-Student Government

UGRR proposals will be reviewed initially by a working group that will provide feedback and determine if the ideas are ready for consideration by the UGRR Management Committee.

To submit an idea, complete the project nomination form and submit it to greenu@miami.edu. For more information about the UGRR, view the UGRR homepage, the nomination form and the operational procedures.

 

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