Tag Archive | "college of engineering"

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Interdisciplinary Research Spurs Innovation

By Matthew O. Perez
UM News


Provost Jeffrey L. Duerk discusses how team science advanced magnetic resonance imaging.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (April 6, 2018)–After more than 30 years developing the field of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Jeffrey L. Duerk, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost,  shared his passion for science and innovation when he presented the College of Engineering’s Strategic Research Initiative Seminar on April 2.

 In his presentation, “Interdisciplinary Teams: Lessons Learned from the Technical Development and Clinical Application of Magnetic Resonance Imaging,” Duerk discussed the evolution and function of biomedical imaging as well as the critical role interdisciplinary teams play in scientific research.

 “Team sciences are best deployed to solve big, challenging problems,” Duerk said.  “If it’s how to tie your shoes, you don’t need a team of scientists. But if you want to transform MRI from a tool that’s used in diagnostic imaging to one that’s used for real-time, image-guided, cancer therapies or cardiovascular therapies, then that’s a big paradigm shift.”

The promise of what can be accomplished through interdisciplinary collaboration, such as the application of engineering to the medical field and vice versa, is what brought Duerk to UM’s College of Engineering where he explored the problems these collaborations have the potential of solving.

Early on, Duerk said, physicists, chemists and electrical engineers were the primary drivers in the development of  MRI. But it was collaborations with experts from other disciplines that enabled the new technologies to be applied to brain, spine, cardiac and musculoskeletal body imaging.

 During the hour-long seminar, attendees learned about research and revolutions in MRI technology, the engineering behind MRI, and how the combination of academic disciplines within the field dramatically affected Duerk’s perception of research and higher education.

 Duerk was the founding director of the Case Center for Imaging Research, which brings together engineers, physicists, physicians, biochemists and radiochemists to develop new biomedical imaging technologies and translational applications, and a founding leader of the Cancer Imaging Program at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Inducted as a fellow into the National Academy of Inventors in 2017, he holds more than 40 patents, has been awarded numerous National Institutes of Health and industry-sponsored grants, and has published nearly 200 peer-reviewed scientific articles.

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Celik Receives Presidential Early Career Award


Celik Receives Presidential Early Career Award

Special to UM News


Nurcin Celik

Outgoing President Obama honored Nurcin Celik, associate professor in the College of Engineering’s Department of Industrial Engineering, with a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). This award is the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.

Celik is the first University of Miami recipient to be honored with a PECASE. The award recognizes her federally funded research into smart cities – specifically the use of dynamic data-driven multi-scale simulations for distributed energy systems in those cities.

“I congratulate these outstanding scientists and engineers on their impactful work,” President Obama said when he presented the awards. “These innovators are working to help keep the United States on the cutting edge, showing that federal investments in science lead to advancements that expand our knowledge of the world around us and contribute to our economy.”

Celik is one of 102 PECASE recipients for 2017. The awards recognize some of the nation’s finest scientists and engineers, who show exceptional potential for leadership in advancing scientific knowledge and engineering in the 21st century.

“All of us at the College of Engineering are excited to congratulate Nurcin on this extremely prestigious, well-deserved recognition. This award is a great honor to Nurcin, the industrial engineering department, the College of Engineering and the entire University of Miami,” said Jean-Pierre Bardet, dean of the University of Miami College of Engineering. “The PECASE is highly competitive, and recognizes not only the excellence and significance of Dr. Celik’s research contributions, but also her potential for future leadership and research impact.”

As part of her presidential award, the U.S. Department of Defense will grant Celik funding of $200,000 per year for five years to advance her research. She will also receive a citation and a plaque.

The awards, established by President Clinton in 1996, are coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President. Awardees are selected for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology, as well as their commitment to community service – as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education or community outreach.

To see the full list of the 102 recipients of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, click here.

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Surveys Explore Sad State of Water in Cuba

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Surveys Explore Sad State of Water in Cuba

By Barbara Gutierrez
UM News

MIAMI, Fla. (January 17, 2017)—When Evaristo lived in his native Cuba, hardly a day went by where he wasn’t dealing with water-related problems such as contaminated drinking water, leaky pipes or streets flooded with raw sewage.

The 60-year-old emigrated to the United States two years ago, leaving those problems behind. But when he returned to Cuba recently to visit his daughter in Havana, he discovered matters hadn’t improved but worsened—he still had to drink bottled water, shower late at night when the water pressure was sufficient, and avoid swimming in dirty rivers and streams.

“Everything in the island needs refurbishing,” he told University of Miami student Nancy Mendoza while waiting for a friend at Miami International Airport (MIA). “Water is no different.”

His story is a recurring one for Mendoza, a Miami Law student who for the past year has been conducting surveys of newly arriving travelers from Cuba to document the water problems on the Communist island.

Her work is part of an interdisciplinary study by College of Engineering Professor Helena Solo-Gabriele, School of Communication Professor Joseph Treaster and Catholic University of America sociologist Enrique Pumar to determine the state of the water in Cuba.

“The information we have on Cuban water is old and the data that is available is not peer-reviewed,” said Solo-Gabriele, who is of Cuban descent but has not visited the island. “We wanted to know the state of the water on the island.”

Initially funded by the UM Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) and the School of Communication, the study hopes to quantifythe availability of water, its quality and the impact it may have on people’s health, said Solo-Gabriele.

So far Mendoza and other UM students participating in the study have logged 500 interviews through a 43-question questionnaire. They hope to finish 100 more for the study to be completed. The interviews are taking place at Miami International Airport so as to avoid the restrictions Cuba would impose on external scrutiny of thecountry’s infrastructure, said the scholars.

Cuba water issues stem from an obsolete and deteriorating infrastructure. The original water and sewage systems on the island were installed prior to the Cuban Revolution in 1959. Very little maintenance has been done on the system in the five decades since, said Solo-Gabriele.

Daily water shortages, leaky pipes, non-working toilets and contaminated water is common. This may surprise many people, especially tourists who are visiting the island by the thousands since renewed relations between the U.S. and Cuba were established in 2014, said Treaster, who has worked on other water-related projects and visited Cuba several times in the ‘80s as a reporter for the New York Times.

“First thing I thought was Cuba has a great reputation for public health, what water problems could there be,” said Treaster, but then he remembered that as a visiting journalist in the ‘80s he only drank bottled water.

Tourists who visit the island encounter a very different reality with water issues. Hot baths and potable water is available around the clock for those who visit Cuba and stay at hotels, said Solo-Gabriele. But for every day citizens the reality of dealing with water issues can be daunting.

A large part of the problem in Havana stems from the aquifer underneath the Almendares River, said Solo-Gabriele. “The river is receiving all of the sewage and river water infiltrates into the aquifer, putting the drinking water at risk.”

Among the initial findings of the study:

  • Water scarcity affects Cuban citizens almost daily.
  • The outdated pipes are so corroded that often the water is contaminated.
  • Most Cubans have cisterns or water tanks in their yards to store water because official water systems usually provide running water for a few hours a day.
  • Water pressure is an issue in many buildings, requiring residents to use buckets to bathe themselves.
  • Disposal of garbage is spotty. Often, the trash ends up in the water, causing health problems.

Pumar, who was born in Cuba, and has visited the island in the ‘70s and ’80s, said that he was surprised by the extent of the water problems, noting that their interviews of newly arrived visitors cover folks who have come from several cities on the island.

“We have even heard of people getting sick from bottled water that they bought on the black market,” he said. “One journalist got sick because he ordered ice in a restaurant.”

Often, water bottles sold on street are filled with tap water and sometimes ice cubes are made with purified water, but they become contaminated by bartenders and waiters who failed to wash their hands after using the bathroom, said Treaster.

The scholars have an invitation to present at the Miami Institute for Advanced Study of the Americas at UM in the spring. Their study will be published in the journal Cuba in Transition, and they will write an article on the study for the journal Cuban Affairs.

Pumar said the scholars presented their findings at the July 2016 conference of the Study of the Cuban Economy in Miami.

They plan to launch a website with all the data to help organizations and businesses interested in investing in the island to become acquainted with the challenges.

On the practical side, the researchers want the website to be useful to the Cubans on the island and Cuban-Americans who visit their families and friends. Pumar believes that a push to educate both populations with tips such as how they should boil water and store it and the use of water filters would be very beneficial.

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Chinese University and UM Finalize Partnership


Chinese University and UM Finalize Partnership

Special to UM News


Participating in the signing ceremony were, from left, Donna Arbide, associate vice president of Alumni Relations and executive director of the UMAA Division of University Advancement; Guoxiang Zhao, vice chancellor of Henan University; Thomas J. LeBlanc, UM executive vice president and provost; and Jean-Pierre Bardet, dean of UM’s College of Engineering.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (January 10, 2017)—Representatives from Henan University, one of the oldest universities in China, visited the University of Miami last week to celebrate the creation of the $1 million Henan University Endowed Professorship Fund in the UM College of Engineering’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and to commemorate a recently finalized partnership between the two schools.

“Both universities will benefit from shared engineering knowledge through this partnership,” said Jean-Pierre Bardet, dean of UM’s College of Engineering. “It also presents a tremendous opportunity for students and faculty from both institutions to explore and develop new solutions to global issues. It’s an excellent opportunity for us to collaborate on real-world projects.”

Work on the partnership actually began under the administration of former College of Engineering Dean James Tien. On April 24, 2014, representatives from the two schools met in Beijing to sign a Memorandum of Understanding related to collaboration. Bardet continued the discussions when he became dean, finalizing the partnership with Henan University last year.

Located in Kaifeng, a famous historic city that was the capital of China during several dynasties, Henan University is a comprehensive institution with 11 branches of learning: agriculture, economics, education, engineering, history, law, liberal arts, management, medicine, philosophy, and science.

Henan University has selected 10 students who will attend UM in the near future. In preparation, they are enrolled in an intensive English training program. The Henan University delegation’s visit to UM included a tour of the Coral Gables campus, a formal gift-agreement signing ceremony, and a luncheon at the Newman Alumni Center.


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Center for Green Aviation to Focus on Electric Planes


Center for Green Aviation to Focus on Electric Planes

Special to UM News

electric-aircraftCORAL GABLES, Fla. (December 13, 2016)—Funded in part with a grant from the Emil Buehler Perpetual Trust, the College of Engineering  has established a Center for Green Aviation to further develop green, zero-direct-emission electric aircraft, with a particular focus on increasing their range and payload capacity. The first such research facility in the United States, the facility will provide the next generation of electric aircraft engineers hands-on experience in cutting-edge technologies.

The center will capitalize on the expertise and unique technology of the college’s Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department,  which the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA),  the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration, (DARPA) and Boeing have recognized with grants and contracts.

“The Center for Green Aviation will develop technologies that make this green transportation option practical for future aviation,” says Ge-Cheng Zha,  co-director of the center and a professor in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department. “We will begin with small General Aviation aircraft and thin-haul aircraft. Today’s electric aircraft can only go short distances of 100 miles or so. Our research will change the face of consumer aircraft, as well as unmanned aerial drone systems.”

Researchers at the college have already demonstrated a novel design, which was able to fly more than twice the distance of a similarly sized electric aircraft that used conventional design. Their new design allowed for a 510-mile range with four passengers. This design is based on a flow control technology, called Co-Flow jet airfoil, which was developed at the University of Miami. The technology offers radically increased aerodynamic efficiency and lift coefficient.

Integrating that design with the college’s discoveries and expertise in aerodynamics science, electric power sources using structure batteries, and multi-functional composite materials, the Center for Green Aviation will develop technologies including the ultra-high-lift, high-efficiency co-flow jet (CFJ) wing; ultra-high-capacity electric energy storage devices (UHEES); integrated multifunctional structural batteries; and high-efficiency, low-noise swept propellers. The center will be integrated with the college’s educational programs for graduate and undergraduate students.

“A few years ago, everyone thought electric cars were just a dream. Now, you see Tesla and many other manufacturers that have turned that dream into a reality. The same is going to happen with green aviation,” says Jean-Pierre Bardet, dean of the College of Engineering and director of the center. “Now, we need partnerships between academic researchers and industry in order to update and fine-tune the technology and bring electric aircraft to market. By bringing together science, technology, engineering, and practice, we will be able to develop products with tangible benefits for society. Having the University of Miami at the forefront of such a development is important, not only for the University, but for the world of aviation.”

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