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Graduate School Honors Students, Faculty, and Staff

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Graduate School Honors Students, Faculty, and Staff

Graduate students from the College of Engineering join M. Brian Blake, (second from right) vice provost of academic affairs and dean of the Graduate School, as he presents the College of Engineering's Nurcin Celick with the 2014-2015 Faculty Mentor of the Year Award.

Graduate students from the College of Engineering join M. Brian Blake, (second from right) vice provost of academic affairs and dean of the Graduate School, as he presents the College of Engineering’s Nurcin Celik with the 2014-2015 Faculty Mentor of the Year Award.

Special to UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (April 14, 2015)— The Graduate School recognized its top graduate students, faculty, and staff at the 2014-2015 Graduate Awards Ceremony, including the Miller School’s Sandra Lemmon as the Outstanding Graduate Program Director and the College of Engineering’s Nurcin Celik as Faculty Mentor of the Year.

Noting that the ceremony, held April 10 on the Moss Terrace at the Student Activities Center, allows the UM community to celebrate the work of all of its graduate students, faculty, and staff, M. Brian Blake, vice provost for academic affairs and dean of the Graduate School, congratulated all of the 60-plus nominees “for their accomplishments that continually enhance graduate education at the University.”

In addition to Lemmon, professor of molecular and cellular pharmacology and director of the M.D./Ph.D. Program, and Celik, assistant professor of industrial engineering, seven other individuals from multiple disciplines and all three campuses were honored in the categories of Graduate Student Exemplar, Outstanding Graduate Research Assistant, and Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant. They are:

Qinghua Yang, School of Communication
Outstanding Research Assistant

Aristotelis E. Thanos, College of Engineering
Outstanding Research Assistant

Youaraj Uprety, College of Arts and Sciences
Outstanding Teaching Assistant

Patrice E. Fenton, School of Education and Human Development
Outstanding Teaching Assistant

Alisa Be, College of Arts and Sciences
Outstanding Teaching Assistant

Xiaoran Shi, College of Engineering
Graduate Student Exemplar

Raul Velarde, College of Engineering
Graduate Student Exemplar

View more pictures from the ceremony on Facebook.


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At UM, Girls See Engineering Isn’t Just For Boys


At UM, Girls See Engineering Isn’t Just For Boys

By Robert C. Jones Jr.
UM News


Kelsey Kleinhans, a Ph.D. biomedical engineering student, explains her research to a group of high school girls attending UM’s Introduce A Girl to Engineering Day.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (February 26, 2015) – For Dasia Gibson it was the banana that shattered into more than a dozen pieces after being dipped in liquid nitrogen. For Danica Forestal it was watching her uncle delete a virus from a PC. And for Saige Drecksler it was the memorial service she attended for the astronauts of the doomed Challenger and Columbia space shuttle missions.

While each high school girl had a different story to tell of what ignited their passion for engineering, it was the common goal of learning more about the field’s many academic and career opportunities that brought them together Thursday for Introduce A Girl to Engineering Day on the University of Miami campus.

More than 220 teenage girls from 18 Miami-Dade public and private high schools attended the daylong event, touring UM College of Engineering labs, learning about the research being conducted by some of UM’s female engineering students, and putting their problem-solving skills to the test in a series of brain-twisting exercises.

“Engineering is still a male-dominated field,” said UM biomedical engineering major Stacie Arechavala, who, as the high school outreach coordinator for the UM chapter of the Society of Women Engineers, organized Thursday’s event. “We’re helping these girls learn about a fascinating field that can positively affect lives and change the world.”

Arechavala, who became interested in biomedical engineering after two of her friends suffered traumatic brain injuries in high school, noted that the College of Engineering’s 28 percent female enrollment rate is far above the national average of 15 percent. But she would still like to see those numbers grow.

“Girls need role models,” she said.

The youngsters at UM’s Introduce A Girl to Engineering Day had plenty of role models on Thursday. Doctoral student Kelsey Kleinhans gave groups of high school girls a tour of her biomedical engineering lab, explaining how she is conducting experiments with pig tissue to learn more about the repair and prevention of injuries in humans.

Ann Zapala, a sophomore biomedical engineering major from Chicago, taught the girls about the efficiency of assembly line production, having them perform an experiment that showed they could produce more origami-style figurines by using the widely used manufacturing process as opposed to one worker assembling the figures alone.

The high school students also competed in a contest to see which team could build the longest and strongest bridge out of K’NEX construction toys.

Drecksler, a student at Coral Park Senior High School, came away from the event even more determined to achieve her dream of becoming an aerospace engineer. Said the high schooler: “My goal is to make space travel a reality for everyone.”

Introduce A Girl to Engineering Day was part of Engineers Week at the College of Engineering, with other events including a Simulation Boot Camp, concrete canoe demonstration, entrepreneurs forum, and more.



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Entrepreneur Discusses His Magic Leap


Entrepreneur Discusses His Magic Leap

By Tim Collie
Special to UM News

UM alumnus and successful entrepreneur Rony Abovitz, told students to be bold if they want to chase their dreams.

UM alumnus and entrepreneur Rony Abovitz, whose latest venture attracted $500 million from Google, told students they have to be bold to chase their dreams.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (February 25, 2015) – Being a successful entrepreneur, said Rony Abovitz, is like jumping off a high cliff with a bag of parts and building the airplane that will save you on the way down.

“You have to be bold,” the University of Miami graduate and multi-millionaire entrepreneur told a rapt audience of engineering students, professors, and others Monday night at UM’s Newman Alumni Center. “Bold means you can’t be timid. If you’re going to do something, you just got to do it. You’ve got to be unafraid. If you’re not bold, don’t do it.

“But if you are bold, make sure you’re not looking and make sure you build the plane before you hit the ground,” said Abovitz, B.S.M.E. ’94, M.S.B.M.E. ’96, the featured speaker at the College of Engineering’s 2015 M. Lewis Temares Entrepreneurship Forum.

The founder of a $1 billion-dollar medical technology company whose latest venture has the half-billion-dollar backing of Google, Abovitz is at the forefront of what many believe will be the next major breakthrough in computing science: augmented reality.

Simply put, the still-secret technology promises to seamlessly blend computer graphics with the real world. A user wearing glasses or a headset would see overlays of pictures, graphics, and even other users “augmenting” their normal field of vision. Using such technology, a surgeon on the other side of the world could participate in a heart operation, a gamer could move among realistic moats and castles, or a scientist might one day walk on Mars from the comfort of his laboratory.

But the real revolution will be how the promise of computer technology finally merges with the potential of the human body. The greatest computer every designed, he told the audience, is the human brain we all carry inside our skulls.

“Computing is all about the human body going forward,” said Abovitz, whose Dania Beach-based startup, Magic Leap, received $542 million from Google and other Silicon Valley investors last year. “The next five years is going to be very big, and I think what you’re going to see is the whole importance of the human body in computing.”

What Abovitz stressed again and again to the students is that his life—and the life of any successful entrepreneur—is a series of magic leaps. Some may have nothing to do with the actual venture you’re contemplating, but all are crucial to the character needed to take an idea from a notebook to the NASDAQ.

As a self-described scrawny nerd undergraduate at UM in the early 1990s, Abovitz became obsessed with joining the university track team. He was repeatedly rejected but spent a year throwing a javelin on his own before a coach finally granted him a stomach-churning tryout that ended with him on the team.

His first company, MAKO Surgical Corp., got its funding on September 10, 2001, only to see it nearly disappear when hijacked planes brought down the World Trade Center the next day. He spent the year driving across the country personally demonstrating his concept, a robotic surgical arm, to investors, hospitals, and physicians.

“That was an important moment for an entrepreneur—would you and your idea keep going in a moment of great tragedy?” he told the students, referring to 9/11. “And would people continue to follow you and your idea despite the tragedy?”

The company, which he sold in 2013 for $1.65 billion, is a pioneer in devices like orthopedic implants used by surgeons for use in partial knee and total hip arthroplasty.

Abovitz talked of the incredible sensation of seeing something that he made being used by patients, bumping into complete strangers who were benefiting from his medical technology.

“If you take care of your work as an engineer, it’s going to reverberate through life and through the world in ways you never expected,” he said. “But don’t think you can just throw something out there that pollutes people and it ruins something and it doesn’t come back. When you do the right thing it comes back in a good way.”

Students who questioned Abovitz said they were mesmerized not only by his story but also by the way he told it, which included generous references to everything from Zen Buddhism to the movies Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings.

“He made some excellent points—thing I’ve never really thought about. He made me think that actually entrepreneurship may be a feasible idea for me,” said Anna Zapala, a sophomore in biomedical engineering slated to graduate in 2017.

“I’ve listened to a lot of talks like this, but his was excellent—he really covered a lot of bases about entrepreneurship, what it takes to succeed at this,” said Hunter Bihn, ’17, a double major in international business and economics, who suffers from diabetes and has developed his own startup that makes disposal of diabetic testing materials safe and effortless. “His venture was much more complex and much harder to get approved than hopefully mine is going to be, but it’s tremendously inspiring to see that he got through it in a much tougher setting. It was great.”

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UM Trustee Appointed to National Panel on Airport Scanners

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UM Trustee Appointed to National Panel on Airport Scanners

UM News

Edward Dauer

Dr. Edward A. Dauer

CORAL GABLES, FLA. (February 6, 2015)—University of Miami Trustee and triple alumnus Dr. Edward A. Dauer, a distinguished diagnostic radiologist in the community and research associate professor of biomedical engineering, radiology, and family medicine at UM, has been appointed to the National Academy of Sciences’ special advisory panel on the safety of ultrasound scanners used to screen passengers in airports across the nation.

As a member of the scientific committee on the millimeter wave machines, Dauer, the director of radiology at Florida Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale, will review how the Department of Homeland Security and equipment manufacturers estimate the level of non-ionizing millimeter wave radiation exposures that air travelers are exposed to when scanned by the advanced imaging technology. These screening machines are in use at approximately 160 airports across the nation. Unlike x-ray scanners, which use ionizing radiation that can break bonds in living cells, millimeter wave machines use low-energy, non-ionizing, radio frequency waves to detect weapons, explosives, or other hidden objects.

Appointed by Ralph J. Cicerone, president of the National Academy of Sciences and chair of the National Research Council, the committee is also charged with evaluating whether traveler and operator exposures to non-ionizing radiation meet health and safety standards, and whether the design, and the operating and maintenance procedures for ultrasound machines are appropriate for preventing over exposure.

“It is encouraging that an independent panel of scientists and researchers will be able to study and evaluate objective scientific data to assess the safety of this imaging technology and to protect the traveling public,” Dauer said.

James Tien, Distinguished Professor and Dean of the College of Engineering, said he immediately thought of recommending Dauer for the expert panel when he learned about the upcoming study of millimeter wave screeners. “As both an engineer and a medical doctor, he is uniquely qualified to be a member of the study committee,” Tien said. “Obviously, NAS President Dr. Ralph Cicerone was equally impressed with Dr. Dauer’s qualifications.”

Chaired by Kathryn V. Logan, the principal research engineer emerita at Georgia Institute of Technology and an adjunct professor at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, the 14-member panel’s report is due next year.

Dauer, the first undergraduate at UM to study biomedical engineering, earned his Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering in 1972, his medical degree in 1975, and his master’s in biomedical engineering in 2001. His current academic work at UM includes medical physiology, unified medical sciences, radiation physics, and radiation biology. He established the new research lab in scanning electron microscopy at the College of Engineering and is working on electron microscopy analysis of biomedical devices and tissue engineering. He also served on the Florida State Board of Medicine, the state’s licensing board for physicians, for 11 years, including two terms as chairman.

Dauer has served as a member of the UM Board of Trustees since 1996 and is currently a member of the Executive Committee. He was a member of UM’s President’s Council and of the Medical Dean Leadership Cabinet, and is an active member of the Miller School of Medicine Admissions Committee.

A member of Iron Arrow since 1996, he received the School of Medicine Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2000 and the Henry King Stanford Alumnus of the Year Award in 2001 for his ongoing dedication to the University.

Over the years, he and his family have been generous donors to the University, supporting the Richter Library, the Convocation Center, Athletics, the College of Engineering, the School of Medicine, the School of Nursing and Health Studies, and student scholarships.




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2015 M. Lewis Temares Entrepreneurship Forum Features a Conversation with Rony Abovitz on February 23

ronyEngineer and entrepreneur Rony Abovitz (B.S.M.E. ’94 and M.S.B.M.E. ’96) will be the featured speaker at the 2015 M. Lewis Temares Entrepreneurship Forum at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, February 23, at the Newman Alumni Center. Beginning at 5:30 p.m., a networking reception with students, alumni, friends, and faculty will precede the interactive discussion.

As co-founder of MAKO Surgical, Abovtiz developed the world’s first robotic haptic arm and was named a 2005 Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum for his work on computer-assisted technologies for minimally invasive surgery. In 2013, MAKO was purchased by Stryker Corporation for $1.65 billion.

Now, as founder, president and CEO of Magic Leap, Abovitz is again poised to change the paradigm of the technology world. With $542 million in venture capital (funded by Google, Qualcomm, Legendary Pictures, and others), Magic Leap represented the third largest venture capital project in the nation in 2014. According to Abovtiz, “Magic Leap is going beyond the current perception of mobile computing, augmented reality, and virtual reality. We are transcending all three and will revolutionize the way people communicate, purchase, learn, share, and play.”

Admission to the forum is complementary, but reservations are required. Please RSVP by Thursday, February 19.


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