Tag Archive | "college of engineering"

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“The information we have on Cuban water is old and the data that is available is not peer-reviewed,” said Solo-Gabriele, who is of Cuban descent but has not visited the island.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

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Chinese University and UM Finalize Partnership


Special to UM News

Henan.Visit

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

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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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3D Collaborative Lab Will Help Turn Ideas Into Reality


Special to UM News

3dlabrendering

A birds-eye rendering shows how the 5,850-square-foot lab will be organized.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (December 7, 2016)—Promising to revolutionize the design and invention process at the University of Miami and bring the institution a step closer to becoming the innovation hub of South Florida, a new collaborative fabrication laboratory equipped by Johnson & Johnson Services Inc. with the latest in 3D printers will open soon at UM’s College of Engineering, giving faculty, students, and researchers from across the institution the tools and technology they need to turn their ideas into reality.

The 3D Printing Collaborative Laboratory, a joint initiative with Johnson & Johnson, will feature state-of-the-art additive manufacturing equipment, better known as 3D printers, and other high-tech devices that will speed the development of interdisciplinary research projects and grant proposals, help students complete capstone projects, and provide experiential learning opportunities for undergraduates and graduates. A full-time engineer/scientist will be onsite at the 5,850-square-foot lab for training purposes.

“The Collaborative Laboratory will change the way people create, interact, and work on projects, and further collaborative work across the different disciplines to create a culture of solving global issues,” said Jean-Pierre Bardet, dean of the College of Engineering. “Our collaboration with Johnson & Johnson Services Inc. gives us the opportunity for technical advancement and promotion of excellence in education.”

Representatives from Johnson & Johnson Services will collaborate with UM students and faculty to support research in materials development and advanced process development for medical applications. The 3D printing process, which involves making three-dimensional solid objects from digital files, could revolutionize the field of orthopaedics, eye health, and consumer products.

Housed at the McArthur Engineering Building, the lab will be a centerpiece of the college’s strategic initiatives in research and education and will embrace UM President Julio Frenk’s Roadmap to Our New Century initiative, offering a space for collaboration and problem-solving based on interdisciplinary inquiry. It also will advance UM’s goal of becoming a hemispheric innovation hub through industry and community partnerships that promote ideas and product development, and will strengthen the University’s initiatives in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

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Students Design Projects for the ‘Living Laboratory’ of Miami Beach


Special to UM News

Among the project students will design for Miami Beach is a new use for this fire station property.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (November 14, 2016) — With the city of Miami Beach as their client, students in the College of Engineering’s Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering are developing sustainable designs for three properties: Maurice Gibb Memorial Park, the current site of Fire Station No. 1, and the Byron Carlyle Theater.

For their senior design projects, the students’ designs must, at a minimum, meet LEED Gold standards, with an emphasis on resiliency and sustainability. They also must address sea-level rise adaptation and climate-change mitigation, meet the local community’s needs and, of course, adhere to Miami Beach’s city code. The course supports the recent city/university partnership in the MetroLab Network for the Smart Cities initiative, which promotes innovative research for sea-level rise adaptation.

The students began working on their designs early this semester after site visits with the city. “We met with the city of Miami Beach to obtain guidance, but we also have interviewed local residents and businesses to determine their needs for the area,” said Michael Notarfrancesco, a senior in the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering. “It is very rewarding and relevant working on real-world problems and especially with a local municipality to provide implementable solutions.”

The design projects will conclude when the students present their proposals to Miami Beach officials, industry advisory boards, and consultants in early 2017.

“The city of Miami Beach continues to serve as a living laboratory,” said Elizabeth Wheaton, director of Miami Beach’s Department of Environment and Sustainability. “This collaboration with the College of Engineering on this project gives us a new perspective on how to design our community, using the latest techniques and theories. We expect the students to deliver designs that will enhance and showcase the city’s sustainability and resiliency efforts.”

For students, the collaboration is an opportunity to work with a real client on projects with multiple stakeholders and complex requirements. “Students from all different engineering majors are participating in this project,” aid Michelle Stanley, an undergraduate student in the department’s five-year Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degree program. “We are incorporating innovative designs and technology not used in today’s buildings to save costs and resolve such pressing issues as resiliency and rising sea levels.”

“The city of Miami Beach is one of the nation’s most forward-thinking on the topic of sustainability,” said College of Engineering Dean Jean-Pierre Bardet. “This represents an incredible opportunity to work with a client on the forefront of this engineering frontier. I expect that our students and faculty will learn from the city while also sharing new ideas and cutting-edge perspectives with the city.”

About the three projects:

Maurice Gibb Memorial Park is located on the waterfront in the Sunset Harbour neighborhood. The city has charged the students with upgrading the park’s existing marine patrol and indoor/outdoor community multipurpose space, designing a water-taxi stop and new stormwater management pump station, and integrating a new living shoreline with existing seawalls. The students’ designs will include an environmental lab for tracking air and water quality as well as real-time weather and transportation data. The park’s operation must be sustained by renewable energy.

For the Fire Station No. 1 project, the students will design a use for the land that currently holds the fire station, which the city has proposed relocating. The students may choose to preserve the current site or propose a new structure and/or land use for this site, which is in a low-lying historic district. The city is interested in a number of potential uses, including affordable housing, a parking garage that may be converted into affordable housing in the future, an office/retail/residential mixed-use project, a resiliency demonstration lab or a wastewater treatment/reclamation facility. The design must also integrate a wastewater pump station located adjacent to the firehouse.

The Byron Carlyle Theater, on Miami Beach’s 71st Street commercial corridor, is currently used as storage space by the city. The adjacent O-Cinema is in use as a theater. The city is interested in some type of mixed-use project that includes a theater or cultural arts center. It may be a retail/restaurant/office project, one that combines a cultural arts center and residential tower, or it might combine a theater, exhibition hall and community education center. The city is particularly interested in uses that include affordable housing for the local workforce. It is also encouraging on-site vegetable gardens and a sustainability and resiliency demonstration lab.

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