News | Powering the New Engineer News from Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering at the University of Florida Wed, 19 Aug 2020 20:05:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Gilbert Creates inLine Ticketing System to Lower Health Risk When Voting Wed, 05 Aug 2020 16:25:39 +0000 As people across the country head to the polls over the next few months, a concern on many minds is how to stay safe while voting. With the COVID-19 pandemic surging nationwide, what can election officials do to ensure everyone has the ability to vote without risking their health?

Juan E. Gilbert, Ph.D., The Banks Family Preeminence Endowed Professor and chair of the UF Department of Computer & Information Science & Engineering (CISE), has created a ticketing system to help voters maintain social distancing while exercising their right to vote. Dr. Gilbert, who has been conducting research on elections for more than 15 years, saw a need down to the local level and filled it.

“Everyone wants to feel safe while they are casting their vote,” he said. “The inLine Ticketing System lowers voters’ risk of contracting COVID-19 by reducing the length of lines and reducing the amount of time people need to stand close to others.”

After identifying the concerns of sending thousands to the polls during a pandemic, Dr. Gilbert started working on an easy-to-use system that allows poll workers to hand out tickets to voters waiting in line. These tickets are printed out on an as-needed-basis and given to voters as the lines get long. Each ticket is printed with a QR code, along with a date and time to return for voting in English and Spanish. As voters return at their designated time, the QR code is scanned, and they proceed to vote.

Dr. Gilbert said he hopes this app will encourage voters to participate in this year’s election.

“The inLine Ticketing System takes the risk out of waiting in line because your ticket holds your place,” he said. “Voters can keep their distance and come back at their designated time to vote as they normally would.”

The inLine Ticketing System has many applications beyond voting, such as reducing lines at COVID-19 testing sites.

Dr. Gilbert has been working on securing elections for more than a decade. In 2003, Dr. Gilbert and his research team developed Prime lll, the “first open-source universal design” voting system that accommodates persons with and without disabilities and provides a paper printout of the ballot.

Earlier this year, Dr. Gilbert testified as an expert witness regarding election security during a hearing by the House Administration Committee. He shared his expertise in voting system security, accessibility and usability.

Dr. Gilbert concluded in his testimony in January with, “As a nation, we have the capacity to build an elections system for the future but doing so requires focused attention from citizens; federal, state, and local governments; election administrators, and innovators in the academy and industry. It also requires a commitment of appropriate resources. Representative democracy only works if all eligible citizens can participate in elections and be confident that their ballots have been accurately cast, counted, and tabulated.”

For more information on how the app works, to view a video demo and to download the app, visit the inLine Ticketing System website.

UF Announces $70 Million Artificial Intelligence Partnership with NVIDIA Tue, 21 Jul 2020 19:14:39 +0000 Originally posted on

The University of Florida today announced a public-private partnership with NVIDIA that will catapult UF’s research strength to address some of the world’s most formidable challenges, create unprecedented access to AI training and tools for underrepresented communities, and build momentum for transforming the future of the workforce.

The initiative is anchored by a $50 million gift — $25 million from UF alumnus Chris Malachowsky and $25 million in hardware, software, training and services from NVIDIA, the Silicon Valley-based technology company he cofounded and a world leader in AI and accelerated computing.

Along with an additional $20 million investment from UF, the initiative will create an AI-centric data center that houses the world’s fastest AI supercomputer in higher education. Working closely with NVIDIA, UF will boost the capabilities of its existing supercomputer, HiPerGator, with the recently announced NVIDIA DGX SuperPOD™ architecture. This will give faculty and students within and beyond UF the tools to apply AI across a multitude of areas to improve lives, bolster industry, and create economic growth across the state.

UF’s National AI Leadership

The partnership will be central to UF’s vision to be a national leader in the application of AI, including an expansive plan to elevate its reach and impact in research, teaching, and economic development. It provides a replicable framework for future public-private cooperation, and a model for addressing society’s grand challenges through interdisciplinary collaboration. By deploying AI across the curriculum, this powerful resource will address major challenges such as rising seas, aging populations, data security, personalized medicine, urban transportation and food insecurity.

“UF’s leadership has a bold vision for making artificial intelligence accessible across its campus,” said Malachowsky, who serves as an NVIDIA Fellow. “What really got NVIDIA and me excited was partnering with UF to go broader still, and make AI available to K-12 students, state and community colleges, and businesses. This will help address underrepresented communities and sectors across the region where the technology will have a profound positive effect.”

Extensive Collaboration with NVIDIA

NVIDIA’s technology powers two-thirds of the world’s 500 fastest supercomputers, including eight of the top 10. The third-generation HiPerGator will have access to NVIDIA’s most advanced AI software and integrate 140 NVIDIA DGX™ A100 systems with 1,120 NVIDIA A100 Tensor Core GPUs and high-performance NVIDIA Mellanox HDR 200Gb/s InfiniBand networking to deliver 700 petaflops of AI performance.

“Artificial intelligence is the most powerful technology force of our time,” said Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of NVIDIA. “Fueled by data and machine learning, AI is advancing at an exponential pace, impacting every industry from healthcare to transportation to the sciences. Through their generosity and vision, Chris and UF are providing a mighty foundation for students and faculty to harness this technology and drive discovery.”

UF is the first institution of higher learning in the U.S. to receive DGX A100 systems, which are designed to accelerate diverse workloads, including AI training, inference, and data analytics.

NVIDIA will also contribute its AI expertise to UF through ongoing support and collaboration across the following initiatives:

  • The NVIDIA Deep Learning Institute will collaborate with UF on developing new curriculum and coursework for both students and the community, including programing tuned to address the needs of young adults and teens to encourage their interest in STEM and AI, better preparing them for future educational and employment opportunities.
  • UF will become the site of the latest NVIDIA AI Technology Center, where UF Graduate Fellows and NVIDIA employees will work together to advance AI.
  • NVIDIA solution architects and product engineers will partner with UF on the installation, operation and optimization of the NVIDIA-based supercomputing resources on campus, including the latest AI software applications. 

Integrated AI Curriculum, Intelligent-Decision Support, Equitable Access

As a comprehensive institution, UF has a goal of bringing together students and faculty from across campus—and across the state. It will be among the nation’s first to integrate AI across all disciplines and make it a ubiquitous part of its academic enterprise. It will offer certificates and degree programs in AI and data science, with curriculum modules for specific technical and industry-focused domains. The initiative includes a commitment from UF to hire 100 more faculty members focused on AI. They will join 500 new faculty recently added across disciplines — many of whom will weave AI into their teaching and research.

“More than ever before in my lifetime, people around the country and the globe are looking to universities to expand access to higher education and technology and to level the field of opportunity for all,” UF President Kent Fuchs said. “UF intends to meet that challenge, and this partnership will help us do it.”

Within UF Health, UF’s robust academic health center, AI systems are being deployed to monitor patient conditions in real time, making it the first health system to use deep-learning technology to generate patient viability data. Through a novel system known as DeepSOFA, Dr. Azra Bihorac and her team use AI systems to collect and organize a patient’s medical data so that doctors can make better-informed decisions. DeepSOFA is but one example of how AI technology will be put to use to bolster research and improve patient care at UF Health. 

To ensure no community is left behind, UF plans to promote wide accessibility to these computing capabilities and work with other institutions to develop a talent pipeline able to harness the power of AI through several initiatives. These include:

  • Establishing UF’s Equitable AI program, led by Dr. Juan Gilbert, Department of Computer & Information Science & Engineering. The effort is convening faculty members across the university to create standards and certifications in developing tools and solutions that are cognizant of bias, unethical practice and legal and moral issues.
  • Creating partnerships with industry and other academic groups, such as the Inclusive Engineering Consortium, whose students will work with members to conduct research and recruitment to UF graduate programs. The effort is led by HWCOE faculty member Dr. Damon Woodard. UF will also partner with these institutions to provide training in AI.

“This initiative will allow us to recruit and equip a diverse, talented cadre of faculty and students across multiple disciplines and bring them together with colleagues from government and the private sector to find solutions to our most important problems,” said Dr. Cammy Abernathy, dean of UF’s Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering.

University officials expect today’s announcement will spark additional excitement among others who have significant resources and abilities related to AI, and reaffirmed their commitment to serve as a catalyst for those who wish to step up and join in this amazing adventure.

FICS Research Receives $7.8M to Help Make On-Chip Security Pervasive Mon, 13 Jul 2020 13:58:38 +0000 Originally posted on the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering’s website

Florida Institute for Cybersecurity (FICS) Research has announced a collaboration with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) on a program called Automated Implementation of Secure Silicon (AISS). Leading electronic design automation company Synopsys will serve as a prime contractor on the program. The $7.8M grant, part of the DARPA Electronic Resurgence Initiative (ERI), has the broad goal of making scalable on-chip security pervasive throughout industry and military applications.

As the program description outlines,

The objective of the program is to develop a design tool and IP ecosystem – including tool vendors, chip developers, IP licensers, and the open source community – that will allow security to be inexpensively incorporated into chip designs with minimal effort and expertise, ultimately making scalable on-chip security ubiquitous.

The Team

Seven UF faculty members will be involved in the project, with Dr. Mark Tehranipoor as the lead Principal Investigator. All are members of FICS Research.

Faculty Member Affiliation
Mark Tehranipoor (Lead PI) ECE
Christophe Bobda ECE
Farimah Farahmandi ECE
Domenic Forte ECE
Yier Jin ECE
Prabhat Mishra CISE
Fahim Rahman ECE

The AISS program will be structured as a unique partnership between industry, academia, and government. Synopsys, due to its industry-leading position as an EDA tool/IP provider, will serve as a prime contractor on the AISS program. FICS Research will serve as the primary academic partner on the Synopsys lead team. Key subcontracting partners with Synopsys include: Arm, Boeing, UltraSoC, UC San Diego, Purdue University, and Texas A&M.

The Background

In June of 2017, the DARPA Microsystems Technology Office (MTO) announced a new Electronic Resurgence Initiative (ERI) to ensure far-reaching improvements in electronics performance well beyond the limits of traditional scaling. As silicon fabrication continues its move overseas, the need to create a secure, trustworthy chip fabrication supply chain for industry and military use has become more critical than ever.

DARPA kicked off the ERI with six programs aligned to three thrust areas under the first phase of ERI.

  • The Materials and Integration thrust asked whether the integration of unconventional materials could enhance conventional silicon circuits
  • The Architectures thrust asked whether the electronics community could enjoy the benefits of specialized circuitry while still relying on general programming constructs through the proper software/hardware co-design.
  • The Designs thrust asked whether the electronics community could dramatically lower the barriers to modern system-on-chip design and unleash a new era of circuit and system specialization and innovation.
New College of Florida and University of Florida to Establish Dual Degree Program Tue, 07 Jul 2020 18:47:07 +0000 Sarasota and Gainesville, Florida – New College of Florida and the University of Florida are working together to design an innovative dual degree program that would allow for the earning of a Bachelor of Arts degree in a liberal arts and science major from New College and a Bachelor of Science degree in an engineering major from UF. Students in this five-year program would complete their first two years at New College and the final three years at UF.   

“This collaboration aims to provide a unique educational opportunity for New College students to pursue their intellectual curiosity while preparing for their future career. Through this dual degree program with UF, students will benefit from a well-rounded education in the arts and sciences and the rigorous training of a top-notch engineering college,” said New College President Donal O’Shea.

“Our society is becoming increasingly complex, and people and groups are becoming more and more interdependent. We can no longer rely on the same way of doing things. Intricate and intertwined societal problems call for reimagined approaches and multidisciplinary skillsets. At the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering, we are committed to graduating New Engineers – those who are prepared to lead the charge in creative problem-solving. The goal of developing this dual-degree program with New College is to offer students more assets for their intellectual ‘toolkit’ to support their innovation and creativity. Employers everywhere will want to hire these graduates,” said Cammy R. Abernathy, Ph.D., Dean of the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering.      

“Our goal is to leverage the best assets of a small, residential liberal arts college with the resources of a large research university to develop the talented workforce that our state needs,” O’Shea said. “We will continue to respond to the evolving needs of Florida’s students, and the organizations that will employ them.” 

The program has been vetted by the faculty of both universities and has been submitted for review by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). We are hopeful for a spring 2021 implementation.

About New College of Florida

Founded in Sarasota in 1960, New College of Florida educates intellectually curious students for lives of great achievement. As the state’s only legislatively designated Honors College of Florida, New College offers 45 undergraduate majors in natural sciences, mathematics, social sciences, arts, and humanities, a master’s degree program in Data Science, and certificates in three pre-professional areas. The 110-acre residential campus on Sarasota Bay sits on the former estate of circus magnate Charles Ringling.

AAAS Fellow Juan Gilbert Builds Tech for Voting and to Make STEM More Diverse Thu, 25 Jun 2020 14:14:29 +0000 University of Florida and Sarasota County Renew Innovation Station Funding Wed, 03 Jun 2020 17:41:03 +0000 Gainesville, Florida – Sarasota County commissioners have unanimously approved extending funding, matched by UF funding, for University of Florida Innovation Station Sarasota County (UFIS-SC) through 2027.

UFIS-SC was formed in 2016 and is the first extension office for the UF Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering. It was developed to strengthen the region’s innovation economy, support the growth of high-tech, high-wage jobs, increase technology transfer and employee retention and foster start-up opportunities in the Sarasota area.

Sarasota County Commissioner Mike Moran voiced his support, “We know local industry is hungry for talent. It’s exciting to see University of Florida making a direct contribution to providing that talent.”

Since its launch, UF Innovation Station has placed over 100 UF engineering interns at more than 40 local companies, and arranged 12 capstone projects with companies in the region. UFIS-SC also ushered 41 students majoring in Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering and Digital Arts and Science into the Gator Engineering at State College of Florida program during the program’s first three years. And this year, Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering were added to the list of the program’s options to continue boosting the talent pipeline.

“The Gator Engineering at State College of Florida program has grown each year thanks to the support of the UF Innovation Station in student recruiting and internships,” said Dr. Carol Probstfeld, President, State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota. “Our partnership will continue to expand and educate even more of the engineers that help Manatee and Sarasota Counties grow and prosper.”

Dr. Cammy Abernathy, Dean of UF’s Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering stated, “As we near the four-year anniversary of the launch of UF Innovation Station, we are proud of what we have been able to accomplish with the support of Sarasota County and great partners like the Gulf Coast Community Foundation and the Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation.”

UF Innovation Station’s K-12 outreach has reached more than 3,000 students in the region’s elementary, middle and high schools through classroom support and outreach efforts. More than 450 local students have participated in field trips to University of Florida-Gainesville for hands-on activities, demonstrations and lab tours in the College of Engineering. Recognizing the importance of supporting teachers in order to build a talent pipeline, University of Florida is providing teacher professional development and training to 28 teachers from Sarasota County through a UF grant from the US Department of Education.

“This is my first year teaching coding classes, and it is so helpful to be able to incorporate sensor and probe technology into all of my courses, especially for students who really benefit from the hands-on approach to learning,” said Booker Middle School science teacher, Karen Hart.

The continued funding will bolster UF Innovation Station’s mission of economic development through growing talent and technology pipelines, industry collaboration, workforce development and K-12 initiatives.

Alumnus Gene Fraser Endows Teaching Professorships in the Engineering Leadership Institute Tue, 26 May 2020 14:43:50 +0000
From left: William J. “Bill” McElroy, holder of the Gene Fraser Teaching Professorship and Associate Director of the Engineering Leadership Institute; Gene Fraser (B.S. ChE ’76); Claudio Spiguel, Ph.D., holder of the Gene Fraser Teaching Professorship in the Engineering Leadership Institute

Gene Fraser (B.S., ChE ’76), is a Gator Engineer who understands the critical role well-trained engineering leaders play in today’s economy and in the society of the future. As part of his commitment to the importance of leadership education, Fraser has endowed two teaching professorships in the Engineering Leadership Institute at the UF Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering.

The Engineering Leadership Institute (ELI) prepares a diverse engineering student body with the mindset, knowledge and key competencies to become emerging engineering leaders. The institute’s curriculum focuses on delivering the skill sets needed to distinguish and prepare UF students for leadership roles wherever their careers take them. The ELI also provides opportunities for student engagement with top engineering leaders in academe, government and industry.

Fraser has a long personal history of leadership in engineering. A graduate of the Naval Test Pilot School, he served more than 27 years in key leadership positions on government programs in the U.S. Marine Corps, including command of an F/A-18 Fighter Strike Squadron. His final duty assignment was focused on developmental test and evaluation of air systems as the commanding officer of the U.S. Navy’s Test Wing Atlantic, Patuxent River, MD.

Prior to his retirement in December 2019, Fraser worked for the Northrop Grumman Corporation for 17 years, where he served as Vice President of Programs, Quality and Engineering. Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company, providing innovative systems, products and solutions in unmanned systems, cyber, C4ISR*, logistics and modernization to government and commercial customers worldwide.

Fraser earned a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Florida and is a graduate of the California Institute of Technology Program for Strategic Marketing of Technology. He is a life member of both the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and Society of Women Engineers. Fraser is a former board member of the Defense Acquisition Board of Visitors, and he also served on the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International board of directors. He is the current board president for RoboNation, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization focused on STEM and workforce development through robotics. Fraser is additionally a recipient of the Society of Women Engineers’ Rodney D. Chipp National Award, which recognizes men who have made significant contributions to the acceptance and advancement of women in engineering.

The two professorships made possible by Fraser’s endowment will be held by faculty of the Institute: Dr. Claudio Spiguel and ELI Associate Director Bill McElroy.

The engineering college at UF was one of the pioneers in teaching leadership as part of its engineering programs. The ELI curriculum also includes a course on engineering ethics and professionalism, as engineers are increasingly called forth to tackle thorny societal issues in addition to providing technical know-how and solutions. This endowment helps ensure that these courses continue to be available to UF engineering students.

“Gene's gift underscores the importance of teaching our students how to be leaders in the practice of engineering in an increasingly complex and interconnected global economy. Today’s New Engineers need more than the technical skills essential to solving the intricate problems we face as a society,” said Cammy R. Abernathy, Ph.D., Dean of the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering. “We offer Gene our deepest thanks for partnering with us toward fulfilling this critical mission of the college.”

*Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance

“Gene’s gift underscores the importance of teaching our students how to be leaders in the practice of engineering in an increasingly complex and interconnected global economy. Today’s New Engineers need more than the technical skills essential to solving the intricate problems we face as a society.”Cammy R. Abernathy, Ph.D., Dean of the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering

Holders of the Gene Fraser Endowed Teaching Professorships at the Engineering Leadership Institute

Claudio Spiguel

Claudio Spiguel, Ph.D., is the holder of the first of the Gene Fraser Teaching Professorships in the Engineering Leadership Institute. He is a Professor of Practice at the ELI, where he teaches courses on ethics and professionalism.

Dr. Spiguel brings a wealth of industry and government experience to the Institute and the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering, having retired as Corporate Vice President, Chief Information Officer, and Board Member of Zeneca, Inc. (then AstraZeneca), a global pharmaceutical company, and having been the industry’s Information Management Liaison to the Federal Government through the Food and Drug Administration.

In addition to a prior adjunct assignment with the ELI, Spiguel has held previous academic appointments with the University of Delaware, the University of Michigan, and the University of Sao Paulo (Brazil).

Dr. Spiguel holds a Ph.D. and a M.Sc. in Computer & Communication Sciences from the University of Michigan and two B.S. degrees, in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, from the University of Sao Paulo (Brazil).

William J. “Bill” McElroy

Bill McElroy is the Associate Director of the Engineering Leadership Institute. In addition to administrative duties for the Institute, he develops and teaches courses in engineering leadership, advanced engineering leadership, and engineering ethics and professionalism.

McElroy is a licensed professional engineer (Florida) with a 42-year history of private and public sector engineering experiences throughout a wide variety of water resources and environmental engineering disciplines. His career included serving as Vice-President and Area Manager for CH2M HILL’s (now Jacobs Engineering Group) Gainesville, Florida office, where he oversaw operations for a staff of approximately 200 multi-disciplined engineers, scientists, and technicians during the last 9 years of his consulting engineering career.

McElroy holds a Master’s degree from the University of Florida, with an undergraduate background in earth sciences and environmental engineering.

UF Mobilizes Campus, Exactech Expertise to Make Vital COVID-19 Nasal Swabs Thu, 21 May 2020 18:01:07 +0000

This story was originally posted on UF Health news.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When University of Florida Health needed a massive supply of nasal swabs for expanded COVID-19 testing, the solution was right on campus and just across town.

It came from Forrest J. Masters, Ph.D., P.E., a professor and the associate dean for research and facilities at UF’s Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering. Working with the 3D printing lab at UF’s Marston Science Library and Gainesville orthopaedic implant maker Exactech, the group is making 100,000 swabs for UF Health.

On March 30, officials with the UF Health pathology department approached Masters about the possibility of producing nasal swabs. Masters and his team found that an existing 3D printed nasopharyngeal swab design could be produced locally and quickly.

The design for the 3D-printed swab was developed by the University of South Florida, Northwell Health and 3D printer manufacturer Formlabs. David P. Norton, Ph.D., UF’s vice president for research, helped pave the way by rapidly securing the manufacturing rights for the swab design.

Randell Duggins, innovative media facilitator at the Marston Science Library’s 3D printing lab, began researching the requirements for mass-producing the swabs. The swabs needed to be produced in a certified medical device production facility to meet UF Health’s needs and federal guidelines. Among the few qualified local firms was Exactech, a manufacturer of bone and joint restoration products. Exactech was co-founded by Gary Miller (B.S. ME ’70, Ph.D. ’77 Mechanical), a UF engineering alumnus and benefactor of the engineering college and the university.

A lab worker holds 3D-printed nasal swabsWithin days, Scott Powell, operations manager for the Powell Family Structures and Materials Laboratory, part of UF’s department of civil and coastal engineering, had gathered every available Formlabs 3D printer he could find, on campus and off, for production.

By April 19, UF personnel were inside Exactech preparing for production.

“Clearly, there was a sense of urgency to get this done and everyone pulled together. It’s been great to work across the UF campus and the community. That’s what allowed us to move so quickly,” Masters said.

The process itself is fairly simple: A tank filled with resin feeds a 3D printer. About 15 hours later, a batch of 324 swabs emerges. The swabs are then sent to UF Health for final sterilization and packaging. At Exactech’s Northwest Gainesville headquarters, a sterile lab has 14 printers producing the swabs. By May 4, production capacity had reached approximately 4,500 swabs per day, and maximum daily output may reach 7,200.

Exactech loaned four 3D printers to the cause, provided production space at its facility and supplied a team of nine people to establish everything required for a fully functional production line. The company also shared its proficiency in 3D printing, quality testing, manufacturing process documentation and working through details with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Those capabilities helped to expedite the nasal swab production.

“We went from a three-hour setup time for each printing batch to just 30 minutes,” Duggins said.

The 3D printing process also offers a significant advantage over conventional manufacturing because the swabs can be produced locally using computer-assisted design software and compact printers, said Robin Barney, Exactech’s senior vice president of operations and supply chain.

For a company with long, deep ties to UF, collaborating on a critical project was particularly gratifying, Exactech officials said.

“This project is a welcome and timely continuation of the long-standing relationship between UF and Exactech. Our founders — orthopaedic surgeon Bill Petty, M.D., and biomedical engineer Gary Miller, Ph.D., — were faculty and research colleagues in the College of Medicine prior to starting Exactech in 1985. As we have grown, we have naturally gained many UF alumni on our team and the ongoing collaboration comes naturally,” said Priscilla Bennett, vice president of corporate marketing and communication at Exactech.

The availability of 3D printers was also critical for increasing production capacity. Several UF engineering departments loaned their printers — the department of chemical engineering (two printers), the department of computer & information science & engineering (one printer) and the department of civil & coastal engineering (three printers) — and UF Health Jacksonville loaned one printer. Norton also authorized the purchase of three additional printers as production plans were finalized.

“When UF Health asked us to explore alternatives to obtain more swabs to increase testing for the coronavirus, we were very pleased to learn that Exactech could help us quickly stand up an operation,” Masters said. “Our community is fortunate to have such excellent resources and expertise in place. On top of this, we have had total commitment from every stakeholder every step of the way. You can’t expect anything better than this outcome.”

UF and Exactech have a 30-year history of collaboration on education, innovation and health care.

Exactech was founded in 1985 by orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Bill Petty, his wife Betty, and biomedical engineer Gary Miller (B.S. ME ’70, Ph.D. ’77 Mechanical). While faculty and research colleagues at the UF College of Medicine’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Petty and Miller collaborated with several orthopaedic device companies and thought they saw some things the industry could do differently, and better. They wanted to focus their vision on creating products and services that would make a difference in the quality of care provided to patients suffering from joint diseases like arthritis.

With global headquarters in Gainesville, Exactech now has more than 700 employees who design, develop, manufacture and distribute innovative orthopaedic implants and surgical instrumentation for patients undergoing shoulder, knee, hip and spine surgery. The company’s products are distributed in more than 35 countries.

Collaborations between Exactech and UF include:

  • UF surgeons and faculty partner with Exactech to develop the latest advancements in total joint replacement surgery and to conduct clinical research.
  • Orthopaedic surgeons from around the world observe UF surgeons and gain hands-on experience with Exactech products in UF’s surgical skills labs.
  • Exactech sponsors seminars for UF College of Medicine orthopaedic surgery residents and fellows.
  • The Gary Miller, PhD, Biomechanics Laboratory, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.
  • The Bill Petty, MD, Endowment in Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, College of Medicine.
  • Exactech internships, tours, course support and class projects for UF students.
    Tuition reimbursement to help Exactech employees earn degrees from UF
  • Careers for a substantial number of UF graduates
Gulf Coast Community Foundation and UF Innovation Station-Sarasota County Continue to Build Talent Pipeline Thu, 07 May 2020 14:38:01 +0000 The COVID-19 pandemic did not slow down the momentum of engineering students seeking internships this summer. A number of students from Gator Engineering at State College of Florida and from the UF Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering will be doing internships and work-study programs with companies and other organizations in the Sarasota-Manatee county area this summer. Some students will be working remotely, just like many full-time employees in local businesses, while others will be starting their experiences later than usual, as the economy begins to reopen.

Gulf Coast Community Foundation is helping make these internships possible through a $40,000 grant given to the UF Innovation Station-Sarasota County (UFIS-SC). The funds will supplement student summer stipends at regionally based internships. The goal of the internship program at UFIS-SC is to encourage more talented young people to explore career opportunities in the region’s tech and engineering sectors. “With its burgeoning tech scene, Sarasota County is positioning itself as a city of choice among recent college graduates, and this funding helps attract students to the area,” said Allen Carlson, Regional Director of UFIS-SC.

Gulf Coast has been working with UF since the university established its first engineering extension station in Sarasota County in 2016. In summer 2019, a $61,500 grant from Gulf Coast provided support to 19 of the 41 engineering interns UFIS-SC brought to the Sarasota County area. The students used the stipends for expenses like food, lodging, and transportation during their assignments, and even to help defray tuition costs in the new school year. Together with the stipend provided by UFIS-SC, the internship program attracted more innovative young men and women to the region, helping strengthen the talent pipeline necessary to vitalize the area’s tech economy.

Trevor Poole

Sustainability and the Built Environment student Trevor Poole

Trevor Poole, a Sustainability and the Built Environment student at UF, began his college education in the Gator Engineering at State College of Florida program after attending Venice High School in Sarasota County. He described his internship with Sarasota County Government:  “My summer 2019 internship was an exceptional opportunity to work for Sarasota County Government. If it weren’t for the stipend to stay in Sarasota County, I would have strongly considered going elsewhere, as I had a few other options available at the time. Because of the stipend, I took the opportunity to intern with Sarasota County Government, and it has paid off in remarkable ways. I’ve made amazing connections within Sarasota County, was able to experience real world planning work, and was able to build up technical and soft skills that I may not have had the opportunity to get anywhere else. I am extremely thankful for the opportunities my internship and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation stipend have provided me.”

UF Civil Engineering student Robert Hallaren, from Riverview High School, Sarasota, has benefited from the Gulf Coast stipend for the past two years. He said, “In summer of 2018, I received the stipend for the first time; and it influenced my decision to return to Sarasota and intern at CDM Smith in 2019. I hope to be granted a stipend for a Sarasota-based internship again for summer 2020. I have had an incredible time with the engineering and construction professionals at CDM Smith since my 2019 internship and intend on working there full time after I graduate.”

Hallaren added, “This stipend went a long way toward my transportation and food costs during the summer. Without the stipend, I do not know if I would have even returned home during the summer of 2018, and now I am very thankful I did! I also believe that this stipend is a great investment for engineering companies in the Sarasota County region. I know many fellow engineering students who are confined to working or interning in their hometowns due to financial constraints. This stipend would give many bright, incredible Gator Engineering students the opportunity to see all that the Sarasota region has to offer.”

The additional grant of $40,000 for 2020 will help local students from the Gator Engineering at State College of Florida program recognize the many existing opportunities in their own backyard. It will also bring some out-of-area UF students to the region for the first time, acquainting even more talented future professionals with what West Central Florida has to offer in terms of career growth, sea-side ambiance and work-life balance.

Kyle Koughan

Civil Engineering student Kyle Koughan

In addition to the stipends, Gulf Coast has helped to fund an Engineering Innovation minor at UF that comes with tuition forgiveness for students who relocate to the Gulf Coast region to work after they graduate. Another UF Civil Engineering student, Kyle Koughan, a graduate of St. Stephens Episcopal School, Bradenton, highlighted his experience with the program: “The Gulf Coast stipend was also the reason I learned of and completed the Engineering Innovation Minor at UF. Not only does it help me stand out amongst job candidates, the classes I’ve taken have helped me become a much more-well-rounded engineer. I’ve learned cutting edge techniques for product development/innovation, developed business/entrepreneurial skills, and gained valuable presentation experience.”

“Strong partnerships such as this one between the community and the state’s premier R-1 research university highlight what the people of the state of Florida can accomplish in establishing a solid base for innovation and technology that will transform the future of our society,” said Carlson.

“The Innovation Station has become a key player in the effort to shift our region’s economic base away from traditional service-based sectors and toward creative and innovative industries,” said Mark Pritchett, President/CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation. “By investing in these internships, we can provide more opportunities for home-grown students to build successful careers here and shine the spotlight on our region’s employers for UF talent from elsewhere.”

About Gulf Coast Community Foundation

For 25 years, together with its donors, Gulf Coast Community Foundation has transformed its region through bold and proactive philanthropy. Gulf Coast is a public charity that was created in 1995 through the sale of the Venice Hospital. Since then, it has become the philanthropic home of nearly 1,000 families, individuals, organizations, and businesses that have established charitable funds there, and has invested over $370 million in grants in the areas of health and human services, civic and economic development, education, arts and culture, and the environment. Learn more at

Industrial & Systems Engineering Student Wins Big in 2020 Big Idea Competition Thu, 07 May 2020 14:00:25 +0000 Students from the Herbert Wertheim College of engineering swept all four top honors in the 2020 Big Idea Gator Business Plan Competition, sponsored by Warrington College of Business. Sheldon Barrett, who graduates this spring with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial and Systems Engineering, took home the first prize of $25,000.  Barrett founded and leads Cocovana, a tropical lifestyle company that promotes a healthier lifestyle and sustainability.

Read more about the competition and all the winners.