News | Powering the New Engineer https://www.eng.ufl.edu/newengineer News from Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering at the University of Florida Fri, 25 Sep 2020 19:01:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.1 Tehranipoor Honored at Virtual Standing InnOvation Event (UF Innovate) https://www.eng.ufl.edu/newengineer/honors-awards/tehranipoor-honored-at-virtual-standing-innovation-event-uf-innovate/ Fri, 25 Sep 2020 18:53:46 +0000 https://www.eng.ufl.edu/newengineer/?p=29283 Mark Tehranipoor, Ph.D.

Mark Tehranipoor, Ph.D., Intel Charles E. Young Preeminence Endowed Chair Professor in Cybersecurity in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, and director of FICS

Mark Tehranipoor, Ph.D., Intel Charles E. Young Preeminence Endowed Chair Professor in Cybersecurity in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, and director of FICS, leads a team of hardware and software engineers who have developed a superior reputation for securing electronics for government and industry. Dr. Tehranipoor received recognition at the virtual Standing InnOvation Awards for his group’s work on Nimbis software security models.

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UF Researchers Find Viable Viruses in Aerosols that Cause COVID-19 https://www.eng.ufl.edu/newengineer/research-innovation/uf-researchers-find-viable-viruses-in-aerosols-that-cause-covid-19/ Wed, 23 Sep 2020 17:10:33 +0000 https://www.eng.ufl.edu/newengineer/?p=29273 Originally published on the ESSIE website.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — New research from the University of Florida provides strong evidence that aerosol transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, may be possible.

Prior to these findings, which are in pre-print and have not undergone peer review, the virus had been detected in aerosols, but there was a lack of direct evidence that the particles were actually viable (“culturable”)1, so to date the World Health Organization and other public health agencies have not emphasized aerosol transmission in their public health protection and mitigation guidance.

A team of UF researchers, led by John Lednicky, Ph.D., and Chang-Yu Wu, Ph.D., found that SARS-CoV-2 in aerosols can be cultured, sparking the need to reevaluate current safety protocols to reduce transmission in indoor spaces.

The researchers collected air samples that contained culturable SARS-CoV-2 from the air of a hospital room with COVID-19 patients. The team used a unique virus aerosol sampler, co-developed with Aerosol Dynamics Inc., that gently collects airborne viruses and preserves their viability.

The sampler uses water vapor condensation-based technology to efficiently collect virus aerosols, accomplishing a task not possible using other devices. They were able to obtain viable viruses more than 15 feet away from the patient, contained within the room, and they matched the virus in the air to that in a nasal swab from that patient. Once the samples were collected, Lednicky, an expert virologist and aerobiologist, was able to isolate the virus in cell cultures, resolving the long-standing question of whether SARS-CoV-2 can remain viable in aerosols.

“The air we breathe is full of microorganisms. A pathogen that you breathe poses no harm if it is not alive. For example, non-viable, or ‘dead,’ viruses cannot cause COVID-19, just like a dead tiger can’t eat you. By showing that viable viruses are in the air, we show there is an inhalation risk. We are the first group to show this conclusively,” Lednicky said.

Importantly, virus was not located in hospital hallways or other areas, including the emergency room waiting room, showing the effectiveness of infection control practices.

The findings have stimulated fervent discussion. Virginia Tech’s Linsey Marr, Ph.D., a leading expert on airborne virus transmission, calls it the “smoking gun.”

“Our research opens a new door for analyzing outbreaks due to respiratory viruses. It is especially valuable for those involving asymptomatic individuals or those who have mild symptoms, who are often missed by current epidemiology and surveillance practices during assessments of outbreaks caused by respiratory viruses. That is because those people are typically not tested, yet may be seeding the air with infectious virus particles that pose a risk to others. Instead of relying on human specimens, aerosol sampling is a noninvasive and effective technique for collecting airborne respiratory viruses, and thus has many important and practical uses,” Wu said.

The key researchers of the multidisciplinary team include: Chang-Yu Wu, Ph.D., a professor in the Engineering School of Sustainable Infrastructure & Environment in the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering at UF; John Lednicky, Ph.D., a professor in the department of environmental and global health at the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions and a member of the UF Emerging Pathogens Institute; Michael Lauzardo, M.D., deputy director of the Emerging Pathogens Institute and J. Glenn Morris, M.D., director of the Emerging Pathogens Institute, both of whom are faculty members in the UF College of Medicine; and Thomas B. Waltzek, Ph.D., an associate professor in the department of infectious diseases & immunology at the UF College of Veterinary Medicine and a member of the Emerging Pathogens Institute.

1Viable: In virology, the term ‘viable’ is used instead of ‘live’.  To determine if virus is viable, it must be isolated (“cultured”) in a susceptible animal or in laboratory cell cultures.  Thus, if a virus is “culturable”, it is viable virus because it can invade a cell and complete its life cycle within the cell (it can invade the cells and replicate therein to form progeny virus particles that can go on to infect additional cells).

For further information on the study, visit https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.08.03.20167395v1.

UF Engineering School of Sustainable Infrastructure & Environment
Reba Liddy Hernandez
rhernandez@eng.ufl.edu

UF College of Public Health and Health Professions
Jill Pease
jpease@phhp.ufl.edu

UF Emerging Pathogens Institute
Nicolle Michaels Roberts
nicollemr@epi.ufl.edu

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Driven to Success https://www.eng.ufl.edu/newengineer/alumni-spotlight/driven-to-success/ Tue, 01 Sep 2020 14:53:59 +0000 https://www.eng.ufl.edu/newengineer/?p=29257 Edwin Marcial (BS, ECE ’92) owns and drives a few cars, mostly Porsches. Other people loan him their cars to drive, too. When he’s driving, he is often talking to CEO’s, CTO’s, and COO’s from some of America’s top companies about how they made their companies a success. The drives and the tech talk are captured on video for Marcial’s Techrides web site. He has interviewed leaders from Delta Airlines, Virgin Galactic, and Intercontinental Exchange, among other Fortune 500’s. He is interested in how they made their corporate imprint and shares the excitement with the many viewers on his site.

Edwin Marcial

Edwin Marcial

During the time of COVID-19, the rides have turned into podcasts, but Marcial looks forward to getting back on the road soon with others like himself who have accomplished the seemingly impossible to make a name for themselves and their corporate and academic brands. One of his most recent podcasts was with Cammy Abernathy, Ph.D., dean of the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering at his alma mater, the University of Florida. In addition to discussing the future direction the college is taking with the UF artificial intelligence (AI) university initiative, the work UF is doing to improve diversity in engineering, the challenge traditional universities face from skills-based training platforms and boot camps, and how students can best prepare to study and be successful in engineering, Marcial and Abernathy found a few moments to talk lightheartedly about a 1967 Ford Mustang the dean has in storage.

Marcial is a great example of following through and driving for success. Born in New York City and growing up in Miami from the age of 12, he arrived at the University of Florida not quite sure what he wanted to do. After four years, he had enough credits to graduate, except that they were spread out across a number of different majors; and according to his recollections, he unfortunately found himself on academic probation. He actually dropped out for a year, but those months spent waiting tables in Miami made him realize how important his education and a degree from UF were to him. He went back and got his B.S., this time solidly majoring in computer science and engineering.

However, that determined focus before graduation took another turn as he experimented to find his calling. For the first four years out of college, he worked for a large defense contractor in Florida, writing code for energy control systems. There, he learned the value of corporate structure in a big enterprise and how much good mentors can help shape a young engineer’s career; but he felt he was still missing something.

In 1996, he joined a small start-up of 30 people, the Continental Power Exchange (CPEX). The Atlanta based CPEX was building an electricity trading platform. When the initially struggling company was bought by California power plant builder and entrepreneur Jeff Sprecher, Marcial became one of six remaining people in the pared-down operation; and Sprecher made him the Chief Technology Officer. They started over, changed their name to Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), and the race was on to build an Internet based commodities trading platform competing with Enron, the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYME) and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange along the way (CME). Thirteen years later, ICE bought the New York Stock Exchange; and today they are worth more than $50 billion. Their success came thanks in large part to Marcial’s software development acuity and his ability to build and lead a team of 350 computer engineers and technicians who were dedicated to being the best financial market place in the industry.

When Marcial left the company in 2014 as Senior Vice President and founding CTO, ICE had grown from a small electric power trading exchange into a Fortune 500 company operating one of the largest financial marketplaces in the world. Yet he modestly says, “I felt like I had accomplished what I wanted to do at ICE, and I was ready to move on.” Today Marcial enjoys playing amateur baseball with the Atlanta Cigars, driving his cars, and flying drones. He brings balance to his life by advising and consulting with start-up companies, investing in some of them that show potential, and developing his production company for Techrides. His most rewarding investment, though, has been his involvement with the students at Year Up.

According to Year Up, a non-profit organization that helps underrepresented young adults gain access to sustainable careers, five million young adults in the U.S. actually do not have a stable career pathway to well-paid jobs, while 12 million jobs that require post-secondary education will go unfilled in the next decade. Year Up aims to close that divide by enabling these individuals aged 18-24 years old to move to meaningful careers in just one year. Marcial is a member of the Board of Directors for Year Up Atlanta, and he introduced to them the idea of adding software development and coding to their programs for training young people who have not had the traditional opportunities for higher education. For two years, he volunteered as an instructor at Year Up, and then he provided advanced training for select students while they were undergoing their internships.

“The internships are an important segment of the Year Up program, and part of what we do is to interest local businesses in taking the students on as interns during their last six months at Year Up,” Marcial said. “The response has been very favorable, and the program provides a clear and concrete path for companies to follow in promoting diversity, equity and inclusion.” He added, “The very best reward from being involved with Year Up comes when one of the students calls me up and tells me he or she has been hired by a company in a position that is making a real difference in their lives. These underrepresented young people are making good wages for the first time, and they are building their self-confidence in the business world.”

It is clear that his own journey, from wondering “What’s next?” in his younger days to the disciplined professional leading an unbeatable engineering team through the intricacies of daunting financial markets, has helped shape Marcial to become the perfect mentor for the next generation of youths who need to gain that first foothold as they step up and make their own impact in society.

“Nothing beats helping young people discover their innate abilities and seeing them follow their passions to be their best,” he said.

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Gilbert Creates inLine Ticketing System to Lower Health Risk When Voting https://www.eng.ufl.edu/newengineer/cise/gilbert-creates-inline-ticketing-system-to-lower-health-risk-when-voting/ Wed, 05 Aug 2020 16:25:39 +0000 https://www.eng.ufl.edu/newengineer/?p=29217 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.

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UF Announces $70 Million Artificial Intelligence Partnership with NVIDIA https://www.eng.ufl.edu/newengineer/research-innovation/uf-announces-70-million-artificial-intelligence-partnership-with-nvidia/ Tue, 21 Jul 2020 19:14:39 +0000 https://www.eng.ufl.edu/newengineer/?p=29201 Originally posted on news.ufl.edu

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.

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FICS Research Receives $7.8M to Help Make On-Chip Security Pervasive https://www.eng.ufl.edu/newengineer/research-innovation/fics-research-receives-7-8m-to-help-make-on-chip-security-pervasive/ Mon, 13 Jul 2020 13:58:38 +0000 https://www.eng.ufl.edu/newengineer/?p=29191 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.
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New College of Florida and University of Florida to Establish Dual Degree Program https://www.eng.ufl.edu/newengineer/engineering-education/new-college-of-florida-and-university-of-florida-to-establish-dual-degree-program/ Tue, 07 Jul 2020 18:47:07 +0000 https://www.eng.ufl.edu/newengineer/?p=29179 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.

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AAAS Fellow Juan Gilbert Builds Tech for Voting and to Make STEM More Diverse https://www.cise.ufl.edu/aaas-fellow-juan-gilbert-builds-tech-for-voting-and-to-make-stem-more-diverse/#new_tab Thu, 25 Jun 2020 14:14:29 +0000 https://www.eng.ufl.edu/newengineer/?p=29147 University of Florida and Sarasota County Renew Innovation Station Funding https://www.eng.ufl.edu/newengineer/news/university-of-florida-and-sarasota-county-renew-innovation-station-funding/ Wed, 03 Jun 2020 17:41:03 +0000 https://www.eng.ufl.edu/newengineer/?p=29097 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.

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Alumnus Gene Fraser Endows Teaching Professorships in the Engineering Leadership Institute https://www.eng.ufl.edu/newengineer/alumni-spotlight/alumnus-gene-fraser-endows-teaching-professorships-in-the-engineering-leadership-institute/ Tue, 26 May 2020 14:43:50 +0000 https://www.eng.ufl.edu/newengineer/?p=29069
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.

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