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By Nikki Cabus

FAU professor awarded grant to enhance opportuities for those with disabilties

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Florida Atlantic University received funding from the National Science Foundation that will support a project that aims to provide digital maps to improve accessibility and navigation for persons with disabilities.

The Center for Sensing, Monitoring, Analytics, Remote, and Technology (SMART) Health, will facilitate the use of engineering and computer-science technologies to enable state of the art patient-centered health care, early detection of human health problems, and better quality of life; the center will support interdisciplinary education and training for “jobs of the future”- careers at the intersection of technology with medicine, nursing, public health, and human biology; the center will stimulate partnership with industry and foundations around the smart health technologies and informatics.

 

Dr. Ted Conway, Research Professor with the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in the College of Engineering and Affiliating Faculty with the FAU Center for SMART Health, has been awarded Phase 2 Funding from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Convergence Accelerator Program to further develop a digital app to help persons with disabilities.  He is a member of the five-Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI) research team that combines complementary expertise to create a more robust approach to address the challenges associated with the research project.  His Co-PI team consists of:

  • Dr. Ted Conway, Research Professor in the College of Engineering and Computer Science at Florida Atlantic University.  Expertise: Mechanical & Biomechanical Engineering and Disability Community Outreach.
  • Dr. Vinod Namboodiri, Professor in the College of Engineering and Applied Science and the College of Health at Lehigh University. Expertise: Artificial Intelligence and Data Acquisition
  • Dr. Siny Joseph, Professor in the College of Agriculture at Kansas State University.  Expertise: Economic Analysis
  • Dr. Patricio Vela, Professor in the College of Engineering at Georgia Tech.  Expertise: Robotic Systems & Controls.
  • Dr. Nils Hakansson, Professor in the College of Engineering at Wichita State University. Expertise: Biomedical Engineering and Disability Community Outreach.

MABLE: Mapping for Accessibility in BuiLt Environments provides persons with disabilities independence to experience large events, conferences and educational programs.  Using crowdsensing, AI and robotics, MABLE empowers individuals with responsive maps and turn-by-turn instructions through a digital app to help them navigate indoor environments successfully. Key users include those with visual or mobility impairments, such as people with low vision and wheelchair users, as well as other persons with planning and navigation assistance needs.

Conway’s team was one of 16 teams that participated in Phase 1 of the NSF’s Convergence Accelerator, Track H: Enhancing Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities.  At the end of Phase 1, the teams participated in a formal pitch and proposal evaluation.  In December 2023, the NSF selected MABLE and five other projects to move forward into Phase 2, investing $30 million across all projects with up to $5 million in funding for each project.

In Phase 2, Conway and his team will continue to apply Convergence Accelerator fundamentals to develop solution prototypes and to build a sustainability model to continue impact beyond NSF support.  By the end of the 36-month Phase 2 effort, MABLE is expected to provide a high-impact solution that addresses a societal need at scale.

Conway’s project and Convergence Accelerator funding connect directly with the core focus of the FAU Center for Smart Health to “… facilitate the use of engineering and computer-science technologies to … support interdisciplinary education and training…; the center will stimulate partnership with industry and foundations around the smart health technologies and informatics.”

The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports science and engineering in all 50 states and U.S. territories. NSF was established in 1950 by Congress to promote the progress of science, advance the national health, prosperity and welfare, and secure the national defense. NSF investments account for about 25% of federal support to America’s colleges and universities for basic research: research driven by curiosity and discovery.

“A convergence approach between researchers, innovators, and persons with disabilities spanning organizations and communities across multiple sectors is crucial to ensure these NSF-funded solutions address barriers to employment, freedom of movement and quality of life for persons with disabilities, said  Douglas Maughan, head of the NSF Convergence Accelerator program.  ”

The selected Phase 2 teams are fostering strong partnerships to ensure their use-inspired solutions assist a wide range of people.”

The NSF’s Convergence Accelerator transitions basic research and discovery into practice through innovation processes like human-centered design, user discovery and team science, as well as integration of multidisciplinary research and partnerships.  By making timely investments, such as Conway’s project, the Convergence Accelerator aims to solve high-risk societal challenges through use-inspired convergence research.

By Nikki Cabus

Florida Atlantic’s Tech Runway announced its 13th cohort companies

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FAU Tech Runway® recently accepted 13 companies to participate in the 13th cohort of its Venture Program.

The Venture Program provides the most promising startups and talented entrepreneurs in South Florida with an opportunity to join a year-long program that offers resources from FAU’s Innovation and Business Development pipeline, entrepreneurial instruction, structured team-based mentoring, networking, marketing and capital-raising assistance, co-working space, events, intern support and other vital programs.

Companies accepted into the Venture Program must have strategic alignment with FAU’s research focus areas, including drone technologies; educational technologies; environmental science; marine science; ocean engineering; neuroscience; healthy aging; big data analytics; artificial intelligence; machine learning; cyber security; sensing; and smart systems.

The 13 companies in Venture Class 13 are:

  • Alumni Direct, LLC removes the noise from other networking platforms by bringing members into one centralized location. Alumni Direct makes it easy to network and connect in communities dedicated to a university, sport, Greek organization or business.
  • BiDR TV LLC represents a groundbreaking venture in the realm of e-commerce, seamlessly merging online and traditional retail experiences to redefine the consumer shopping journey with a laser focus on enhancing user satisfaction, safety and engagement.
  • BookMark’d is an AI college assistance platform that helps college students on campus find affordable college materials, academic advising for navigating course selection, and access to receive 24/7 AI tutoring for their exact course code.
  • ByeUni LLC is a website and app that is a cross between LinkedIn and crowdfunding. It allows college students and college-bound students to post and communicate with followers and to collect money/donations from them.
  • Digiagee is a digital agency via a smartphone that enables users to reach the right people with the right message in five minutes. It is custom ad alchemy and is AI/ML powered.
  • GrowFrom Inc. is the world’s first free platform for personal growth and development. On GrowFrom users can store goals and get useful tools to help stay focused on them throughout the week.
  • Hello Sunshine LLC: Take on Trades is building the new generation of trade workers through a new method of engaging trade companies with the young people who will comprise its future workforce.
  • Neurodiverse Educational Testing (N.E.T.) offers advanced AI-driven assessments for neurodiversity, facilitating early diagnosis and tailored support for children. N.E.T. enhances 504 education plans, empowering families and educators to address the unique needs of neurodiverse students.
  • Property Vue Media, LLC provides site documentation and management solutions using digital twin technology for the construction and utility sectors.
  • SDB_Automate provides software services that revolutionize ocean depth determination and navigation using satellite images and AI technology to enhance safety in navigation, support sustainable fishing practices, and improve water tourism.
  • Shorts IQ, Inc. is a short videos machine that customizes storytelling templates from performing videos based on brand and necessities.
  • Stone Pine Marketing and Productions LLC is a marketing agency with an in-house video production team. It tailors services specifically for the needs of nonprofits and offers discounted, affordable rates for these organizations.
  • Vektor Freight LLC is a logistics company that provides airline-like speed at the cost of ground transport. Through its network of relay points, combined with AI, it achieves “continuous flow trucking” that cuts truckload delivery times up to 50 percent.

Venture Class 13 participants join a robust community of fellow entrepreneurs, mentors, investors, instructors and top-level support professionals.

FAU Tech Runway® is a public-private partnership formed to incubate and accelerate early-stage technology-based companies, under the purview of FAU’s Division of Research . Applications for the next cycle of the Venture Program are now currently being accepted.

For more information on FAU Tech Runway®, visit techrunway.fau.edu.

By Nikki Cabus

Global Ventures at Florida Atlantic™ Welcomes Four New Recruits Into Second-Stage Incubator

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Global Ventures at Florida Atlantic™ is excited to announce the addition of four new company recruits. 

A leading international soft landing incubator based at the Research Park at Florida Atlantic in Boca Raton, Florida, Global Ventures provides support and resources to post-startup, or second-stage companies, that have established themselves in their industry and are ready to scale up to the next level of growth. They seek to assist technology-based companies with an interest in developing links to FAU that have achieved approximately $1 million in annual sales and employ at least six (6) people, as well as graduates of FAU Tech Runway®.

The new arrivals are:

  • Fenway Group, led by CEO Martin Santora. The Fenway Group crafts customized solutions that empower businesses to take charge of their digital transformation journey, giving students real world experiences as they go through their educational careers.
  • InfraSite, led by CEO Vitaliy Pereverzev, is revolutionizing the digital infrastructure landscape with innovative solutions that seamlessly integrate 5G, data centers and edge computing facilities into urban environments. Its innovative Smart Vault solution allows for the safe and sustainable placement of digital infrastructure practically anywhere.
  • Salus Water, led by president Marcelo Costa, is a company specialized in residential water filtration and purification systems. With a strong presence in the market, the company is recognized for offering cutting-edge technology and providing a comprehensive solution to ensure the quality of the water you and your family consume daily.
  • Signalic, LLC, led by founder & CEO Arash Andalib, is a biomedical tech venture dedicated to personalized pain management solutions using data-driven approaches, to reduce the number of individuals suffering pain or addicted to opioids.

The new recruits, who are poised to make a significant impact in their respective industries, were screened through Global Ventures’ thorough application process and were selected based on their innovative approaches, proven records, interest and ability to partner with Florida Atlantic University, as well as their potential for growth. The group includes companies from a variety of industries, including software technology, healthcare, and smart cities infrastructure. These entrepreneurs will have access to a range of resources, including mentorship, networking opportunities, and funding guidance as well as facilitated introductions to specialized Florida Atlantic faculty and students, to help them scale their businesses to become multi-million-dollar enterprises.

“We are thrilled to welcome these talented individuals and companies to our second-stage incubator program at the Research Park at Florida Atlantic,” said Ryan Lilly, Global Ventures Program Manager.

“Our goal is to provide a supportive and collaborative environment for these promising companies to thrive and succeed. We believe that their innovative approaches and track records hold significant potential for South Florida’s economic growth and make a significant impact in the business world. We are excited to be a part of their journey.”

A South Florida Tech Hub member, Fenway Group has been traveling back and forth from their headquarters in Texas for the past few years in an effort to learn about the South Florida community, forge local relationships and support regional tech talent efforts. Their move to open a South Florida office is a huge step for the company and an important resource for the South Florida tech community.

Fenway Group help companies tackle their most ambitious projects and build new capabilities. Analyze, architect, build and co-create. Their emphasis on delivering solutions entails serving clients with a purpose and fostering novel ideas and innovation. One of those deliver approaches is their FenwayPipeline™ for technology services integrated with a talent acquisition strategy where companies can incorporate next-generation technologists whose skills are specifically tailored to relevant technology stacks and environments.

The international soft landing, second-stage incubator program has a proven track record of success, with several of its alumni going on to long term partnerships at Florida Atlantic and retaining significant presences in the Research Park at FAU. With the addition of these new recruits, Global Ventures is confident that the program will continue to foster the growth and success of second stage businesses in South Florida. The incubator is committed to supporting and nurturing these entrepreneurs as they work towards building successful and sustainable businesses.

“Global Ventures and the Research Park at FAU are proud to welcome these new recruits to our second-stage incubator program and we look forward to facilitating their continued growth. The program is a testament to the thriving tech entrepreneurial ecosystem in South Florida and our commitment of the Research Park at FAU to support and foster the growth of innovative businesses,” stated Andrew Duffell, president of the Research Park at FAU.

Global Ventures at Florida Atlantic™ will host its annual open house on March 20th at 5:30 PM for the community to meet its entrepreneurs and learn more about their growing companies.

For more information about the Global Ventures at Florida Atlantic™ international second-stage incubator program, please visit www.ResearchParkFAU.com/Global-Ventures. Rare vacancies from 100 sq. ft. – 1,000 sq. ft. are on offer as a result of recent successful graduations.

By Nikki Cabus

Research Park at FAU recently announced the launch of The Smartest Place initiative

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The Research Park at Florida Atlantic University® (the “Research Park at FAU”) recently announced the launch of The Smartest Place, an initiative to partner with FAU’s Institute for Sensing and Embedded Networks Systems Engineering (“I-SENSE”), creating a physical place for emerging IoT technologies to blend with real-time infrastructure, testing new technologies and locate deployment teams addressing common objectives.

Strategically located in Boca Raton, at the center of South Florida – the ninth largest metro area in the US – and adjacent to FAU’s flagship campus and leveraging a multi-million dollar, multi-year National Science Foundation (“NSF”) Engineering Research Center (“ERC”) grant to Florida Atlantic University along with four other collaborating universities and colleges, to create a rich ecosystem of streetscape applications built upon real-time, hyper-local intelligence to advance livable, safe, and inclusive communities, the Research Park at FAU will become a natural home and living test bed for the next generation of real-world smart infrastructure.

“We are excited to launch The Smartest Place initiative,” said Andrew Duffell, president of the Research Park at FAU.

“We’re determined to bring the right partners to the Research Park at FAU and will be providing common shared office and laboratory space which will be set aside for participating smart infrastructure and IoT technology companies to use on a part-time or full-time basis.  In addition, we will aide in the deployment and trial use partners’ solutions and technology.”

The Research Park at FAU is creating a place for emerging IoT technologies to blend with real-world infrastructure, offering flexible office space to become not only a place to trial technologies but a place for companies to locate engineering and deployment teams in collaboration with their peers to address the needs and objectives of the NSF grant.

The Research Park at Florida Atlantic University® is home to technology companies and research-based organizations working to support the research and development activities of Florida Atlantic University and to foster economic development and broaden the economic base of Broward and Palm Beach counties. The Research Park at FAU hosts Global Ventures, an international soft-landing center for second-stage technology companies and FAU Tech Runway, a South Florida public-private partnership that serves as a hub to accelerate technology development and incubate startup companies.

The Research Park at FAU is a 70-acre destination for R&D companies to thrive, established in 1985, it is widely regarded as South Florida’s laboratory for new entrepreneurial ideas and technologies. The Research Park at FAU is governed by the Florida Atlantic Research and Development Authority, an independent special district created by Palm Beach and Broward counties in partnership with Florida Atlantic University, organized under Chapter 159, Part V, Florida Statues.

A primary benefit of locating in the Research Park at FAU is the ability to collaborate with FAU’s research faculty and student body: Smartest Place partners will have the opportunity to work with I-SENSE faculty and equipment as well as commercial real-world spaces to deploy and study the outcomes of the technology.

“The Research Park at FAU has been a critical partner for I-SENSE since the institute’s inception in 2015. Today, we could not be more excited to see this partnership strengthened even further. The Smartest Place initiative reflects an incredible opportunity to deliver new tools and services to Research Park at FAU tenants, while fostering the future of public space, public interest technologies through the new NSF ERC for Smart Streetscapes (CS3). Access to this proving ground is an absolute game changer,” stated Jason Hallstrom, Ph.D., Founding Executive Director of I-SENSE (currently on IPA assignment).

FAU’s College of Engineering is among the top three fastest improving engineering colleges in the United States, sitting in the increasingly important South Florida marketplace. South Florida is one of the fastest growing regions in the United States, rich in diversity and with a technology aware population in close proximity to the Latin America markets.

The IoT M2M Council, or “IMC,” is the largest community of qualified IoT adopters constantly measuring the pulse of their 25,000 rank-and-file members. They will be partnering with Florida Atlantic University. The IMC is comprised of companies providing solutions from all parts of the global Iot/M2M ecosystem as Sustaining Members. The organization has brought together large-scale connectivity providers, more dedicated network operators, systems integrators, equipment manufacturers, and chipware maker giants.

“Our data shows that the biggest hurdle the industry faces is getting IoT projects from proof-of-concept to larger scale, so the IoT sector needs more initiatives like The Smartest Place at Research Park at Florida Atlantic University®,” says IMC Executive Director Keith Kreisher. “We look forward to cooperating with industry participants of the Research Park at FAU initiative by providing access to IMC’s digital media channels and events in order to share The Smartest Place research, use cases, and success stories.”

IMC Adopter Members are qualified individuals that deploy IoT/M2M technology at companies as diverse as Fedex, Hyundai, Siemens Medical, Tata Group, Saudi Aramco, and the US Department of Defense. As of this writing, the IMC can claim to be the largest and fastest-growing IoT/M2M organization in the world, with over 25,000 Adopter Members on four continents, and growing at a rate of 300 Adopters per week.

The Iot Evolution Expo team will also be partnering with Florida Atlantic University. The recently hosted FAU at the expo in February as part of the larger annual ITEXPO to help make the announcement publicly. From IoT location solutions to securing the supply chain, IoT Evolution focuses on the IoT use cases around automation, security ESG, healthcare and more. There focus has been on AI and analytics and the role that plays in launching new innovative IoT solutions.

“The team from IoT Evolution Expo has been dedicated to fostering and growing the IoT ecosystem and South Florida market for many years. As the organizers of IoT Evolution, the industry’s longest continuously running annual trade show and educational event focused on IoT held each year in Fort Lauderdale, we were pleased to host the Research Park at FAU as they made their announcement from our keynote stage,” said Carl Ford, co-founder of IoT Evolution and conference co-chair. “As a trusted partner in the IoT ecosystem, IoT Evolution is delighted to collaborate with the Research Park at FAU as it creates a South Florida destination for IoT innovators.”

Interested IoT or smart infrastructure companies should contact Ryan Lilly at SmartestPlace@Research-Park.org or by telephone at +1 561-416-6092 Ext. 1401.

By Nikki Cabus

FAU announces winners of 2023 ‘Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) Competition’

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Florida Atlantic University has announced the winners of the 7th annual Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) Competition.

Hosted by the Graduate College, this year was the first live and in-person ‘s 3MT® Competition since the pandemic. It was held at the Boca Raton Campus Student Union with students, faculty, and the public in attendance.

Developed by the University of Queensland (UQ) in 2008, the idea for 3MT came about at a time when the state of Queensland was suffering severe drought. To conserve water, residents were encouraged to time their showers, and many people had a three minute egg timer fixed to the wall in their bathroom. The then Dean of the Graduate School, Emeritus Professor Alan Lawson, put two and two together and the idea for the 3MT competition was born.

Since 2011 the popularity of the competition has increased, 3MT competitions are now held in over 900 universities across more than 85 countries worldwide.
In November 2013, the first Universitas 21 (U21) 3MT competition was held with several universities from around the world competing in a virtual competition. The 3MT® competition challenges graduate students around the world to pitch their research in only 3 minutes to a live audience.

FAU’s 3MT® is a venue for graduate students from various disciplines to interact with one another and discuss their research and its implications. The competition provides an opportunity for undergraduates, alumni, industry partners, various on-campus departments, institutions and the community to gain exposure to high-level, cutting-edge research at FAU.

The goal of the 3MT® competition is for FAU graduate students from all colleges and departments to cultivate the ability to explain their research, including both breadth and significance, in a language appropriate to an audience containing both specialists and non-specialists in three minutes or less. The 3MT® competition provides FAU graduate students with the opportunity to sharpen their professional development skills, reignite their passion for discovery, promote preeminent research, and foster community.

  • Skills development for research candidates
    Participating in 3MT develops academic, presentation and research communication skills, while developing research candidates’ ability to effectively explain their research in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.
  • Building research culture in universities
    3MT provides a valuable opportunity for HDR candidates to come together (live or virtually), get to know one another and talk about their research. It also provides a supportive environment in which schools, institutes and universities can provide presentation skills training.
  • Building external relations for the university
    3MT winners may go on to represent their university at national and international 3MT competitions which provides an excellent networking and professional development opportunity. Previous 3MT finalists have benefited from invitations to a variety of other networking events following their participation in the competition.

At FAU’s annual competition, over $30,000 in scholarship prizes are awarded annually to winners from both the Preliminary Rounds and the Championship. Distinguished FAU community members serve judges and a public vote determines the People’s Choice winners. FAU’s 3MT® Championship Award is generously sponsored through the Dr. Eric H. Shaw 3MT® Championship Award Endowment Fund.

A panel of distinguished FAU community members determined the 2023 first-place, runner-up, and second runner-up championship winners. This year’s FAU 2023 3MT® Heat & Championship judging panel included: Dr. Stacy Volnick, President, Florida Atlantic University, Dr. Michele Hawkins, Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Larry Faerman, Vice President for Student Affairs and Nikki Cabus, Chief Executive Officer, South Florida Tech Hub. More than 200 online votes submitted by public viewers named the People’s Choice Award winner.

“Conducting research is a critical component of graduate education, and being able to effectively communicate the significance of that research to a broad audience is a valuable skill,” says William D. Kalies, Ph.D., interim dean of the Graduate College.

“The graduate students at Florida Atlantic perform impactful research, and the Graduate College is honored to support this annual competition and provide a platform for students to gain experience presenting their research to the public while having the opportunity to earn scholarships.”

A total of 51 graduate students pitched their research projects to a live audience with 19 of them awarded scholarship prizes in the championship round. The championship winners of the 2023 3MT® competition are:

FAU championship winner and recipient of the Dr. Eric H. Shaw 3MT® Championship Endowment Award* (tie)

Title: “From Poop to Parent: Examining Paternity in Dynamic Atlantic Spotted Dolphin Populations in the Bahamas”
Presented by: Hayley Knapp, Charles E. Schmidt College of Science
Faculty Advisor: John Baldwin, Ph.D.
Title: “Corrosion is in the Air”
Presented by: Ingrid Santillan Barragan, College of Engineering and Computer Science
Faculty Advisor: Francisco Presuel-Moreno, Ph.D.
FAU 3MT® runner-up and People’s Choice Award
Title: “So, You Wanna Build a Protein?”
Presented by: Amish Mishra, Charles E. Schmidt College of Science
Faculty Advisor: Francis Motta, Ph.D.
FAU 3MT® second runner-up
Title: “‘What Does A Surgeon Look Like?’: How Stereotypes May Negatively Impact Recruitment Into the Least Diverse Specialty in Medicine”
Presented by: Emmanuel McNeely, Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine
Faculty Advisor: Jennifer Caceres, Ph.D.

The two (We had a tie!) championship winners and recipients of the $2,500 Dr. Eric H. Shaw 3MT® Championship Award also will represent FAU at the Conference of Florida Graduate Schools at the University of Miami from April 17 to 19 and present their 3MT® research. For more information on FAU’s 3MT® competition or to see all submissions and heat winners, click here.

FAU professor awarded grant to enhance opportuities for those with disabilties
Florida Atlantic’s Tech Runway announced its 13th cohort companies
Global Ventures at Florida Atlantic™ Welcomes Four New Recruits Into Second-Stage Incubator
Research Park at FAU recently announced the launch of The Smartest Place initiative
FAU announces winners of 2023 ‘Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) Competition’