Interview to Dr. Ramiro Jordan, director of the Los Libertadores initiative of the Ibero American Science & Technology Education Consortium (ISTEC), an institution of which he is founder.
What is the Los Libertadores Initiative?
This Initiative was inspired by the work carried out by the liberators (“Libertadores”) that changed the history of the Region. Their visión was to integrate Latin America. With this initiative we pretend to create or enhance centers of excellence that are inter/multi/transdisciplinarions and their collaboration all interconnected to resolve grand challenges that no longer are a priority for a country, nor regional but have become global. We also encourage the horizontal collaboration among nations.
This initiative is a “common thread” effort that links all other initiatives, goals and objectives of ISTEC. Los Libertadores seeks to create a flexible network of electronic services (e-services) for education, information exchange, R&D and innovation, offer services for (social and business) entrepreneurships, as well as to provide ICTs infrastructure for social, cultural, political and economic development of Ibero America. Fort he start we promoted internationalization that recently is gaining ground in the academic world, NGOs, in industry, multilateral agencies, governments and individuals.
The Los Libertadores proposes to share worldwide expertise, facilitate distributed problem solving and create the critical mass needed for the development of international projects. We pretend to change the digital divide into digital opportunities “acting locally but thinking globally”. We can say that this initiative is the incubator of ideas for ISTEC and the mechanism to take an idea to the Marketplace. The figure below depicts all the essential components needed to créate the ecosystem we pretend to cbuild.
It fosters technology transfer and the development of social and business entrepreneurs through the implementation of “Centers of Excellence” – unique clusters of businesses and institutions (technology parks) that share common interests such as in health care complexes, micro and nanotechnology, biotechnology, energy and other multidisciplinary areas.
What is a Center of Excellence?
We define a Center of Excellence those highly specilized centers that you find in academic institutions that do quality research, technology parks, entrepreneurial centers, as well as innovative curricula that fosters cretivity, innovation and entrepreneurship.
What do you mean by Social and Business entrepreneurs?
We have identified two types of entrepreneurs that are essential for society. Th eones well now are the ondes that develop services or products that mayo r not use hightechnology but innovate. The social entrepreneurs are perhaps more imporrtant tan the business entrepreneurs because we need them to créate policies and legislatio that are necessary to créate and Foster ecosystems for inovation and entrepreneurrial activities.
What are the objectives of the initiative?
We want to Foster international collaboration through technology transfer and the development of social and business entrepreneurs. This can be accomplished by creating centers of excellence all interconnected that share common interest in complex thematic areas with high societal impact like in areas such as medicine and healthcare, Smart cities, micro and nanotechnology, biotechnology, energy, water, food security, big data, poverty, climate change, immigration, and so many other multidisciplinary areas.
Who is the audience for this initiative?
The audience for this initiative is very ample starting with students, faculty, profesional organizations, small and médium companies, NGOs, multilateral organizations, R&D centers, foundations, and to every individual or organization interested in generating social and busines entrepreneurial activities. Always thinking to “act locally but think globally”’ It is directed to foster the creation of new gloabl leaders that are greatly needed.
Why should individuals or organizations participate in this initiative?
Internationalization, creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship in any institution as well as individuals are key in the globalized world. Institutions and individuals that do not enter in this new thinking will be marginalized, left behind.
Can you give us some examples of accomplishments?
Many of the achievements listed below have been realized in collaboration with other ISTEC initiatives. The list below reflects only a very small sample of activities and accomplishments in the Ibero-American region in the last 25 years.
To begin, ISTEC in collaboration with Cray Research, and industrial member of ISTEC, we helped install the first supercomputer in Latin America. This was carried out at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico in 1991.
In 18 years of collaboration with the Organization of American States, ISTEC has trained scientist and engineers in the thousands in the areas of Digital and Image Processing and software development. Well over 500 software laboratories were implemented using the KHOROS software platform.
ISTEC in collaboration with its industrial partners, Motorola, Microsoft and Hewlett Packard, helped developed the prototype of the Educational Portal of the Organization of American States.
Over 200 R&D laboratory facilities have been donated in 17 countries mostly in the areas of digital signal and image processing, microcontrollers, microprocessors, embedded systems, VLSI design, and software development. The equipment and software donations, in the millions of US dollars, came from our industrial partners such as Motorola, Hewlett Packard, Nortel Networks, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, National Instruments, Xilinx, CISCO and Intel.
ISTEC helped create the Journal of Computer Science and Technology and the Revista Iberoamericana de Tecnología en Educación y Educación en Tecnología.
During IX ISTEC General Assembly held in Ft. Lauderdale, FL in November 1999, Motorola launched the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Challenge for Ibero-America. The challenge was to analyze the needs, weaknesses, strengths and expectations of governments, academia, and the private sector and to define an agenda in ICT as a catalyst for social, cultural and economic development for the next decade, 2000-2010. Dr. Terry Heng, Senior Vice-President of Motorola, presented the ICT Challenge committing $500,000 for the next five years, 2000-2004. The objective was to sponsor conferences, workshops and forums with the participation of high-ranking government officials, academia, industry and international organizations to create awareness, analyze existing ICT models in other regions, develop an ICT agenda, and obtain commitments to implement an ICT plan for the next decade. The agenda addressed issues such as the automated process for production, e-commerce, e-government, distance employment and education, mobility of jobs, S&T policies, IP protection, social and cultural values, health, strategic alliances, and universal access to information, these are few among many topics addressed. For 5 years ISTEC organized ICT Challenges in almost every country of its membership.
In one opportunity, ISTEC in collaboration with major US and European national laboratories organized an event in Santa Fe, New Mexico, to negotiate with the major publishing houses in the area of Science and Technology. As an outcome of event the purchasing model as a consortium for collections of scientific databases and journals online was made. Also, another major contribution was in the “open source” model for journal publications.
In collaboration with Motorola, ISTEC worked in the creation of a micro/nano electronic design and quick prototyping semiconductor facility. As an outcome of this effort the center of excellence CEITEC (Center of Excellence for Semiconductor Industry) was created in Proto Alegre, Brazil. At that time, it was the only center of its type in Latin America.
A software environment called GRANA was developed to help and facilitate academic institutions to begin working in what ISTEC has always promoted which is the “culture of quality”. This environment can assist institutions elaborate a strategic plan that can lead them to obtain an international accreditation. Nowadays, more than ever al academic programs must have international quality to be competitive.
The Innovation Plaza is a new initiative spearheaded by the Electrical & Computer Engineering Department at the University of New Mexico. I is currently being replicated by other ISTEC members and others around the world. It is an open lab space for students from their first semester at the undergraduate level until they graduate can build experiments to bridge the gap connecting Math, Physics, Chemistry, and Engineering at a very early stage by linking theory to real world experience. All the hands–on content is later used in courses at the undergraduate level to bridge the gap between practice and theory. Minimizing this gap early facilitates the learning process of engineering and increases the creativity and innovation of students. It is also a space where graduate students can mentor undergraduate students and involve them in research, and it is also open to high school students. It has open the opportunity for undergraduate students to compete in Business Plan competitions very successfully thus encouraging entrepreneurial activities. Several of these projects have won prizes and started companies. A rescent outcome of this initiative, a hands-on Lab Manual has been produced to assist students and researchers to work with Software Defined Radios (USRPS). This effort in collaboration with National Instruments has become the first experiential manual for the IEEE ComSoc Society.
It has been released from IEEE and ISTEC the book ‘Introduction to Communication Systems Using National Instruments Universal Software Radio Peripheral – Lab Manual 2014’ (http://labs.comsoc.org), authored by Anees Abrol y Eric Hamke, and the contribution of Carlos Adrian Martinez Yero, Olajide Durosinmi y Jeffery Love. The editor of this title, is Dr. Ramiro Jordan, director of the Los Libertadores initiative and founder of ISTEC.
ISTEC has the tradition of organizing student design competitions in specific topics with a high impact factor. As an example is the recycling of garbage. Following this tradition, the Innovation Plaza concept and in collaboration with organizations such as the Global Innovation Network for Entrepreneurship and Technology (GINET, www.ginetllc.com), the International Federation of Engineering Education Societies (IFEES, www.ifees.net), the Students Platform for Engineering Education Development (SPEED, www.worldspeed.org); and Global Engineering Deans Council (GEDC, www.gedcouncil.org) ISTEC is co-organizing the Global Entrepreneurship Challenge (GEC) in the World Engineering Education Forum (WEEF) 2016 in Seoul, South Korea, November 7-8, 2016. The event consists of a bootcamp on entrepreneurship, followed by on how to write a business plan and how to pitch it, and we finalize with a competition where three winning teams will be chosen and the awards consist of funding for the startups.