email@example.com School of EngineerinG
RESEARCH@ENGINEERING.UC.CL SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING
“THIS BOOK IS THUS AN INVITATION TO ALL THOSE WHO ARE CARRYING OUT RESEARCH SOMEWHERE IN THE WORLD, AND WHO MAY FIND SPECIAL MOTIVATION IN JOINING MINDS AND FORCES TO TACKLE THE INCREASINGLY COMPLEX SHARED CONCERNS OF OUR RESPECTIVE PEOPLE AND SOCIETIES.”
It is with great pride that I present this new edition of the book Research@engineering.uc.cl, an overview of the research conducted by academics from our School of Engineering. This pride comes from the growing scope of work itself, but also from the many new stories that reflect the research dynamism of the faculty. The extensive amount of research done by our professors embodied in these pages also reflects two very positive recent developments: the growing number of engineering faculty interacting with researchers from other disciplines, and the birth of several interdisciplinary initiatives such as the new Institute of Biological Engineering and Medicine and the Engineering Mathematics and Computational institute. As part of the Engineering 2030 initiative fostered by the Chilean Agency CORFO, one of our main goals is to strengthen our world-class research engine in what we consider plausible sustainable innovative advantages for the country with global impact. Our activities are organized thematically in four large aspects: health, sustainability, information, and engineering science. We have made steady progress in this direction and seek to continue moving forward in collaboration with you, academics and researchers from institutions all over the world. This is precisely the invitation we would like to make in this book. By showcasing our research work, we hope to inspire the reader to quickly find potential research collaborators at UC Engineering. Please be welcomed to Research@engineering.uc.cl.
Juan Carlos de la Llera Dean, UC School of Engineering
PONTIFICIA UNIVERSIDAD CATÓLICA DE CHILE Escuela de Ingeniería Av. Vicuña Mackenna 4860, Macul RESEARCH@ENGINEERING.UC.CL TEXTS
Marta Apablaza Carolina Conejeros María José Cortés Tamina Hepner Nicolás Luco Constanza Rodríguez EDITOR
María José Cortés Francisco Pizarro ART DIRECTION
Soledad Hola Diseño Corporativo UC DESIGN AND ART
Diseño Corporativo UC Claudia Brenning Valentina Iriarte PHOTOGRAPHY
Jaime Alaluf Carmen Duque COORDINATION
María José Cortés Francisco Pizarro TRANSLATION
Peter Kozak Second English edition of 200 copies. IMPRESIÓN
RESEARCH@ENGINEERING.UC.CL SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING
TABLE OF CONTENTS DEPARTMENT OF CONSTRUCTION ENGINEERING AND MANAGEMENT
31 OBSERVING THE IMPRESSIONS OF ROCKS AND MINERALS
22 NEW TECHNOLOGIES AND METHODOLOGIES FOR IMPROVING PROJECT AND COMPANY COMPETITIVENESS
51 KNOWLEDGE OF GEOTHERMAL ENERGY IN CHILE
Luis Fernando Alarcón 35 THE IMPORTANCE OF MULTICRITERIA DECISIONS IN THE DESIGN OF CIVIL WORKS
Paz Arroyo 52 A SUSTAINABLE LOOK AT INFRASTRUCTURE MANAGEMENT
Alondra Chamorro 73 INFRASTRUCTURE MANAGEMENT SERVING THE COUNTRY
Hernán de Solminihac 108 INNOVATION IN CONCRETE CONSTRUCTION
Marcelo González 156 RISING FROM THE ASHES
Mauricio López 175 VIRTUAL CONSTRUCTIONS THAT PREVENT ERRORS IN THE FIELD
Claudio Mourgues 264 A KNOWLEDGE-BASED APPROACH TO SUPPORT RISK MANAGEMENT IN CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS
Alfredo Serpell 267 TOWARDS A MORE SUSTAINABLE CITY
Ricardo Serpell 279 PERFECTING THE DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION OF ROAD INFRASTRUCTURE
Guillermo Thenoux 291 BUILDING ENGINEER AT THE SERVICE OF THE SUSTAINABLE BUILDINGS
Sergio Vera DEPARTMENT OF STRUCTURAL AND GEOTHECNICAL ENGINEERING 26 BUFFERING VIBRATIONS
José Luis Almazán
José Miguel Cembrano 70 DISRUPTIVE INNOVATION IN EARTHQUAKE ENGINEERING
Juan Carlos de la Llera 114 IMPROVING STRUCTURAL PERFORMANCE
Sergio Gutiérrez 125 SEISMIC DESIGN TO PREVENT BRIDGE DAMAGE
Matías Hube 126 MATHEMATICAL AND COMPUTER MODELING OF THE HEART
Daniel Hurtado 140 THE NEW CHALLENGE OF STRUCTURAL ENGINEERING
Rosita Jünemann 148 UNCERTAINTY REVEALS ITS FACE
Christian Ledezma 154 BEYOND STRUCTURAL DAMAGE
Diego López-García 201 MACRO AND MICRO MECHANICS OF GRANULAR MATERIALS
Carlos Ovalle 235 SPECTRA OF SEISMIC DESIGN AND SEISMIC RISKTHREAT
Rafael Riddell 252 UNDERSTANDING AND MODELING GROUND VIBRATIONS
Esteban Sáez 256 ASSESSING THE SEISMIC BEHAVIOR OF MASONRY CONSTRUCTIONS
Cristián Sandoval 259 MULTIPLYING RESISTANCE
Hernán Santa María 308 OBSERVATION TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH
DEPARTMENT OF HYDRAULIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING 41 QUANTIFYING MASS AND ENERGY FLOWS IN THE ENVIRONMENT
Carlos Bonilla 56 TIDAL POWER GENERATION IN THE CHACAO CHANNEL
Rodrigo Cienfuegos 82 TURBULENCE IN NATURE: FROM RIVER DYNAMICS TO RENEWABLE ENERGIES
Cristián Escauriaza 89 URBAN DRAINAGE MANUAL: PHYSICAL MODEL FOR A HYDROELECTRIC PLANT AND FLOW PREDICTION METHODS
Bonifacio Fernández 107 HUMAN INTERACTION WITH HYDROLOGICAL PROCESSES AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Jorge Gironás 151 INTEGRATION OF BIOGEOCHEMICAL PROCESSES FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY
Eduardo Leiva 172 ECONOMIC EFFICIENCY AND SUSTAINABILITY IN THE WATER SUPPLY AND SANITATION INDUSTRY
María Molinos 179 HYDROGEOLOGICAL MODELS AND THEIR APPLICATION TO ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS
José Francisco Muñoz 209 RIVER DOCTOR
Pablo Pastén 222 QUALITY OF POTABLE WATER FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION
Gonzalo Pizarro 275 RENEWABLE ENERGIES AND INNOVATIVE TEMPERATURE MEASUREMENT SYSTEMS THAT BENEFIT WATER RESOURCES
287 ADAPTING WATER RESOURCE MANAGEMENT TO CLIMATE CHANGE
Ignacio Vargas 293 BIOFILMS: UNDERSTANDING “CITIES OF MICROORGANISM”
Mario Vera 300 WASTE: THE ENERGY OF THE FUTURE
Sebastián Vicuña DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT ENGINEERING AND LOGISTICS 63 ZOOMING IN ON TRANSPORT
Juan Enrique Coeymans 76 OPTIMIZATION OF AIR TRANSPORT
Felipe Delgado 96 ENHANCING HUMAN CAPITAL IN PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
Patricia Galilea 104 OPTIMIZING TRANSPORT SYSTEM OPERATIONS TO SERVE PEOPLE
Ricardo Giesen 121 INCORPORATING TECHNOLOGY INTO TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS
Juan Carlos Herrera 128 CITIES AND THE QUALITY OF LIFE
Ricardo Hurtubia 145 DESIGN OF EXPRESS SERVICES IN URBAN PUBLIC TRANSPORT
Homero Larraín 180 IN THE STREET
Juan Carlos Muñoz 197 GLOBAL INSERTION AND INTERDISCIPLINE
Juan de Dios Ortúzar 243 CONTRIBUTING TO PUBLIC DECISION-MAKING
Luis Rizzi 268 ENGINEERING AND ECONOMICS TO FIGHT URBAN CONGESTION
TABLE OF CONTENTS DEPARTMENT OF INDUSTRIAL AND SYSTEMS ENGINEERING 29 MODELING AND PROGRAMMING: FROM ANALYSIS TO EFFICIENCY
Gustavo Angulo 59 HOW TO MANAGE HEALTH AND SAFETY RISKS
Luis Cifuentes 67 AN OBJECTIVE LOOK AT THE FINANCIAL MARKET
Gonzalo Cortázar 68 TECHNOLOGY-BASED INNOVATION AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN HIGHER EDUCATION
Alfonso Cruz 90 A CERTAIN UNCERTAINTY
Juan Carlos Ferrer 100 OPTIMIZING BUSINESS DECISIONS
Pedro Gazmuri 146 ALL-WAYS ENTREPENEURIAL
Michael Leatherbee 158 WHEN TEMPERATURE RISES
Alejandro Mac Cawley 161 EXPERTISE IN “INTRACTABLE PROBLEMS”
Nicolás Majluf 167 OPTIMIZING PROCESSES IN THE TIMBER INDUSTRY
Sergio Maturana 201 MEASURING AND ANALYZING HOW INSTITUTIONS AND REGULATIONS AFFECT LEARNING
Ricardo Paredes 218 HOW TO BUILD THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE UNIVERSITY AND THE INDUSTRY
Julio Pertuzé 233 KEEPING AN EYE ON FINANCE
Tomás Reyes 260 PROACTIVENESS IN THE ELECTRIC POWER SYSTEM
290 WITH MATHEMATICAL GRACE
Jorge Vera 297 MATHEMATICAL MODELS AND ALGORITHMS APPLIED TO THE TECHNOLOGY SECTOR
José Verschae 309 ESTABLISHING NEW SPACES FOR INNOVATION
296 ANTICIPATING ENERGY
Julio Vergara 304 RESISTING ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION
Magdalena Walczak DEPARTMENT OF CHEMICAL ENGINEERING AND BIOPROCESSES 16 SMALL IS SCALABLE
DEPARTMENT OF MECHANICAL AND METALLURGICAL ENGINEERING
19 FOOD ARCHITECT
39 ARE WE ERGONOMICALLY CHALLENGED?
45 FROM THE MICROSCOPE TO FOOD DESIGN
Sruthi Boda 48 DEVELOPMENT OF FOUNDRY AND CASTING
Diego Celentano 55 MACHINES AT WORK
Luciano Chiang 64 IMPULSE, CROSSROADS AND RISK
Catalina Cortázar 85 THE CHALLENGE OF DEVELOPING RENEWABLE ENERGY
Rodrigo Escobar 117 NANOSTRUCTURES TO MANIPULATE MATTER IN LIFE SCIENCES AND ENERGY CONVERSION
Amador Guzmán 132 BEHAVIORAL STUDY OF SMOKE AND THE PREVENTION OF ASSOCIATED RISKS
Wolfram Jahn 153 MEASUREMENT RULES AND MODELS
Ignacio Lira 171 INNOVATION WITH SIGNIFICANCE
Constanza Miranda 226 LASER TO THE BONE
José Miguel Aguilera Pedro Bouchon 74 THE UNKNOWN QUALITIES OF CO2
José Manuel del Valle 80 BIOMASS AND SUSTAINABLE CHEMISTRY
Néstor Escalona 93 IN SEARCH OF MICROORGANISMS AND BETTER BREAD
Wendy Franco 94 CULTIVATION AND IMPROVEMENT OF QUINOA: REASSESSMENT OF AN ANCESTRAL PLANT
Francisco Fuentes 99 MICROBIOME ENGINEERING
Daniel Garrido 103 THE EMERGENCE OF NEW TOOLS
Claudio Gelmi 139 POOR INDOOR AIR QUALITY?
Héctor Jorquera 176 AN INTERDISCIPLINARY APPROACH TO CHIA
Loreto Muñoz 205 GREEN CHEMISTRY
Loreto Parra 210 THE THREAT OF ACRYLAMIDE
214 A LAB WITH A VIEW
José Ricardo Pérez 251 MICROALGAE FOR BIOFUEL PRODUCTION
César Sáez 255 INCESSANT AGITATOR
Ricardo San Martín 282 FILM IS A COLLABORATIVE EFFORT
Loreto Valenzuela DEPARTMENT OF ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING 15 CHIP DESIGN FOR ASTRONOMICAL INSTRUMENTATION
Ángel Abusleme 60 INCREASINGLY INTERESTING COMPLEX SYSTEMS
Aldo Cipriano 110 CREATION OF A CRYOGENIC CHIP FOR HIGH RESOLUTION IMAGES OF THE UNIVERSE
Marcelo Guarini 113 TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER FOR ASTRONOMICAL DEVELOPMENT
Andrés Guesalaga 118 INNOVATION DRIVING SCIENTIFIC INSTRUMENTATION
Dani Guzmán 131 SPEED, COMFORT AND DIAGNOSTIC QUALITY IN MRI
Pablo Irarrázaval 137 SIMULATIONS THAT BENEFIT GLOBAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT
Carlos Jerez 162 THE CHALLENGE OF BEING WELL PLACED
Vladimir Marianov 184 FACILITATING THE INTEGRATION OF RENEWABLE RESOURCES
189 -MULTI-AGENT NETWORKS: SOLUTIONS IN COOPERATION
Felipe Núñez 193 SMALL BUT POWERFUL
Christian Oberli 194 INTEGRATION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY INTO POWER SYSTEMS
Daniel Olivares 213 CONVERSION, CONTROL AND CONDITION OF ELECTRIC POWER
Javier Pereda 225 EFFICIENCY AND ACCURACY OF MAGNETIC RESONANCE IMAGING
Claudia Prieto 237 DEVELOPMENT OF EARLY WARNING SYSTEMS
Miguel Ríos 238 A SECURE INTERCONNECTION BETWEEN THE SIC AND SING
Sebastián Ríos 247 FROM DESIGN TO IMPLEMENTATION OF PUBLIC POLICIES IN ENERGY
Hugh Rudnick 276 INTEGRATION OF ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY TO STUDY BRAIN ACTIVITY
Cristián Tejos 280 ROBOTICS IN MINING AND AGRICULTURE
Miguel Torres 286 DEVELOPING TECHNOLOGY FOR LARGE TELESCOPES
Leonardo Vanzi 305 INTEGRAL MODELING OF RENEWABLE ENERGIES AND POLICIES FOR THEIR INTEGRATION
DEPARTMENT OF COMPUTER SCIENCE 25 WEB SERVICE COMPOSITION FOR E-COMMERCE
Rosa Alarcón 32 STUDY OF THE SEMANTIC WEB
Marcelo Arenas 36 DEVELOPMENT OF MACHINES CAPABLE OF REASONING EFFECTIVELY
Jorge Baier 46 TECHNOLOGY TO ASSIST EDUCATION
Ignacio Casas 86 DETERMINISTIC AND CONCURRENT: CUTTINGEDGE PROGRAMMING
Yadran Eterovic 122 COMPUTER SYSTEMS THAT ENHANCE THE QUALITY OF HUMAN LIFE
Valeria Herskovic 168 THE IDENTITY BEHIND THE FACE
Domingo Mery 176 COMMITMENT TO PROCESS MINING
Jorge Muñoz 183 A PUBLIC CHANNEL OF INFORMATION FOR SITUATIONS INVOLVING NATURAL DISASTERS
Jaime Navón 187 BEST PRACTICES FOR SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT
Andrés Neyem 190 EDUCATION ENGINEER
Miguel Nussbaum 205 CUSTOMIZATION IN SOCIO-TECHNICAL SYSTEMS
Denis Parra 217 LEARNING ENGINEERING IN AN EVER CHANGING WORLD
221 NEW TECHNOLOGIES FOR THE FUTURE CHALLENGES OF ASTRONOMY IN CHILE
Karim Pichara 230 VISUALLY SIMPLIFYING THE NEVER-ENDING
Juan Reutter 240 DATA ISSUES
Cristián Riveros 248 THE WORLD OF HIGH PERFORMANCE COMPUTING
Cristián Ruz 263 AN ESSENTIAL TOOL FOR THE WORK OF ORGANIZATIONS
Marcos Sepúlveda 272 INTELLIGENT ROBOTS
Álvaro Soto DEPARTMENT OF MINING ENGINEERING 135 MINE EXPLORATION, CREATING VALUE FOR THE INDUSTRY
José Joaquín Jara 142 THE ROLE OF MINING IN CHILE’S DEVELOPMENT
Gustavo Lagos 164 SUPERFICIAL PROCESSES AND MINING EXPLORATION
Carlos Marquardt 207 OPTIMIZING MANAGEMENT OF PHYSICAL ASSETS IN THE MINING INDUSTRY
Rodrigo Pascual 302 STRENGTHENING SMALL AND MEDIUM-SCALE MINING
Álvaro Videla MATHEMATICAL AND COMPUTATIONAL ENGINEERING 137 SIMULATIONS THAT BENEFIT GLOBAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT
229 RANDOMIZATION AND OPEN DYNAMIC SYSTEMS TO UNDERSTAND NATURE
Rolando Rebolledo 283 FROM THE MATHEMATICS OF WAVES TO HEALTHCARE IMRPOVEMENT
Elwin Van‘t Wout INSTITUTE OF BIOLOGICAL AND MEDICAL ENGINEERING 42 A DEEPER LOOK AT THE HEART: AN ORGAN IN CONSTANT MOTION
René Botnar 79 TISSUE ENGINEERING AND REGENERATION
Tomás Egaña 131 SPEED, COMFORT AND DIAGNOSTIC QUALITY IN MRI
Pablo Irarrázaval 244 BIOLOGICAL INSIGHTS FROM MATHEMATICAL MODELS
María Rodríguez 270 BRAIN-MACHINE INTERFACES (BMI) AND NEUROMODULATION IN NEUROSCIENCE RESEARCH
Ranganatha Sitaram RESEARCH CENTER FOR INTEGRATED NATURAL DISASTER MANAGEMENT (CIGIDEN) 20 RESEARCH TO PREVENT NATURAL DISASTERS
TABLE OF ACADEMICS 15 Chip design for astronomical
16 Small is scalable
19 Food architect
JOSÉ MIGUEL AGUILERA
20 Research to prevent natural disasters PAULA AGUIRRE
55 Machines at work
56 Tidal power generation in the Chacao Channel RODRIGO CIENFUEGOS
59 How to manage health and safety risks LUIS CIFUENTES
93 In search of microorganisms and better bread
126 Mathematical and computer modeling of the heart
94 Cultivation and improvement of quinoa: reassessment of an ancestral plant
128 Cities and the quality of life
96 Enhancing human capital in public transportation PATRICIA GALILEA
131 Speed, comfort and diagnostic quality in MRI PABLO IRARRÁZAVAL
132 Behavioral study of smoke and the prevention of associated risks
60 Increasingly interesting complex systems
99 Microbiome Engineering
63 Zooming in on transport
100 Optimizing business decisions
135 Mine exploration that contributes value-added to the industry
25 Web service composition for e-commerce
64 Impulse, crossroads and risk
103 The emergence of new tools
137 Simulations that benefit global science & technology development
26 Buffering vibrations
67 An objective look at the financial market
104 Optimizing transport system operations to serve people
139 Poor indoor air quality?
22 New technologies and methodologies for improving project and company competitiveness LUIS FERNANDO ALARCÓN
JOSÉ LUIS ALMAZÁN
29 Modeling and programming: from analysis to efficiency GUSTAVO ANGULO
31 Observing the impressions of rocks and minerals GLORIA ARANCIBIA
32 Study of the Semantic Web MARCELO ARENAS
35 The importance of multicriteria decisions in the design of civil works PAZ ARROYO
36 Development of machines capable of reasoning effectively JORGE BAIER
39 Are we ergonomically challenged? SRUTHI BODA
41 Quantifying mass and energy flows in the environment CARLOS BONILLA
42 A deeper look at the heart: an organ in constant motion RENÉ BOTNAR
45 From the microscope to food design PEDRO BOUCHON
JUAN ENRIQUE COEYMANS CATALINA CORTÁZAR
68 Technology-based innovation and entrepreneurship in higher education ALFONSO CRUZ
70 Disruptive innovation in earthquake engineering
JUAN CARLOS DE LA LLERA
73 Infrastructure management serving the country
HERNÁN DE SOLMINIHAC
74 The unknown qualities of CO2 JOSÉ MANUEL DEL VALLE
76 Optimization of air transport
79 Tissue Engineering and Regeneration
52 A sustainable look at infrastructure management
107 Human interaction with hydrological processes and the environment JORGE GIRONÁS
108 Innovations in concrete construction
110 Creation of a cryogenic chip for high resolution images of the Universe MARCELO GUARINI
113 Technology transfer for astronomical development ANDRÉS GUESALAGA
114 Improving structural performance SERGIO GUTIÉRREZ
118 Innovation Driving Scientific Instrumentation
48 Development of foundry and casting
JOSÉ MIGUEL CEMBRANO
82 Turbulence in nature: from river dynamics to renewable energies
86 Deterministic and concurrent: cutting-edge programming
51 Knowledge of geothermal energy in Chile
80 Biomass and sustainable chemistry
85 The challenge of developing renewable energy
117 Nanostructures to manipulate matter in life sciences and energy conversion
46 Technology to assist education IGNACIO CASAS
89 Solutions for urban drainage, hydrological models and design of hydraulic works BONIFACIO FERNÁNDEZ
90 A certain uncertainty
JUAN CARLOS FERRER
121 Generating traffic information from data collected by mobile electronic devices JUAN CARLOS HERRERA
122 Computer systems that enhance the quality of human life VALERIA HERSKOVIC
125 Seismic design to prevent bridge damage MATÍAS HUBE
JOSÉ JOAQUÍN JARA
140 The new challenge of Structural Engineering ROSITA JÜNEMANN
142 The role of mining in Chile’s development GUSTAVO LAGOS
145 Design of express services in urban public transport HOMERO LARRAÍN
146 All-Ways Entrepreneurial
148 Uncertainty reveals its face CHRISTIAN LEDEZMA
151 Biogeochemistry for environmental sustainability EDUARDO LEIVA
153 Measurement rules and models IGNACIO LIRA
154 Beyond structural damage DIEGO LÓPEZ-GARCÍA
157 Rising from the ashes MAURICIO LÓPEZ
158 When temperature rises
ALEJANDRO MAC CAWLEY
161 Expertise in “intractable problems” NICOLÁS MAJLUF
162 The challenge of being well placed VLADIMIR MARIANOV
164 Superficial processes and mining exploration CARLOS MARQUARDT
167 Optimizing processes in the timber industry SERGIO MATURANA
168 The identity behind the face DOMINGO MERY
171 Innovation with significance CONSTANZA MIRANDA
172 Economic efficiency and sustainability in the water supply and sanitation industry MARÍA MOLINOS
207 Optimizing management of physical assets in the mining industry
244 Biological insights from mathematical models
209 River doctor
247 From design to implementation of public policies in energy
RODRIGO PASCUAL PABLO PASTÉN
210 The threat of acrylamide FRANCO PEDRESCHI
175 virtual constructions that prevent errors in the field
213 Conversion, control and condition of electric power
176 Commitment to Process Mining
214 A lab with a view
179 Hydrogeological models and their application to environmental problems
217 Learning engineering in an ever changing world
CLAUDIO MOURGUES JORGE MUÑOZ
JOSÉ FRANCISCO MUÑOZ
180 In the street
JUAN CARLOS MUÑOZ
JOSÉ RICARDO PÉREZ
218 How to build the relationship between the university and the industry JULIO PERTUZÉ
183 A public channel of information for situations involving natural disasters
221 New technologies for the future challenges of astronomy in Chile
184 Facilitating the integration of renewable resources
222 Quality of potable water for human consumption
187 Best practices for software development
225 Efficiency and accuracy of magnetic resonance imaging
189 -Multi-agent Networks: Solutions in Cooperation
226 Laser to the bone
190 Education engineer
193 Small but powerful
CLAUDIA PRIETO JORGE RAMOS
229 Randomization and open dynamic systems to understand nature ROLANDO REBOLLEDO
230 Visually simplifying the neverending JUAN REUTTER
194 Integration of renewable energy into power systems
233 Keeping an eye on finance
197 GLOBAL INSERTION AND INTERDISCIPLINE
235 Spectra of seismic design and seismic risk-threat
199 Macro and micro mechanics of granular materials
237 Development of Early Warning Systems
201 Measuring and analyzing how institutions and regulations affect learning
238 A secure interconnection between the SIC and SING
JUAN DE DIOS ORTÚZAR
202 Customization in socio-technical systems DENIS PARRA
205 Green Chemistry
240 Data issues
243 Contributing to public decisionmaking LUIS RIZZI
248 The world of High Performance Computing CRISTIAN RUZ
281 Robotics in mining and agriculture MIGUEL TORRES
283 Film is a collaborative effort LORETO VALENZUELA
284 From the mathematics of waves to healthcare improvement ELWIN VAN ‘T WOUT
251 Microalgae for biofuel production
287 Developing technology for large telescopes
252 Understanding and modeling ground vibrations
288 Waste: the energy of the future
255 Incessant agitator
RICARDO SAN MARTÍN
256 Assessing the seismic behavior of masonry constructions CRISTIÁN SANDOVAL
LEONARDO VANZI IGNACIO VARGAS
291 With mathematical grace JORGE VERA
292 Building engineer at the service of the sustainable buildings SERGIO VERA
259 Multiplying resistance
294 Biofilms: understanding “cities of microorganisms”
260 Proactiveness in the electric power system
297 Anticipating energy
263 An essential tool for the work of organizations
298 Mathematical models and algorithms applied to the technology sector
264 A knowledge-based approach to support risk management in construction projects
301 Adapting water resource management to climate change
267 Towards a more sustainable city
303 Strengthening small and mediumscale mining
268 Engineering and Economics to fight urban congestion
305 Resisting environmental degradation
270 Brain-Machine Interfaces (BMI) and Neuromodulation in Neuroscience Research
306 Integral modeling of renewable energies and policies for their integration
272 Intelligent robots
309 Observation to the center of the earth
HERNÁN SANTA MARÍA
RANGANATHA SITARAM ÁLVARO SOTO
275 Renewable energies and innovative temperature measurement systems that benefit water resources FRANCISCO SUÁREZ
276 Integration of advanced technology to study brain activity CRISTIÁN TEJOS
279 Perfecting the design and construction of road infrastructure
310 Establishing new spaces for innovation STEPHEN ZHANG
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CHIP DESIGN FOR ASTRONOMICAL INSTRUMENTATION
ÁNGEL ABUSLEME ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Electrical Engineering Electrical Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science in Engineering, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, Stanford University, United States Doctor of Philosophy, Stanford University, United States
In recent years chip design has ceased to be a distant prospect for Chile. The department of Electrical Engineering set up a research team in 2010 to focus on the design of this technology and professor Ángel Abusleme forms an integral part of this team. “This type of technology does not exist in Chile because training specialists is cost prohibitive and the software is inaccessible and requires a great deal of maintenance.” Professor Abusleme has participated in several projects related to this area. He is involved in the testing of a detection system for the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), an experiment led by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), which provided the world with the latest breakthroughs on the origin of elementary particle mass. Its aim is to understand how the universe was formed. Since 2013, Ángel Abusleme has collaborated on the ATLAS project, which proved the existence of the Higgs boson, colloquially known as the “God particle.” Its results have provided a greater understanding of matter, particle physics and what we are actually made of. “I help to develop the tools required by physicists to better comprehend how the universe was formed.” Our challenge is to test the detectors and electronics for the ATLAS upgrade to meet the specifications of the new LHC parameters,” explains professor Abusleme.
He is also involved in developing a circuit for one of the ILC detectors, another particle collider under development and which may be constructed in the next few years. “I am currently designing a chip for one of the detectors, a calorimeter that will be built into the base of the collider. The chip will filter the signal produced by the electric charge from the detector and will digitize it at high speed. This will infer particle energy as a result of collisions with a greater degree of precision,” says Abusleme, who, as a result of this, is currently researching the idea of designing scalable front-ends to accommodate a wide range of detector pixel sizes. As part of his research, Abusleme and his team from the department of Electrical Engineering developed a methodology for analyzing noise from discrete systems. “We developed a method to filter discrete-time signals, which allows us to calculate optimal filters.” This development has been the starting point for further research conducted by the department. As a teacher, professor Abusleme is a leader in the electronics field in Chile, and despite a sluggish start, he says that students are becoming increasingly more interested in joining his courses and projects. His online course “Electrones en Acción” offered through the Coursera platform has more than 12.000 active students.
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SMALL IS SCALABLE
Eduardo Agosín, Ph.D., has opened up academic pathways in Chile, bridging the gap between chemistry and biology.
One word frequently appears in his conversation: “beautiful,” a sign of his enthusiasm and passion. He knowingly moves in leaps and bounds over the explosive developments of bioengineering, and states that teaching keeps him up-to-date with new developments.
Department of Chemical Engineering and Bioprocesses Agronomist, Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium Docteur Ingénieur, Institut National Agronomique, Paris, France Doctor of Philosophy, Institut National Agronomique, Paris, France
Professor Agosin’s speciality is in metabolic and cellular engineering. He works with his team to modify microorganisms, making them more efficient compound producers, with a focus on aromas and flavors. With a cellular focus, he applies process engineering tools to optimize the events of this miniscule biological “industrial plant.” He and his team could have chosen to target cells to produce biofuels, but the focus has been maintained on aromas and flavors: violets, strawberries, natural sweeteners... all the more important to Chile given its wine industry. They work to scale laboratory results to industrial production plants. Modeling is on the rise in his area of work. Although a computer model can never exactly match a natural process, modeling does narrow the field of solutions, clarify limitations and develop new optimization targets. Modeling is gaining popularity as an objective in and of itself, building solutions and creating shortcuts. “All processes complement one another,” he says. Laboratory research generates products that need control mechanisms. This is where the sophisticated DICTUC Aroma Center (Centro de Aromas DICTUC) enters the scene, confirming or rejecting the results of a process that likely had its origins on a computer screen.
Dr. Agosín’s experience spans the globe. He completed both his undergraduate and postgraduate studies abroad. Many of his classmates in Leuven were African, and the stark reality of the continent left its mark on him. Alongside the malnourishment so rampant in Northern Africa were also sources of organic matter that he saw could be so useful for small farmers. He immediately thought of finding a way to reuse organic waste: “These things are so commonplace today, but back then nobody was thinking about them.” The primary processes in his area were chemical; however, he chose a biological path. He degraded lignin with fungi and managed to triple the digestibility of wheat straw and corn cobs. When he returned to Chile, he took on the subject of the “rotten stick”, described over a hundred years ago: in years of shortage, the cows in Chiloé ate rotting logs. Through a National Science Foundation project, he and a colleague from the University of Minnesota studied the specific fungus that degraded logs, and he renamed it Ganoderma australis. The fungus digested the lignin and the cows ate the remaining cellulose. This was the start of a passion for the interconnectedness of engineering and biological processes, and Dr. Agosín was at the forefront. Today, his research impacts the processes used in the food and beverage industry, and most notably in the ever more sophisticated Chilean wine industry, where his research is fundamental. One of these processes has even led him to search for wine aromas that are more palatable to the Chinese market. In his words: “it’s beautiful.”
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JOSÉ MIGUEL AGUILERA PROFESSOR EMERITUS Department of Chemical Engineering and Bioprocesses Civil Industrial Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States Master of Business Administration, Texas A&M University, United States Doctor of Philosophy, Cornell University, United States
Professor Aguilera holds the National Award of Applied and Technological Sciences (2008) and from 2010 to 2013 chaired the National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research.
knowledge that allows us to design food for the needs of future societies, similar to the way an architect designs a house. The focus is on wellbeing: people want to be healthier, to look, feel and eat better.
The latter responsibility opened many doors for him, notably to unique locations and natural laboratories in Chile for world-class science, such as astronomy. Chile, he says, provides “the best geographical conditions for installing observatories”. He is currently chairman of the Astronomic Park Foundation (Fundación Parque Astronómico), which manages 36,500 hectares in the Chajnantor Valley near San Pedro de Atacama (Northern Chile).
He is currently researching how to add fiber to food while keeping it appealing and palatable. Structure is fundamental. To illustrate this, he crushes a bag of cheese puffs and asks us to taste them: nobody would sell a bag of the resulting powder. However, in its previous state as cheese puffs that crunch, crackle and dissolve slowly in the mouth, it is sought after by young and old alike.
As a chemical engineer, he developed his expertise from observing food under his microscope. “Many of its properties, as with many products in our daily lives, are found in its microstructures. What our senses perceive originates in the microstructures. I have dedicated my entire life to this research.” He developed a strategy with the help of a key tool: his excellent students. “I prepared all of my early papers with my engineering students... and they were undergraduates!” The doctorate program was only developed in 1993. His inspiration: food design. “Unlike most products of modern day life, food was never designed.” From the late 19th century onwards, our society has accumulated
“And that is my contribution – in order to design food, you must know how it is made, starting from the molecular base and working up the ladder to the final product.” Professor Aguilera became the first chilean member of the US-based National Academy of Engineering. He is the recipient of the Alexander von Humboldt Award (Germany); the Marcel Loncin Award from the Institute of Food Technology (United States), and the Guggenheim Fellowship, among others. His book “Gastronomic Engineering” (published by Ediciones UC and translated into English), was chosen by “Choice” magazine as one of the top 200 academic publications from 2013. “I believe that food is a very interesting raw material for sharing basic principles of science and engineering,” says the Professor Emeritus.
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RESEARCH TO PREVENT NATURAL DISASTERS
PAULA AGUIRRE ADJUNCT ASSISTANT PROFESSOR National Research Center for Integrated Natural Disaster Management (CIGIDEN) Civil Mechanical Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor of Philosophy in Astrophysics, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
“We inhabit a seismic territory, and geophysical evidence suggests that the North of Chile will experience the country’s next major earthquake and that it will be similar to or greater than the one that occurred on 27 February 2010 in South-Central Chile. It is crucial to understand a priori the effects that such an event would have on the buildings and people in this area, in order to improve preparation and prevent an unavoidable natural phenomenon turning into a major disaster,” stated professor and researcher Paula Aguirre. Since joining the National Research Center for Integrated Natural Disaster Management (CIGIDEN) in 2014, professor Aguirre has focused her attention on describing earthquake scenarios based on space-based radar observations and physical and mathematical methods for estimating the movements of tectonic plates deep within the earth’s subduction zones, which is where most Chilean earthquakes originate. The next stage of her research is to apply seismic propagation and movement models in order to translate these subterranean slips into the movements expected in different parts of the surface. “The goal is to generate synthetic ground motion records in many parts of a city for different earthquakes in order to simulate the effect of having a high density of seismic instruments installed. Our aim is to better explain the effects of recent events and to estimate the characteristics of movements generated by future earthquakes.” Today her research has reached the calibration stage for physical and stochastic models based on observational
data of earthquakes that have occurred in recent years (Pisagua in 2014, Illapel in 2015), “in order to develop a model that is specific to the Chilean context, and which allows us to predict the ground motion for the subduction earthquakes that occur in the north of our country.” In addition to the aforementioned research work, professor Aguirre and a research team from CIGIDEN have been implementing HAZUS, a risk analysis platform developed in the United States to estimate the damage and physical, economic and social losses that occur as a result of major earthquakes or tsunamis. Consequently, they have obtained a complete characterization of the potential seismic scenarios proposed for northern Chile, particularly for the city of Iquique, ranging from modeling of plate movements in the subduction zone, to the quantification of impacts on the city and its inhabitants. Though it is focused on the study of natural disasters, professor Aguirre’s current work at CIGIDEN largely combines her previous research in Astronomy. She holds a degree in this area and a doctorate in Astrophysics. With such training, one might expect her to be focused on the most practical application of science. The two disciplines share multiple research techniques, such as analysis of satellite observations and computer modeling of physical processes, although in the case of the science of natural disasters, with a specific end goal: to improve our understanding and preparedness with respect to the natural hazards inherent to Chile.
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NEW TECHNOLOGIES AND METHODOLOGIES FOR IMPROVING PROJECT AND COMPANY COMPETITIVENESS
LUIS FERNANDO ALARCÓN PROFESSOR Department of Construction Engineering and Management Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, United States Master of Science, University of California, Berkeley, United States Doctor of Philosophy, University of California, Berkeley, United States
An international leader in project management, professor Alarcón is dedicated to creating methods, strategies and technologies that improve company performance and competitiveness, based on the Lean Production Management philosophy, which he promotes fervently in Chile. Professor Alarcón is director of the Center for Excellence in Production Management from the Catholic University of Chile (GEPUC, Centro de Excelencia en Gestión de Producción de la Universidad Católica de Chile), a multidisciplinary center where he works in collaboration with other academics and Ph.D. students. He proudly states that they have much higher data and business access than many other countries, only comparable to the Project Production Systems Lab (P2SL), UC Berkeley in the U.S., which also drives companies to invest in new developments rather than just measuring what they do. Several research projects have led to software development. GEPUC developed software to support implementation of planning and production control systems in companies, where the data is able to predict the success or failure of projects being implemented. Alarcón and his team also developed innovative software to collect data from video recordings of construction
sites to sample productivity, safety and quality. This is a globally unique development that has had a very significant impact in reducing accidents and downtimes. Professor Alarcón is also interested in Virtual Design and Construction for construction projects. For example, rather than using actual resources, under this method computer-generated construction modeling would be used to establish which equipment to use and their optimal combination. He also researches the best strategy for implementing Virtual Design and Construction in businesses. Companies often lack knowledge and tend to focus on software, thinking it will make a difference, but what they don’t realize is that the difference is in the management principles, i.e., how tools are combined to achieve the best result. This is an area of great inspiration for the professor. His most recent work involves implementation of Lean Management principles in mine development and operations; computer modeling for decision making and risk analysis; and development and application of advanced collaborative design tools, automating design to set costs at a certain level, rather than estimating costs after project design.
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WEB SERVICE COMPOSITION FOR E-COMMERCE
ROSA ALARCÓN ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Computer Science Systems Engineer, Universidad Católica Santa María, Peru Master of Science, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
“The beauty of the web is that on the one hand it provides information and on the other it allows the development of processes, applications and services,” states professor Rosa Alarcón, whose main area of interest is software engineering research. “Both the information and the processes are modelled on hypermedia, which leads to a dynamic web environment,” she says. In 2010, she began her work on the composition of RESTful web services. This involves making light web services, such as Web APIs, available as a part of business processes and thereby enabling an automated and dynamic creation of new web services. Her goal is to facilitate virtual e-commerce. Alarcón has been working in conjunction with professor Erik Wilde from the University of California, Berkeley, to define a metalanguage and description of the API. They have also made prototypes, which empirically and mathematically prove that web services, as they are proposing, consume less server resources, which means they would take up less space than traditional services, and are more flexible, simpler and easier to maintain. Among the potential applications of this research, professor Alarcón says that just as there are currently
content search engines, there could also be service search engines. For example, if someone wants to travel to the Atacama Desert and take a tour, find accommodation or go to a restaurant, the search engine would find these services and contact banks and travel agencies. “The goal is not to build automated software, but rather to automatically link already existing pieces of software, thereby providing a service previously unheard of,” she explains. She is confident that the development of these services will “make life easier for people and will provide greater web visibility to SMEs and businesses.” Professor Alarcón is currently developing another project that uses data processing, specifically Learning based Analysis through indirect channels, for example, activity logs, Web search logs, etc. She works with the EducarChile database, an educational website for teachers, administrators, students and families. She says the process has not been easy, because the data is not well structured and unfortunately search engines can bias the search. “There is a small segment of the database that is visited,” she confirms. “I am very interested in education. I believe that access to mass data allows people to discover useful generalizations.”
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JOSÉ LUIS ALMAZÁN
Professor Almazán specializes in structural dynamics, vibration reduction systems and experimental structure analysis.
Almazán’s most recent work involves a threedimensional isolation system for structures and equipment, a project that started with government funding and is currently applying for patents at domestic and international level.
Department of Structural and Geotechnical Engineering Civil Engineer, Universidad Nacional de San Juan, Argentina Doctor of Science in Engineering, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
In certain structures such as liquid storage tanks, traditional seismic isolation devices are not an economically feasible solution. In response to this, the professor proposed a new three-dimensional verticalrotational isolation system. This system is composed of laterally rigid and vertically flexible devices that generate a three-dimensional isolation system, i.e., a structure is provided with both horizontal and vertical protection. Traditional seismic isolation systems such as elastomeric isolators and friction pendulums provide horizontal but not vertical isolation.
The device consists of a shell formed by six rigid hinged plates, which form a mechanism of three degrees of freedom. It has a set of inner springs, allowing it to work as a vibration isolator and energy dissipater. The devices are connected to the structural columns or supports to generate an interface that blocks horizontal movement, thus enabling rocking and vertical movement. Although the original intent of the system is to protect industrial structures or equipment in general with vertical loads of less than ten tons, it can also be adapted for heavier structures such as buildings or large industrial constructions. Jose Luis Almazán has already successfully completed the first reduced-scale (1/4) prototype lab tests and he and his team has performed vibration table tests on a full-scale model of a 3m3 wine storage tank.
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MODELING AND PROGRAMMING: FROM ANALYSIS TO EFFICIENCY
GUSTAVO ANGULO ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering Mathematical Civil Engineer, Universidad de Chile. Master in Operations Management, Universidad de Chile. Doctorate in Operations Research, Georgia Institute of Technology, United States
Companies are constantly faced with complex decisions that appear to be simple, such as deciding the route to be taken by a delivery truck. Behind every one of those decisions there are more effective ways to get the best results. The work of professor Angulo is focused on one of these methods: integer linear programming. He started off as a researcher in this area when he co-authored “A strategic empty container logistics optimization in a major shipping company” (2011), a research initiative that was selected as a finalist of the Franz Edelman Award, competition in which large companies such IBM, HP or General Motors have competed in other editions. The initiative was also presented with the Ramón Salas Edwards Award from the Institute of Engineers of Chile. “During those early years, I focused on the study of applied problems that include variables that are typically yes or no, for example, deciding to build something or not.” Professor Angulo created optimization models based on the analysis of problems faced by industry on a daily basis, such as the dynamics of logical decisions or restrictions (if I bypass A and B then I must carry out
C). He incorporated the results into a software code in order to generate an efficient solution. To meet this objective, professor Angulo had to combine two processes: modeling and optimization. “The first involves how to represent a planning problem, for example, how many days do I have to produce what my company needs. Then I apply the optimization, which is this notion of doing the best they can with the limited resources available.” In 2014, during his final year of doctoral studies at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, Georgia, USA), he began his teaching career. He led the Engineering Optimization course as guest teacherstudent at the invitation of the institute. “It was a very good experience. I was very well received and realized that I really wanted to make my mark in teaching.” Professor Angulo believes that it is essential for students to question what is behind every decision, and that the efficiency of a given system can always be optimized. “I think it is vital to convey to these young people that they can also be empowered, examine things, make proposals and see that they can actually make quantitatively analyzed improvements.”
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OBSERVING THE IMPRESSIONS OF ROCKS AND MINERALS
GLORIA ARANCIBIA ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Structural and Geotechnical Engineering Geologist, Universidad de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, Universidad de Chile
Gloria Arancibia is dedicated to the microstructural study of Earth Science. She identifies specific ore species and determines their different textures on a microscopic scale. Specifically, she examines size ratios, shape, contact with other minerals, internal variations (compositional or structural), and preferential crystal orientation, among others, that provide information about a specific feature. Her office is home to a wide variety of rock and ore samples that she has scrutinized with her microscopic eye. Her goal: to identify the geological conditions, such as pressure, temperature, liquid composition and nature of magmas under which the rocks and ore formed and evolved. These are the foundations on which she can build the geological history of the study object. This knowledge base is very useful in solving many problems arising from the interaction of humans with these natural materials. It is fundamental when assessing energy resources or identifying natural rock deformations, and when determining the mechanical behavior of certain ore and the physical and chemical properties associated with their internal structure. The incorporation of Earth Sciences into Universidad Católica’s School of Engineering is recent (from
2010 onwards), and since then Gloria Arancibia has participated as both teacher and researcher. She works on a scale ranging from a few millimeters with an optical microscope to microns with an electron microscope. She says that up until now, studies have been twodimensional on a thin layer of rock. The new Computerized Micro Tomography X-ray (micro CT) equipment acquired by Universidad Católica moves beyond 2D studies and into a 3D view of heterogeneous earth materials. Gloria Arancibia considers this to be vital for a better understanding, for example, of the mechanical behavior of a rock and how it fractures in a specific direction under certain pressure and temperature conditions. This equipment is one-ofa-kind in Chile and one of only a few in Latin America. “It increases our knowledge base, which is essential in geology where we are always looking to reduce uncertainty. In this field there are many processes that cannot be tested by direct experimentation. The greater the existing knowledge base, the greater certainty we have about what we are researching.”
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STUDY OF THE SEMANTIC WEB
MARCELO ARENAS ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Computer Science Industrial Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, University of Toronto, Canada
Aiming to determine how computers can better understand Web content, professor Marcelo Arenas runs a project that develops infrastructure to perform complex Web searches and build response mechanisms. The Semantic Web, a concept coined in 2000, addresses this subject. The academic reveals the origins of this research. He posed the following question on Google: who is the researcher among Chilean engineering schools with the most references to his or her publications? The search yielded over two million results, although the first document on the list did not provide a relevant answer to the question. The explanation, says Arenas, is that computers are syntactic, which means, unlike the human brain, they can recognize text but not the meaning of its content, so a general question has to be divided into several specific queries in order to perform a relatively complex search. The major challenge is to obtain an automatic response to the first query without the need to subdivide it or seek expert intervention. The Semantic Web involves the development of languages to specify the relationship between Web resources, query languages and rule languages that
provide inferences. HTML language indicates plain, bold or italics, for example, but another kind of language is needed to ask questions and specify the meaning of content. The standard RDF (Resource Description Framework) format was the first of this kind of language. “Through languages like RDF, you can tell the computer the meaning of a link,” indicates professor Arenas. He is investigating this subject with a team of researchers from Universidad Católica and Universidad de Chile. They will apply tools such as Mathematical Logic and Computational Complexity Theory. The professor notes that the latter will determine, from a mathematical point of view, whether or not a response is possible for a given question. “We need to know the limits and understand that we cannot respond to every type of query.” In the three years they have to develop this project, Marcelo Arenas’ goal is to place a functioning pilot system on a server, which can be used to obtain information from complex queries. He would like everyone to have access to a “Semantic Google” that is able to utilize data semantics. “It would be amazing to have something like that”, he concludes.
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THE IMPORTANCE OF MULTICRITERIA DECISIONS IN THE DESIGN OF CIVIL WORKS PAZ ARROYO ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Construction Engineering and Management Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, University of California, Berkeley, United States
In the world of construction, decisions are normally taken on the basis of costs. How to broaden the analysis spectrum of suitable alternatives in the design process of a sustainable structure has been the area of research developed by academic Paz Arroyo since taking her doctorate in civil and environmental engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. The impact of civil works in the environment and the quality of life of people are closely related to the decisions taken by the multidisciplinary teams that work at the design stage of projects. “The problem is that there is no training provided for architects and engineers together in order to take early decisions; there is no common language in order to consider other factors that influence the design of a sustainable product,” explains the professor. A collaborative, multidisciplinary design is considered by Arroyo to be fundamental in order to boost the construction industry. For this purpose, she has studied methods for taking early decisions that incorporate the design of a structure; materials selected; its construction and operation, and even its deconstruction. Construction sustainability consists of three areas: environmental, social and economic. Bearing this in mind, the decision-making method “Choosing by Advantages” is more appropriate than other commonlyused methods such as the “Analytical Hierarchy Process,” as it provides a detailed and transparent analysis of alternatives, and identifies the best solution even if it is not perfect, taking into account multiple factors and multidisciplinary teams. This approach has been validated for the design and construction of commercial
buildings with high-performance standards in terms of the environment and people, such as the Net Zero Energy buildings in California. “This innovative approach in terms of industry has led to studies along with an interdisciplinary team regarding factors such as the environmental impact of a material; the element of social justice linked to each process, such as whether the materials come from renewable sources or whether the staff members are qualified,” states the professor, who has continued her studies in this area with academics from the University of California, Berkeley, and has also expanded the scope of the research method and the proposed tools at the Center for Production Management Excellence (GEPUC), working alongside professor Luis Fernando Alarcón, and in the UC Center for Innovation and Development of Wood. “What’s important is to have a good method for decision-making purposes and to compare alternatives. Many people do not realize that the method used to take decisions ultimately affects both the decisions and their impacts. In Chile, we need to pressure industry so that it provides the necessary information in order to take timely and better decisions, through declarations regarding the environmental and health impacts of the products used in a construction,” says professor Arroyo, adding that, “the immediate effect of the proposed method is an improvement so that the final design is better and has a lower cost in the long term, taking into account all viable alternatives and working with architects, engineers, constructors and clients in order to stimulate innovation.”
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DEVELOPMENT OF MACHINES CAPABLE OF REASONING EFFECTIVELY
JORGE BAIER ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Computer Science Industrial Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, University of Toronto, Canada
“How can you get machines to make appropriate and rational decisions, and to do it quickly?” poses professor Jorge Baier, who uses techniques developed in Artificial Intelligence to attempt to answer such questions. In 2009 he began to explore ways to use automatic planning techniques to diagnose dynamic systems, his goal to identify quality explanations. He gives the following example to illustrate his point: Imagine that you are driving and feel a small explosion and then find it hard to steer. You step out of your vehicle and see that you have a flat tire. What happened? For humans, the answer is obvious (you probably ran over something sharp, resulting in a puncture), but not necessarily so for a machine. “A sniper shot the tire,” is also an explanation, but not a rational one. “How can a software system help humans make good decisions when problems arise?” In this case, says Baier, the important thing is for the system to suggest a good course of action, which a user can understand and find reasonable.” In most cases, the goal is not to determine the exact fault or cause, but rather to resolve the problem, hopefully with a minimum of resources,” says Baier.
Baier showed that existing automatic planning systems, which are capable of transforming one situation into another, can also be used to find faults in dynamic systems. “The advantage of these planners is that they are able to resolve major issues that may be difficult for humans.” The professor explains that the computer uses these techniques to analyze a large number of possible explanations in a minimal amount of time. However, not all explanations are equal. To determine the quality of an explanation, the system uses an expertise-fed quality function. “We tested this system on diagnosis problems and compared it to state-ofthe-art diagnosis systems. We showed that in many cases the planning techniques are more efficient at diagnosing problems. This shows that automatic planning techniques have a high potential in resolving diagnostic problems,” says Baier. Professor Baier anticipates that over time we will be increasingly surrounded by more machines that help us to perform tasks. “We will need these machines to make good decisions and to help us in everyday situations, especially when a quick response time is crucial.”
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ARE WE ERGONOMICALLY CHALLENGED? SRUTHI BODA ADJUNCT ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Mechanical and Metallurgical Engineering Biomedical Engineer, Osmania University College of Engineering, India Master in Biomedical Engineering, University of South Florida, United States Doctor of Philosophy in Industrial Engineering (Ergonomics/ Biomechanics), University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, United States
Yes, says professor Sruthi Boda, who specializes in ergonomics, the study of interaction between humans, machines and the environment. Her primary focus is lower back pain, one of the most challenging problems in her field. About 70% of the population has experienced lower back pain. It is a disorder that causes severe pain in the lower part of the back and its cause is seldom identified. Signs and symptoms can range from mild pain to more severe symptoms like back stiffness, numbness and tingling in the legs, decreased movement, diminished quality of life and permanent disability. Treatment of lower back pain is often expensive, yet ineffective as the problem frequently recurs. Due to the enormous healthcare costs and impact on peoples’ lives, the World Health Organization has made lower back pain a priority disease and called for improved treatment and prevention strategies. “This makes back pain a very important condition to study and prevent. It is alarming that it is becoming common among adolescents too.” The inspiration to pursue this field of study came from professor Boda’s family, when many members became afflicted with back pain including the professor herself. Drawing on her background in industrial engineering, she conducted field research on possible causes of this disorder in the industrial population. She studied people who had experienced back pain to predict which factors are likely to cause future episodes. “I had been looking at the factors for lower back pain, and asking why people develop this ailment, how they continue to work through the pain, and how they live with it. I also examined their psychological conditions and whether any of these variables has an impact on their condition.” Professor Boda studied biomechanical job exposures, organizational job factors, lifestyle and personal/health factors, and psychological factors of 130 workers who performed manual handling over the course of four years
to identify the ingredients of a “recipe” for future back pain. One of the most important findings of her study was that the ‘Lifting Index’ method showed that lifting stress was an important contributor to future back pain. The ‘Lifting Index’ provides a composite picture of lifting stress by measuring the manner and number of lifts a worker performs each day and considers a combination of factors like object weight, posture, etc. However, professor Boda has not concluded her research on lower back pain. Her next steps are to compare different groups of people to understand why some people are resistant to lower back pain, while others have acute pain and still others experience chronic pain that becomes a severe disability. Since physical factors like lifting in a job are strong contributors to lower back pain, [re]design of jobs and workplaces could be key to reducing incident of occupational low back pain. By studying groups separately, we may be able to identify specific design limits for different people depending on their low back pain status. Professor Boda also investigates other ergonomic problems. For example, she is working on wearable devices for office and assembly workers designed to prevent or help reduce Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, a painful disorder of the hand and wrist caused by forceful and repetitive movements and other factors. She is also developing reliable and cost-effective ways to train medical students. She is most excited about her latest research interest – Neuroergonomics. professor Boda aims to determine acceptable limits for mental workload to guide the design of future jobs. Understanding how the human mind works, its capacity for growth, adaptation and multitasking, and its limitations, are fascinating to me. “The possibilities of discovery and innovation are endless.”
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QUANTIFYING MASS AND ENERGY FLOWS IN THE ENVIRONMENT
CARLOS BONILLA ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering Agricultural Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science in Engineering, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States
Most processes that occur in the environment are associated with mass and energy transfer. Some are easily perceptible, such as the slow movement of water through pores in the soil or the increase in soil temperature as a result of solar radiation during the day. However, other processes are more difficult to detect, to measure or even to study. Examples of these are the transfers in the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum, the fate and transport of a contaminant in soil or water, and the gas exchange in the microenvironment surrounding an organism. As a soil physicist and environmental biophysicist, these are just three examples among many challenges that Carlos Bonilla faces every day in his research.
“This modeling effort relies heavily on computer resources, but also on direct measurements to obtain model parameters, and validate and verify predictions of quality.” This integrated effort combines several skills and tools, such as field measurements and experimentation, physical and chemical analysis, remote sensing, satellite imagery, and geographic information systems. Many of the applications currently developed by Bonilla are used for building mathematical models for environmental impact assessment and sustainable development.
With the emphasis placed on measurement and modeling, Bonilla has led a series of research initiatives to study the physical, chemical and biological processes involved in water and contaminant fluxes in the environment. “Understanding and predicting these processes is crucial for fostering sustainable environmental management,” he claims.
His work includes the study of water and energy transferred between the earth’s surface and the atmosphere, and often in extreme environments, along with the development of predictive models to control surface runoff and water erosion. He also undertakes work on creating systems and tools for limiting nonpoint source pollution processes, and designing engineered vegetative filter strips to trap contaminants carried by water and sediment. His most recent work focuses on quantifying carbon fluxes and sequestration in natural environments to mitigate the effects of climate change.
In his research, Bonilla combines knowledge from several fields of science related to the soil-plant-atmosphere system. “The approach I use to integrate the information from different disciplines involves mathematical modeling of the different components of this system,” he says.
“There are many scientific and technological challenges related to this kind of research, however, understanding, modeling and predicting how ecosystems respond to environmental changes is motivation enough for me to continue working in this area,” concludes Bonilla.
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A DEEPER LOOK AT THE HEART: AN ORGAN IN CONSTANT MOTION
RENÉ BOTNAR ADJUNCT PROFESSOR Institute of Biological and Medical Engineering Master of Science, Universität Karlsruhe, Germany Doctor of Philosophy, ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), Switzerland
With the aim of creating a non-invasive test that enables a patient’s cardiovascular risk to be assessed, René Botnar, one of the pioneer academics fusing engineering with medicine, is researching the creation of threedimensional images of coronary arteries using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
other vital organs and parts of the body, such as the abdomen, brain and other parts that can be scanned,” explains the professor, who is clearly passionate about the power of biomedical engineering to benefit large numbers of people: “This discipline is able to develop technology and place it at the service of the population.”
The difficulty lies in the natural motion of the heart and respiration. This is why Botnar is working on developing new techniques for motion correction. “We must ensure that when MRI images are being taken, the heart is always in focus. Consequently we measure the motion of the heart in real time and use sophisticated algorithms to make the necessary corrections,” says the professor. His research, which began in 1997, has developed various mechanisms that stabilize movement. “We started with a technical correction for just one dimension, and we are now able to correct the complex motion of the heart in three dimensions,” he adds.
Other current research led by Botnar is geared towards obtaining images of molecules and cells of the heart and blood vessels. “What we do in clinical trials is obtain images of the heart from a morphological and functional perspective. However, we are not able to create images of the biological processes that precede heart disease. The next step would be to capture images of coronary cells and proteins and of blood vessels so as to anticipate such disease. Thus, if we see any changes at the cellular level, we wouldn’t have to wait to see the changes that occur at the morphological and functional level when the first symptoms of disease start to appear.”
“For doctors this sort of information is extremely useful, and can be applied to surgical processes. Moreover, this technology can also be used to obtain images of
The latter could influence the way medical treatments for diseases work: “We will be able to assess the body’s response to certain drugs,” he concludes.
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FROM THE MICROSCOPE TO FOOD DESIGN
PEDRO BOUCHON ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Chemical Engineering and Bioprocesses Industrial Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, School of Food Biosciences, University of Reading, United Kingdom
Professor Pedro Bouchon was thrilled when he received the invitation to be Chairman of a session devoted to dehydrated and fried foods in the 2013 Conference of Food Engineering, the most important event in this field in the United States: such recognition of a Latin American scientist isn’t a frequent occurence. Professor Bouchon’s impact in the development of healthy snacks and processed products has had a global reach; the same is the case with a technology he developed to produce food with very low fat content and a very high level of nutrient preservation. As if this weren’t enough, he was the school’s Director of Research, Innovation and Graduate Studies until 2014. He created a Master in Innovation, in conjunction with the School of Management, where he contributes from applied research, nurturing the curriculum with his Seminar of Distinguished Innovators and from his discipline of innovation in food design. For Professor Bouchon, making a contribution to society is critical. He seeks to sensitize the food industry “and transform it,” by expanding the selection of healthier foods. He directs the Anillo project, “Design of healthy food matrices,” which includes researchers from the Universidad de Chile, and the Austral and Federico Santa Maria universities. The aim of this group is to obtain compounds with nutritional value from agroindustrial waste. Once stabilized, they are added to
food matrices. “We have a robust relationship with the Schools of Medicine and Biological Sciences for in vitro studies that prove the effectiveness of these developments on health,” he says. While researching for his thesis, “I discovered the fascinating world of microscopy; I began to understand food ingredients as modular building blocks in food design.” He strives to combine ingredients and generate palatable structures with healthy nutrients and compounds. An untimely degradation of food compounds is unacceptable in food preparation and digestion. Professor Bouchon increasingly interacts with biological sciences, nutrition and health departments to ensure that the compounds are eventually “bio-available in the human body and effectively incorporated into the bloodstream.” The issue of scale is very relevant to him. The “building blocks,” he says, are at micron scale. What happens at that relevant scale will eventually be reflected in the macro-structural properties of the product. This is the case with scaling: what is created in the laboratory must be transferred to the field. Professor Bouchon can often be seen walking around the school offering taste tests. The food is both visually appealing and, according to the professor, a delight under the microscope.
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TECHNOLOGY TO ASSIST EDUCATION
IGNACIO CASAS ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Computer Science Electrical Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, University of Toronto, Canada Doctor of Philosophy, University of Toronto, Canada
Motivated by the development of new technologies, professor Ignacio Casas wanted to make a contribution to public education in Chile. The professor uses a software based on cognitive tutoring and interactive learning (“learning by doing”) to support students in mathematics. Step-by step problem solving, customized online feedback, graphic representation and problem-solving reinforcement strategies all form part of this technology called Math Cognitive Tutor (MCT). Professor Casas developed MCT in conjunction with Carnegie Mellon University, with which he has a longstanding relationship of over fifteen years. “This technology is unheard of in Chile,” he says. He forms part of a multidisciplinary team (which includes professors from the Universidad Católica’s Faculty of Education) that began to apply this interactive software in workshops with elementary school students from public municipal and subsidized private schools in Santiago, Villarrica, Arica and Punta Arenas. The professor explains how the software works: students are given a problem and through a sequence of questions, they are guided (given clues and shown their errors) in reading comprehension, identification of solution patterns, critical thinking, strategic skills, productive disposition and fluency in procedures. They use
artificial intelligence computer techniques with random problem generators to avoid repetition. This implies that no student will have the same problem as his or her neighbor and every time a student has to repeat a procedure, he or she encounters a new situation. The team hopes to extend this initiative in the future to public high schools and first year university students. The project is currently in the experimentation, measurement and evaluation stage. The results to date (presented at several international conferences) are very encouraging. The professor explains that although the software focuses on students, their work is primarily aimed at math teachers (the software includes support systems for teachers and administrators). More than 200 math teachers have been trained to use this tool, which has led to significant progress in mathematics learning. The basis of the project is to show that the technology works. “We want to expand it to all public schools in Chile,” said the professor. «It›s a tremendous challenge. We hope to prove its usefulness and make a significant contribution to educational development in Chile,” said professor Ignacio Casas.
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DEVELOPMENT OF FOUNDRY AND CASTING
DIEGO CELENTANO PROFESSOR Department of Mechanical and Metallurgical Engineering Civil Engineer, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina Doctor of Philosophy, Universidad Politécnica de Cataluña, Spain
Professor Diego Celentano wants to improve the foundry and casting processes in the metal industry.
the range of solutions. This is where the lead researcher intervenes with his practical-theoretical experience.
Clearly, a better heater-plate design would reduce costs, increase functionality and dominate aesthetics. And there’s more. Proper foundry creates adequate, better or new materials. Casting then designs and produces an object or part to meet specifications.
The purpose of the third stage, simulation, is to solve the previously defined equations. In this stage, the researchers often resort to iteration, moving back and forth between simulations and modeling before finally moving into the fourth stage which can be expensive: validation.
Professor Celentano’s Fondecyt-sponsored research project, “Modeling of foundry and casting processes,” involves four stages.
The main objective of this research is to propose a mode of operation that adapts to this process, proposing foundry and casting models on different scales.
The first, experimental stage takes place in the laboratory, and on some occasions in the plant. As technology is in constant evolution, the School has renovated laboratories, importing new laser equipment, among other devices. Laser equipment is now key to casting and shaping parts.
The research approach, which is both phenomenological and multi-scale, is key. It involves testing and retesting until perfect. A critical aspect is an in-depth understanding of the materials subjected to different states, strengths and tools; in order to reach the core of the material at stake.
During the second stage, the researcher determines the equations that define the problem: this is modeling. Variables always complicate the scenario and as models become more complex, they reach a rigidity that limits
This last ensures a profound and long-term effect on the research. Professor Celentano greatly appreciates the interest of young researchers who join him in this undertaking.
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KNOWLEDGE OF GEOTHERMAL ENERGY IN CHILE
JOSÉ MIGUEL CEMBRANO ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Structural and Geotechnical Engineering Geologist, Universidad de Chile Master of Science, Geology, Western Washington University, United States Doctor of Philosophy, Earth Sciences, Dalhousie University, Canada
José Miguel Cembrano currently leads research to identify the tectonic nature of geothermal reservoirs in the Andes in order to create a map for potential geothermal power generation in Chile.
mineral deposits, is to reduce the unknowns.” Professor Cembrano’s knowledge of the field he is researching is enriched by his doctorate studies at Dalhousie University, Canada.
Cembrano says that energy from the heat field that is spatially associated with volcanoes in Chile is not accurately characterized, which means that the proportions and dimensions of the reservoirs, the main source of geothermal energy, are unknown. “Reservoirs are rock bodies that amass cubic kilometers of volume, filled with pores and crevices. Pores and fractures hold and carry hot liquids,” he says. “If you know the location and characteristics of these reservoirs, you can generate a strategy to extract geothermal energy from them.”
Despite the potential of geothermal energy in Chile, there are several obstacles along the way. The first is the high cost of geothermal reservoir exploration. A standard exploration borehole in a deposit costs around two million dollars. The same geothermal borehole costs about $15 million. “In developed countries, venture capital for such activities has always come first from central government funds,” says Cembrano.
The research, which forms part of the Fondap project Center for Geothermal Excellence in the Andes (Centro de Excelencia de Geotermia de los Andes, CEGA , U. de Chile-UC), has already been underway for three years in the area surrounding the Copahue, Lonquimay and Callaqui volcanoes and aims to create a knowledge base to establish the potential of geothermal energy in Chile. “There are many speculative figures regarding geothermal energy discussed in the market. Some believe it could provide 10% to 15% of the country’s energy matrix, but there is still no solid scientific support for such claims,” says Cembrano. “The ultimate goal is for the government or industrial sector to apply the results of our research so as to have a clearer understanding of the actual potential of geothermal energy resources in Chile. Our work as researchers, as in the exploration of
The second barrier is related to the technology and human capital needed for geothermal exploration in Chile. “There are no Chilean engineers specialized in drilling geothermal reservoirs. This school faces the challenge of training engineers to specialize in this technical field.” Finally, when asked how many years will pass before we can expect to see the development of geothermal energy, Cembrano responds that it depends much more on government priorities and public policies regarding the energy sector than on the discipline of geology itself. “In the best case scenario, maybe five or ten years, if the regulations or legal provisions are in place to make geothermal business more attractive and sustainable,” he concludes.
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A SUSTAINABLE LOOK AT INFRASTRUCTURE MANAGEMENT
ALONDRA CHAMORRO ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Construction Engineering and Management Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science in Engineering, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor of Philosophy in Civil Engineering, University of Waterloo, Canada
Infrastructure management is professor Alondra Chamorro’s field of research, with a focus on that of road infrastructure. The academic has developed tools that facilitate decision making regarding which roads to maintain and how, considering from a sustainable perspective their working life cycles, thus optimizing resources and minimizing the impact on users. Although it sounds like a purely technical issue, public policy is a key component. Beyond the maintenance of individual projects, the issue must be addressed in its entirety and include an assessment of the road system as a whole, ensuring mobility and accessibility of the population in any circumstance. “I am particularly concerned about the most vulnerable rural areas. This field provides a way to develop good public policies that benefit society.” Professor Chamorro’s doctoral thesis at University of Waterloo, Canada, was to develop a sustainable management system for rural roads in developing countries. She developed a computer tool that facilitated government decision making on the maintenance of unpaved roads, prioritizing the road system in technical, economic and social terms. This system considers the population profile and road network, such as civic vulnerability, type of productive activity, access to basic services, as well as an assessment of road conditions, the impact on users and strategic importance of the roads in the system, and finally suggests optimal maintenance
strategies based on a cost-effective and sustainable approach. She continued work in this field in Chile, as alternate director of a multidisciplinary project that involved the participation of three professors from the School of Engineering and a professor from the School of Law. The purpose of the project is to create an urban pavement management system, aimed at improved decision making on the maintenance of city pavements. The professor is responsible for determining damage evolution and assessment over time, and recommends optimal maintenance standards and prioritization of road network maintenance on an on-going basis. It is an innovative, world-class project that contemplates a joint effort with all stakeholders from both the public and private sectors. Professor Chamorro also runs a project for developing low-volume road behavior models to determine performance over time, while her understanding of road infrastructure has also brought her into the field of natural disasters. In CIGIDEN, a center dedicated to the management of natural disasters, she serves as associate researcher, assessing vulnerabilities in the road network infrastructure and working life cycles and proposing mitigation measures to ensure the provision of services and connectivity in Chile in the event of a natural disaster.
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MACHINES AT WORK
LUCIANO CHIANG PROFESSOR Department of Mechanical and Metallurgical Engineering Mechanical Engineer, Universidad de Concepción, Chile Master of Science in Electrical Engineering, Stanford University, United States Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University, United States Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University, United States
Professor Luciano Chiang’s field of research includes machines, robots and automated mechanical systems in general. His work has been applied in various industries and has also had an impact on the field of technical education. His developments range from automated simulator systems to renewable energy turbines. During his career he has focused on developing hardware and software for simulating automatic systems, which he uses for both systems design and technical professional education so students can better understand the physical principles of operation. His laboratory has been responsible for the development of a wide range of special vehicles. These include remotely operated electric traction trolleys with up to a 100-ton capacity. The technologies developed have been implemented in the mining, defense, forestry and aquaculture industries. The common thread across all his projects is the engineering of complex systems for machines. The knowledge base employed is Mechatronics. “You need to understand various fields to take our designs out of theory and make them work in practice. Many vehicles and machines that we have developed are currently hard
at work in the mining industry, others in the armed forces. I take great pride in the fact that our machines have come off the drawing board and have been brought to life.” “There is a significant difference between drawing a rocket that goes to the moon and actually sending that rocket to the moon. I feel very proud to have achieved so much.” For professor Chiang, knowledge, technical ability and perseverance are key. Plans don’t always work the first time, which is why simulation and prediction through mathematical models are essential. Mechatronics combines mechanical engineering, electronics and computing to create the machines he manufactures. In addition to the actual machines, professor Chiang has also innovated in his work with new simulation schemes and modeling methods. Energy-generating machines are the focus of his latest developments, especially marine energy machines. “There are few marine energy turbines in the world, and there are very few of us who are building real turbines. The same is true for heavy-load electric vehicles,” says the professor.
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TIDAL POWER GENERATION IN THE CHACAO CHANNEL
RODRIGO CIENFUEGOS ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master Recherche, Institut National Polytechnique, France Doctor of Philosophy, Institut National Polytechnique at Grenoble (INPG-ENSHMG), France
Chile is considered one of the countries with the greatest potential in the world for harnessing marine energy. The potential use of this energy source has led professor Rodrigo Cienfuegos to study and characterize the physical conditions of the Chacao Channel, located in Southern Chile. “This would diversify the energy matrix through renewable energy sources available in our country,” underlines the academic. He began his research in 2010. “Working in the Chacao Channel has been very interesting. It is a magical location,” says the professor. He explains that its characterization would produce potential energy maps for tidal currents in the channel. The project considers the use of technology to determine the essential meteorological, hydrodynamic and environmental variables for assessing the energy resource and interference that might occur between a regenerative energy device farm and the marine environment. Led by professor Cienfuegos, the research has also involved the design and implementation of hydrodynamic modeling tools. “These tools can be used to assess and predict the site’s energy production and volume,” he explains.
After conducting field measurements on the sea floor of the channel, the project team decided to undertake more detailed studies in a specific section, which was identified as a potential site for tidal energy extraction. “We have seen the influence of the sea floor on the type of circulation that occurs with the flow in the Chacao Channel.” The professor also referred to the work conducted in conjunction with the School of Biological Sciences, such as the contribution made by professor Juan Carlos Castilla, who contributed to the research by surveying the marine life in the channel. “We have identified the marine biodiversity of the site and have learned to identify different species.” Following the results of this research, professor Cienfuegos anticipates that the next step will be to select a specific location for a more detailed study and to install devices for pilot studies. “We hope this research will contribute to the identification of resources and conditions in Chile for the development of this type of energy.”
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HOW TO MANAGE HEALTH AND SAFETY RISKS
LUIS CIFUENTES ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science in Civil Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University, United States Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University, United States
Professor Luis Cifuentes’ research cannot be limited to paper or contained behind four walls. His work in environmental risks, health and safety assessment and management is required to support public decision making. He holds a doctorate degree in engineering and public policy from Carnegie Mellon University, and has expertise in assessing the impact and regulation of air pollution, in assessing risk perception among the population and in managing natural disasters.
In terms of risk management, the professor is researching community perceptions and acceptability of risk situations by the population. “There is no activity or technology that doesn’t put society at risk in some way. Apart from the objective risk assessment, people’s perception is essential and sometimes overrides acceptability of the technology. In the case of electric power generation, this aspect has been fundamental. If you don’t consider it, you cannot make good decisions.”
The results of his research in air pollution management, including its impacts on health, a social assessment of measures for reducing it and its relationship with the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, have been the raw material for decontamination plans in chilean cities and for the issuing of a primary environmental quality standard for fine particles, among other regulations.
In his work as director of CIGIDEN, the National Research Center for Integrated Natural Disaster Management (Centro Nacional de Investigación para la Gestión Integrada de Desastres Naturales), he was able to integrate many aspects of his previous work. “Disasters caused by natural events present major challenges. Their origin is not controllable, but their consequences are. Risk preparedness and mitigation is a task that combines physical (engineering) and social aspects, such as the behavior of individuals and communities. It is a great opportunity to integrate knowledge from different fields to effectively reduce the impact of natural phenomenon in Chile. We hope to make a positive contribution to the country.”
“The goal of my work is to generate information that is as objective as possible to assist in the public decision-making process with respect to environmental quality and risk management, in order to maximize social welfare,” says the professor. “Although there are international precedents, we often need to obtain local models or values t hat are relevant for Chile. It’s not enough to extrapolate the international experience.”
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INCREASINGLY INTERESTING COMPLEX SYSTEMS
ALDO CIPRIANO PROFESSOR Department of Electrical Engineering Electrical Engineer, Universidad de Chile Master of Electrical Engineering, Universidad de Chile Doktor-Ingenieur, Technische Universität München, Germany
Not all engineers have their sights set on highly complex processes. Those who do have the task of examining the set of components of a system and generating models, determining their parameters and acting on them in real time. Professor Aldo Cipriano thrives on this increasing complexity that he feels grows more interesting by the day.
His work has included the development of sensors, but it’s his big picture perspective that gives strength to his work: “We must incorporate the upper management big business vision.” His control tests include objectivefunctions and constraints, not just with technical components, but with economic and environmental ones as well.
He remembers the expansion of the mining industry in 1972, when he witnessed the first steps in automating ore concentration: “purely analog systems”. Today, the digital world changes everything.
In the control room of a plant, many processors and automated components communicate with each other, and with the operators who handle them. “People need to be properly integrated with the technology, to understand how the actions of one person impact the others.”
“It’s a world where you must react quickly”, he says. Getting to know the processes, delving deep into mathematics, computing and electronics, together with other academics or his team of engineers and doctoral candidate students, he has designed solutions for many systems (cardiovascular circulation; the salmon industry; transport; energy; steel and, above all, the mining industry). He has been supported by Fondecyt, Fondef, CORFO-Innova, mining companies and the European Union. “First we model, we write equations of physical processes,” he says. But models can be pointless if they require too much information. You need to simplify and simulate until you establish a cause-effect relationship, the basis for the control design. Optimization is at stake, but in real time. “We integrate computing with mathematics, with instrumentation and processes,” he says.
His systems are already being applied, but they are also used to train the staff who will manage the processes, acting as distributed intelligence hubs that work in resonance. Professor Cipriano was also in charge of DICTUC S.A., an entity that connects knowledge and technology transfer and extension activities between professors and productive sectors. “This virtuous dialogue between academia and society materializes,” he writes, “through specialized multidisciplinary engineering services that arise from our professors’ innovation projects.” Aldo Cipriano knows the professors. He has served as dean and assistant dean at Universidad Catolica’s School of Engineering, an atmosphere much to his liking: complex. His latest challenge: heading the administration department for post-graduate studies.
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ZOOMING IN ON TRANSPORT
JUAN ENRIQUE COEYMANS PROFESSOR EMERITUS Department of Transport Engineering and Logistics Civil Industrial Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, University of Southampton, United Kingdom Doctor of Philosophy, University of Southampton, United Kingdom
Professor Coeymans can be likened to those photographers who frame the general picture with a wide-angle lens or a more intimate image with a telephoto. When operating on a large scale, his philosophical and theological training come to the foreground, as well as his experience as dean and senior advisor, “always looking at macro issues.” And he does feel a certain contradiction. “In research, I’ve always wanted to go beyond my limits, get to the bottom, probe deeper. It is very limiting on the one hand, but it’s the only way to be scientifically serious. And you don’t miss the big picture. It’s like zooming and screening.” Aware of the complexity of traffic, he and his students and researchers have been developing decision-making intelligence. They created VELUC, a software that determines freeflow velocity in the city from vehicle tracking, and SIGCOM, to optimize isolated traffic lights based on different objectives, such as minimizing delays or stops, or fuel consumption. They also studied the “saturation flux,” how much traffic a street tolerates, and other traffic parameters. His “macro” view has led him and his team to identify psychological causes that determine flows. “We can statistically conclude that the saturation flux of a street is not fixed; it depends on the time of day. In the morning, the streets have greater capacity than in the afternoon.”
The morning rush to get to work or school shortens the intervals between vehicles. The traffic jams in the evenings are worse, as there are longer intervals. He scans models created in developed countries. “Their reality is different.” If you apply micro-simulation models from those countries to our reality, he says, mistakes can be in the 50 to 60% range. If you calibrate them, you can come up with something more reasonable, from 5 to 10%. And he has calibrated almost all of them. Micro-simulation, he explains, leads to a deeper understanding. They are designing a new model. His approach is to take on one vehicle at a time. Everything supports urban policy. To understand what happens, we need to streamline traffic management decisions, or obtain a more precise estimate of the social benefits of transportation projects. Investment into reversing the direction of traffic on a given street may be minimal, but investment in a new subway line is not. An error can be very expensive. This is a more recent discipline, that’s only been in existence for the last 70 or 65 years. “I’ve known all the greats. It’s like having known Newton! I have dined with them, I’ve asked them questions, exchanged emails!” he says with pride. There’s a downside, of course. He quotes a british transport minister who said the problem in Britain was that it had 47 million transport and traffic experts. He laughs, as if he were still president of the Student Union, a post he held in 1968.
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IMPULSE, CROSSROADS AND RISK
After completing her studies as a structural civil engineer, professor Cortázar jumped at the chance to pursue a Master’s degree in Media Studies in New York.
ADJUNCT ASSISTANT PROFESSOR
During her undergraduate studies, she never abandoned her more artistic side, taking all the photography courses offered by the University. She remembers that her teachers frequently did not understand how she could choose to spend tuesday afternoons taking photographs, instead of studying for a test.
Department of Mechanical and Metallurgical Engineering Civil Structural Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master in Media Studies, The New School for Public Engagement, United States Master of Fine Arts Design and Technology, Parsons The New School for Design, United States
or create awareness, or denounce, or whatever the students want to do, depending on their motivations,” she says. “Or if they want, make a device that will change the world, but include creativity, the artistic side, in the design.” After their first semester in the subject, eight students have decided to develop their ideas and make a prototype to present to an investor; a more elaborate project that can receive a push toward the market.
Before moving to New York, she worked at a structural engineering office, practicing what she had learned: calculations and seismic analysis.
She wants to emphasize integration in the study of objects, for example, a beam to the real world; to relate; to understand the usefulness of what we study.
Once she finished her degree in Media Studies, she was accepted into one of the most prestigious schools in the world: Parsons New School of Design, also in New York, where Catalina contributed her engineering degree and earned her second master’s degree in design and technology.
She recalls the diversity of the student body: “obviously among those 700 who enter, there are different abilities.” She doesn’t want those who, like her, are moved by artistic expressions previously unheard of in engineering to feel suffocated.
Her current challenge, in collaboration with professor Constanza Miranda, is to open up the world of engineering to freshmen through the course “Engineering challenges”. She says she has now found the school where she would have liked to have studied herself. Together with her students, she also researches innovation processes arising out of posing real challenges to creativity. “The school has a major creative potential,” she says. Cortázar lives and works at a crossroads of the two worlds: “apply the best scientific and engineering knowledge to creative things that can change the world,
Professor Cortázar moves within risk. “The most important thing for any life-changing decision, any discovery, is not being afraid to fail. If people are trapped by the fear of what people might say if they fail, if you waste two years doing something... You have to realize what you can contribute!” She encourages risk, motivates branching out, balancing different facets of yourself, bringing them together, asking her students, as was her case, for example, what they might have learned in photography that could also be applied to engineering.
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AN OBJECTIVE LOOK AT THE FINANCIAL MARKET
GONZALO CORTÁZAR PROFESSOR Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering Industrial Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Business Administration, University of California, Los Angeles, United States Master of Arts, University of California, Los Angeles, United States Doctor of Philosophy, University of California, Los Angeles, United States
Professor Gonzalo Cortázar’s expertise lies in financial instruments and their valuation in the market. He has developed numerous research projects in this field in recent years, mainly focused on the impact of the lack of liquidity in financial markets. “The problems of a developing country, of an emerging financial market, come from the fact that financial instruments, such as bonds for example, are traded very infrequently. Therefore, there is considerable uncertainty about the correct price of the financial instruments at any given moment.” Aware of this problem for over 10 years, the professor set about to research market valuation and later generated a service unit that provides objective information on the value of financial assets, which has had a great impact in Chile. This unit, called RiskAmerica, is an extension project of the university that provides services to the entire financial industry, delivering estimated valuations through economic and mathematical models about the expected worth of different financial investments at any given time. “It is important to have objective valuations to estimate the values o f interest rates, bond prices, spreads, and at any given time with the available information. The entire financial sector, the Central Bank of Chile and regulators use that information to make decisions regarding the value of assets and even of projected inflation.”
The professor and his team have made a significant contribution to the development of the financial market. They paved the way for a new line of certifications that value asset prices with the support of a higher education institution and no conflict of interest. “The mere fact that there is objective information in the market eliminates the asymmetry of information between the various agents. It’s very different for a company or a bank that is negotiating with another to know the opinion of an independent entity rather than just that of its counterpart. And this facilitates the growth of the financial market.” The models used by the professor are rooted in the literature of developed markets, but with a special emphasis on the problems of liquidity. Gonzalo Cortázar says that “there are financial models that assume a stochastic process for interest rates or for different types of underlying assets that generate risk, and noarbitrage models are applied to prices, in an attempt to infer what instrument prices would prevent arbitration.” Gonzalo Cortázar also focuses on the application of theories of real options to investment processes to support investment decisions and the stochastic behavior of commodity options, such as oil and copper.
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TECHNOLOGY-BASED INNOVATION AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN HIGHER EDUCATION
ALFONSO CRUZ ADJUNCT ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science in Industrial Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States Doctor of Technological Innovation, University of Sussex, United Kingdom
Professor Alfonso Cruz has addressed science, technology and innovation management policies throughout his career, not only as a teacher and professional, but also as a researcher. One of his current projects is a characterization of the status and evolution of research, development, innovation and entrepreneurship systems (R & D + i + e) of 17 leading universities in Latin America. Their relevance lies in the fact that the growth of technological knowledge knows no bounds and shows increasing returns in productivity, unlike traditional productive factors such as capital and labor, which exhibit diminishing returns. The study yields important insights. “Activating a university to generate knowledge flows from their inception to their social application involves structuring complex processes, ad-hoc and long-term policies and expertise,” says the professor, who led Universidad Católica’s Innovation department from 2010 to 2012. While the 17 universities studied show a high level of heterogeneity, the study observed sustained significant progress across the board in different dimensions. For
example, professor Cruz’s research observed 60% increases in invention disclosures, 74% in university patents, 114% in licensing contracts and 25% in the number of spin-offs created during the study period (2007-2010). All universities analyzed have an OTL (Office of Technology Licensing) and business incubators, and most have a Center for Entrepreneurship. “Regardless of these high growth rates, the universities still have a long way to go. Their baseline in these areas is low on an international scale,” states the professor, who enumerates some of the challenges: cross over from basic to applied research; increase knowledge transfer from R & D; emphasize an international approach to intellectual property; and increase R & D resources from private sources in addition to public funding. The professor provides insight on the current university scenario: “These institutions have a valuable opportunity to increase their social relevance and influence through a systematic and significant transfer of knowledge, creating new value and contributing to the economic and social development of their respective countries.”
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DISRUPTIVE INNOVATION IN EARTHQUAKE ENGINEERING
JUAN CARLOS DE LA LLERA DEAN OF THE SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING PROFESSOR Department of Structural and Geotechnical Engineering Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, University of California, Berkeley, United States Doctor of Philosophy, University of California, Berkeley, United States
One of Juan Carlos de la Llera’s main areas of research in earthquake engineering is the development of technology that can be used to solve problems with a significant social impact. The professor was selected as the Endeavor Entrepreneur of the Year in 2011 for his contribution to the development of anti-seismic technology through Sirve S.A., a Universidad Católica spin-off formed with a group of professors and students from the School of Engineering. He spent over ten years trying to convince architects and developers that seismic protection of structures is a basic need and not a luxury. The earthquake that struck Chile in 2010 proved him right, demonstrating the effectiveness of the devices in all of the structures with his anti-seismic technology. De la Llera carefully balances his work as researcher with his entrepreneurial activities. “For me it is a continuum. I have never made a distinction between more basic research and implementing real-life solutions,” he says. Teamwork is an essential part of this, and he has developed 13 technologies in collaboration with his students. These include seismic isolation devices such as elastomeric, frictional and kinematic isolation; viscoelastic, frictional and viscous energy dissipation mechanisms; and semi-intelligent systems that change their properties, recognizing the type of movement experienced by the structure. Short-term transfer from theory to practice is possible, as seen in the recent installation of viscous devices in an important building in Peru as part of a project that he developed with one of his graduate students two years earlier.
The professor works with a clear objective: “We want this technology to penetrate every piece of infrastructure in Chile -the mining industry, hospitals and school systems- to ensure that no structure goes unprotected and that this seismic insurance reaches everyone regardless of socio-economic conditions.” The challenges involve finding mechanisms for lowering the costs of these technologies and positioning them globally. His recent interests in the interface between engineering and other fields such as sociology, medicine, biology, geophysics and mathematics, has led him to explore the application of his knowledge in linear and nonlinear dynamics to other applications. He also works on the integration of structural engineering and geophysics. “We have to look at everything in a systemic way, from the characterization of ground motions to the materials an engineer needs to design a safe structure,” he says. Through his participation in the National Research Center for Integrated Natural Disaster Management (Centro Nacional de Investigación para la Gestión Integrada de Desastres Naturales- CIGIDEN), he also studies, among other several topics in structural response and fragilities, the interaction between humans and structures in problems of evacuation under life-threatening circumstances. How does a person interact in the changing physical environment under extreme conditions? This is another interface that professor Juan Carlos de la Llera explores: “There is probably a new world for seismic engineering here.”
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INFRASTRUCTURE MANAGEMENT SERVING THE COUNTRY HERNÁN DE SOLMINIHAC PROFESSOR Department of Construction Engineering and Management Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, The University of Texas at Austin, United States Doctor of Philosophy, The University of Texas at Austin, United States
Professor Hernán de Solminihac studies the behavior and current state of infrastructure, using mathematical models to identify actions that can be undertaken to ensure certain levels of service over a period of time. “It is possible to estimate the investment required and when it should be made in order to maintain a certain standard,” he explains. His experience in the study of construction processes and techniques and infrastructure management has been recognized nationally and internationally, leading to his appointment to head the Ministry of Public Works in 2010 and the Ministry of Mining in 2011. It was during his first ministerial post that he had to deal with events that escaped all mathematical models: the consequences of the 27 February 2010 earthquake. According to the academic, the most important factor in such circumstances is to be “able to react in time,” in order to think about people’s needs and identify the most effective reconstruction techniques. “Dealing with an earthquake connected me with people and public services quite dramatically and quickly. It was a valid experience that helped us make headway in terms of reconstruction, laying the foundations for the continued infrastructure growth of our country.” Furthermore, professor De Solminihac took part in the Advisory Council of the Ministry of Public Works, which monitored the technical and financial aspects of a planned bridge to cross the Chacao Channel. “I am proud of the work we have undertaken to improve people’s quality of life. It has been fantastic to continue to contribute in this way,” he states. In regard to the country’s productivity, which is another concern of his, the former minister says, “I am very interested in mining. In recent years we have seen a significant drop in output: the question is how to improve this situation so that this industry, which is so important to the country, can provide more resources to the national budget and thus to social development
projects? This is why I encourage our students to be important players in the growth of Chile,” he says. The professor’s interest in civil engineering can be traced back to his youth in the city of Puerto Montt, where he developed a desire to understand how to construct the buildings, bridges and roads that connect chileans from north to south. This led him to focus his research on infrastructure management. These studies eventually led to the publication of two books: “Construction processes and techniques” coauthored with the academic Guillermo Thenoux of the UC School of Engineering and “Highway infrastructure management”. The first summarizes the academic work of both professors and is meant to assist in the formation of students and professionals who are initiating construction activities, with the emphasis placed on the studies of project budgets. The second text addresses concepts used in engineering in systems applied to the State or private management of road infrastructure, such as the technical evaluation of paving, estimates of future technical requirements, and the economic evaluation and optimization of solutions. “I have focused on this in order to make operations more efficient in the timeframe of a given works project. Once a project is built, we need to know how to technically and economically operate it. That is to say, we need to identify what needs to be done to benefit users with the available resources,” he states. Both books have been well received in Chile and abroad. “They have contributed to the training of people who apply this knowledge in their work on a daily basis. That motivates us to keep working,” says the professor. Professor de Solminihac has also participated in university management, serving as dean of the UC Faculty of Engineering and director of DICTUC, the applied research and outreach unit of the university’s School of Engineering.
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THE UNKNOWN QUALITIES OF CO2
JOSÉ MANUEL DEL VALLE ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Chemical Engineering and Bioprocesses Industrial Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, University of Illinois, United States Doctor of Philosophy, University of Guelph, Canada
“Chile benefits from natural resources that are very high-quality or only found in this country,” says professor Del Valle. Its biodiversity is the source of countless natural compounds used in drugs, cosmetics and food. In recent years, the market for functional and nutraceutical foods has boomed, opening opportunities for Chile to become a protagonist. But this is not a simple challenge: quality and quantity demands are on the rise. The industry increasingly restricts the variety and volume of solvent in the separation processes, further exacerbating the level of difficulty. What to do? The answer is simple: use CO2 taken from the air. This common gas was the protagonist in professor Del Valle’s thesis project. In the 1980s, he recalls, he didn’t have the equipment he has access to today: a world-class laboratory obtained after years of presenting projects and raising funds. What makes CO2 so special? It is a solvent used for obtaining high quality extracts. It is innocuous and its elimination leaves no traces in the final products, however the process is not trivial. The CO2 must be converted into a solvent because under normal conditions it is an inert gas. This optimum or “supercritical” state is reached at high pressures and above its critical temperature. This CO2, not gas or liquid, is very versatile and can be adjusted to our extraction needs.
“A small change in conditions changes everything, particularly solubility,” says the professor. To remove the essential oils of rosemary, for example, you need to work at 12 megapascals, i.e., 120 times the ambient pressure. To obtain natural pigments such as lycopene from tomato, it takes at least 55 megapascals, 550 times the ambient pressure. There is no roadmap for each compound. Research is required to understand, model and optimize the extraction process. The professor emphasizes that the treatment of the material prior to extraction is a dominant factor. As with food, where the microstructure determines its texture, in this case the microstructure directly affects the extraction behavior. This information is vital to the mathematical models proposed by the professor. “We have progressed in design processes, scaling and cost estimation,” he says. The possibilities are endless. Businesses looking for extracts generally send their raw materials to industries abroad. Now they are offered an analysis of costs and purification methods for producing natural extracts locally. In the future there is a possibility that local firms may provide a platform for the extraction of natural compounds for Latin America, so boosting the entire region.
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OPTIMIZATION OF AIR TRANSPORT
FELIPE DELGADO ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Transport Engineering and Logistics Industrial Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
In Chile, as is the case in the rest of the world, air travel is essential for fast, efficient and reliable connections, both for domestic and international journeys. Professor Felipe Delgado is interested in developing projects in this area and states there is a need for research based on the characteristics of Chile, which are very different from those found in other countries. With a focus on passenger and cargo air transport, the professor says that “these are two very different worlds.” He is currently working with the Latam Airlines Group. “They’re interested in optimizing their processes” he says. Professor Delgado began developing exploration projects for cargo, which has not been as far developed as the passenger area. He explains that some cargo arrives at the last minute and other cargo is booked months in advance so it can reach its destination. “If I have an aircraft and I anticipate that it’s going to be full, how much space should I reserve for orders arriving early and how much for those arriving at the last minute?” proposes the academic. The professor explains that a last-minute cargo service has a higher cost. If all space is filled with cargo that was paid for a month in advance, the company loses
the chance to sell space at a higher price, resulting in financial loss. “The idea is to determine the total space of the aircraft, how much to assign for cargo with advanced booking, and how much for last-minute cargo, in order to maximize flight revenues.” Professor Delgado works with the airline’s database. He conducts a statistical analysis to estimate the cargo requirements per flight and then uses mathematical programming elements to solve the problem. “We are analyzing the cargo demand, whether it’s too variable, whether it depends on the type of cargo, the route and competitors.” The professor is currently studying the Europe-Latin America route in order to determine the optimal anticipated and last-minute reserved space, thereby maximizing company revenues and delivering a quality service to users. He says there are also other air transport issues that he wants to study in the future. He is concerned with connectivity and the growth of the Santiago international airport. “In terms of runways, the airport is perfect, but its operational mode reduces its capacity.” These are some of the challenges that professor Delgado foresees in the development of the airline market in Chile.
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TISSUE ENGINEERING AND REGENERATION
TOMÁS EGAÑA ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Institute of Biological and Medical Engineering Engineer in Molecular Biotechnology, Universidad de Chile Doctor in Human Biology, Universität zu Lübeck, Germany Doctor in Pharmacology, Universidad de Chile Doctoral (c), Experimental Plastic Surgery, Technische Universität München, Germany
“Millions of people worldwide suffer from injuries, many of which do not regenerate or heal. This leads to huge costs both in the quality of life of patients and the health system in general.” That was one of the motivating factors that led professor Egaña to practice regenerative medicine, transforming biomaterials into smart products that can encourage tissue regeneration. After three years working in a Tissue Engineering center in Lübeck, Germany, and another seven leading a research team at the Hospital of the Technical University of Munich, professor Egaña learned how to develop these smart materials by combining them with other molecules or cells. This knowledge led to a line-2 project funded by Chile’s Economic Development Agency (CORFO) to create photosynthetic artificial skin. “We are incorporating plant cells into biomaterials in order to generate a material that carries out photosynthesis, that is to say, one that is capable of producing oxygen in the presence of light. In a first stage, the aim is to use these photosynthetic materials to treat chronic ulcers or to cure wounds that do not heal due to the low availability of oxygen in the
tissue.” This technology, based on the use of microalgae and invented and patented by professor Egaña, has been termed “photosynthetic tissue engineering” and has demonstrated a satisfactory response in animal models such as fish, mice and pigs. “Another advantage of these microalgae is that they can be genetically modified so that in addition to oxygen, they release other therapeutic molecules such as pharmaceuticals or growth factors.” This is a method that could also be used to activate other materials such as surgical sutures. In order to understand and develop new technologies for use in regenerative medicine, professor Egaña has also been studying conditions that favor or hinder tissue regeneration. Among others, he established a model to study why constant physical activity favors regeneration. He has also investigated the toxic effects of cigarette smoke for the regenerative process, a study that has recently received funding as a regular Fondecyt project, and which seeks to establish new technologies for generating innovative smoke filters for cigarettes.
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BIOMASS AND SUSTAINABLE CHEMISTRY
NÉSTOR ESCALONA ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Chemical Engineering and Bioprocesses, Faculty of Chemistry Chemist, Universidad de Santiago de Chile Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry, Universidad de Santiago de Chile
With approximately 70 ISI publications to his credit, professor Escalona has devoted the last 13 years of his work to research in the areas of environmental decontamination, energy production and the synthesis of chemical products via catalytic processes. Around ten years ago, professor Escalona was working on upgrading petroleum through the removal of sulfur using the “hydrotreatment” catalytic process. However, as a result of his time in France undertaking post-doctoral studies in hydrotreating reactions at the “Institute for Research on Catalysis and Environment” (IRCELYON), he expanded his research to include the use of catalytic materials in sustainable chemistry. Over the last decade, he has served as Chairman of the Catalysis and Adsorption Division of the Chilean Society of Chemistry, and has been working on research dedicated to new alternative forms of energy and the synthesis of chemical platform compounds obtained from biomass derivatives. This is an area comprising all organic waste of a lignocellulosic origin which can be transformed and “upgraded” into more beneficial products such as phenol, benzene, toluene, cyclohexanone and furan. The latter compounds are all fundamental for a variety of chemical industries in the areas of polymers or adhesives.
These compounds are sustainable alternatives, and are currently obtained from petroleum derivatives. “Biomass is a very attractive alternative strategy for obtaining various chemicals with high value added using heterogeneous catalysis. Furthermore, using these processes it is possible to acquire biofuels of excellent quality and even aviation fuel (jet fuel).” Two main reasons led professor Escalona to broaden the horizons of his research: the unavoidable future depletion of oil reserves, and the negative impact that fossil fuels have on the environment. “Chemistry, especially catalysis, has a great potential to solve these problems. This has led me to study different materials as catalysts in order to identify new alternatives of synthesis according to the ‘biorefinery’ concept.” Professor Escalona adds that from an environmental perspective, the transformation of biomass derivatives into chemical and biofuel products does not contribute to the greenhouse effect, as these processes can be considered CO2 neutral. In addition, he also points out that these same elements may be attractive because they are renewable and sustainable.
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TURBULENCE IN NATURE: FROM RIVER DYNAMICS TO RENEWABLE ENERGIES
The study of turbulent flow dynamics applied to environmental engineering and science issues is the main area of research of Cristián Escauriaza.
Using advanced computer simulations, professor Escauriaza uses field measurements and laboratory experiments to study the physical processes that occur in nature and so better understand the mechanisms that control fluvial morphodynamics, sediment transport in rivers, and dispersion and cross-contamination of pollutants in aquatic environments. In recent years, his research has focused on central and northern Chile, particularly the upper river basin of the Lluta River located in the high plateau (altiplano) region of Arica and Parinacota. The unique conditions of this region, located 4000 m.a.s.l., require an integration of the multiple fields of engineering and earth sciences to understand the mechanisms that control the destination of pollutants, sediment erosion and deposits, along with human impacts and future scenarios in the use of water resources.
Department of Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, Georgia Institute of Technology, United States Doctor of Philosophy, University of Minnesota, United States
“We have studied hydrodynamic issues such as river confluences and the interaction of these flows with other environmental processes. We work with other professors and researchers to address these complex problems from a multidisciplinary perspective and according to a wide range of scales. Small-scale flow turbulence processes often have important effects throughout the river system,” explains Escauriaza. In addition to new discoveries concerning the interaction of turbulence with sediment and contaminant transportation, professor Escauriaza has developed models to study flow developed by hydrokinetic turbines, creating new tools to study the impact of power generation devices with tidal currents. His recent research focuses on the study of flash floods, which commonly occur in mountainous regions of Chile. “A curiosity to learn more about the fundamental processes of nature and the overall relationship between water, energy and the environment, have motivated me to tackle complex applied problems to improve engineering design.”
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THE CHALLENGE OF DEVELOPING RENEWABLE ENERGY
RODRIGO ESCOBAR ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Mechanical and Metallurgy Engineering Civil Engineer in Mechanics, Universidad de Santiago de Chile Master of Science, Carnegie Mellon University, United States Doctor of Philosophy, Carnegie Mellon University, United States
The global demand for more efficient energy production goes hand in hand with the need to protect and care for the environment. Chile is an energy importer and its energy matrix is dominated by dirty, non-renewable fossil fuels. Professor Rodrigo Escobar has set his sights on Northern Chile, an area with some of the best solar radiation levels in the world. In 2013, Escobar along with Universidad Católica engineer José Miguel Cardemil, proposed a research project into the use of Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plants through polygeneration schemes, electricity generation, waste heat, solar cooling and water. These four plant outputs are possible with CSP technology, representing the energy needs of industrial, residential and commercial activities in Northern Chile. This implies that if there are four market prices for each of the outputs, the plant can establish an optimization criterion for maximum revenue, or an optimization criterion for maximum plant efficiency, which means that the solar energy would be converted most efficiently. Accordingly, one of the research objectives is to formulate thermo-economic models that simulate plant
operation and optimize each output based on a given optimization criteria. One of the main findings, professor Escobar explains, is that solar radiation varies at different temporal scales. Traditionally, plants are simulated with a formulation called Typical Meteorological Year (TMY). If a plant with a 20-year useful life is simulated, all years are equal to the average, but this does not consider variability. Escobar has found that if a plant with a long-standing existence of various years is simulated, the sum of the plant output is very different from the typical 20year scenario. “We want to identify the relationship between resource variability, uncertainty in production predictions and formulation in a typical year”, he says. “We could use this project to build a scientific knowledge base for the development of technologies of Concentrated Solar Power in Chile,” says Escobar. “The optimum and rational use of poly-generation schemes will improve the energy conversion efficiency of the energy system, helping to reduce dependence on external energy sources, in addition to increasing Chile’s energy security.”
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DETERMINISTIC AND CONCURRENT: CUTTINGEDGE PROGRAMMING
YADRAN ETEROVIC ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Computer Science Electrical Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, University of California, Los Angeles, United States Doctor of Philosophy, University of California, Los Angeles, United States
Professor Yadran Eterovic specializes in software engineering and concurrent computing, specifically in concurrent data structures, which allow multiple processes to work without encumbering each other in devices with more than one CPU. He began to explore this field years ago when most electronic devices had only one CPU, but has resumed his research to meet current needs to simplify programming.
of two, four or eight at a time instead of one by one. If the data being searched was farther away, the range of skips was greater to reduce the search time.” The problem with these structures is that their behavior is probabilistic, which means the structures may weaken when information is inserted or removed.
Computer programming should be able to make use of these additional resources on a single device to make then work better and faster. “For applications to run faster you have to alter their programming. Traditional programming for a single CPU is no longer effective.”
Search trees, on the other hand, have a strong deterministic behavior, which leads to the question: How can these properties be maintained so that the tree remains useful but allows multiple concurrent access? Eterovic worked with his graduate students to test a type of binary search tree called red-black trees, and added a concurrent component.
Data structure is crucial. “Until about five years ago, skip lists represented the more complex parallelized structure. These provided a way to analyze data in groups
“If we can prove a solid concurrent structure performance that is in fact superior to the probabilistic alternatives, I think that its reception will be very positive.”
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SOLUTIONS FOR URBAN DRAINAGE, HYDROLOGICAL MODELS AND DESIGN OF HYDRAULIC WORKS
BONIFACIO FERNÁNDEZ PROFESSOR EMERITUS Department of Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, Colorado State University, United States Doctor of Philosophy, Colorado State University, United States
The department of Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering (DIHA) began to conduct research on issues of urban drainage with the development of the Design Guide for BMP techniques in Urban Areas developed for MINVU in 1996, which subsequently he complemented by research in Fondef project, also led by Bonifacio Fernández, to develop together with several public and private institutions, standardized systems of storm water in neighborhoods and houses, which were proposed elements for infiltration, quality filters and permeable paving among other proposals. A recent contribution to the management and problemsolving of storm water was the development of the Urban Drainage Manual for the Department of Water Resources, Ministry of Public Works (MOP), led by Fernández, in order to guide the solutions for storm water problems in all urban areas of Chile, in conjunction with MOP, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (MINVU), municipalities, developers, builders and designers. Meanwhile, Fernández, has also participated in the design and optimization of complex hydraulic works by building and studying them in hydraulic laboratory models. Recent projects include hydroelectric plants such as Cheves in Peru; diversion work for reservoir
construction (Melado, San Pedro, Baker 1 and Pascua); bottom outlet discharges (Colbún and Baker 1); spillways for reservoir flood runoff (Los Leones, Pilmaiquén, Osorno and Los Lagos). He has also recently completed a study of dissipation chambers for the Azapa canal, rejection spillway for a hydroelectric plant on the Manso River, an intake in the Nuble River, a mobile barrier in the Biobio River and a rock fill dam for Andalién river. A model to design and optimize a morning glory type spillway of a tailing dam is under way. Fernández has also been studying the behavior of droughts. In the 1980s, he employed stochastic hydrology as a method for characterization of meteorological, hydrological and agricultural drought in central Chile. He later proposed methods for estimating the probability of the occurrence of specific droughts in semi-arid areas. A methodology is also proposed to declare extraordinary drought in Chile as one of the responsibilities of the DGA in managing water resources. Recently he writes a chapter on Drought Characteristics for the new Hydrological Handbook of the ASCE. This line of work involves the development of methods and models for medium-term prediction of flows for hydroelectric plants, through a Fondef project.
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A CERTAIN UNCERTAINTY
JUAN CARLOS FERRER ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering Undergraduate degree in Civil Industrial Engineering, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master’s degree in Engineering Sciences, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Professor Ferrer maximizes his time while he is out and about. During his visits to the supermarket or department stores, he takes the opportunity to observe the inventories, the length of the aisles, and pricing inconsistencies in order to determine whether it is possible to improve any operational aspect of retail. After all, that’s the focus of his research.
policies through demand models. He has developed inventory management and pricing policy models in retail and agroindustry that have been applied in important institutions and companies throughout Chile. These models have reduced inventory levels while maintaining or increasing the companies’ level of service and allowing clients to consistently find what they are looking for.
He didn’t intend to pursue a career in academia. He trained to serve as an engineer in a public agency or in a private company. But then he began to conduct research. Today he says that research is “the ingredient that makes a career in academia fascinating.”
This experience also led to work in the public sphere through a project that involved addressing inventory issues in a large Santiago hospital. He hopes to successfully replicate the work throughout the country’s network of public hospitals.
He is most excited by uncertainty. Research nurtures an academic career through its uncertainty and the relationships that it allows him to develop with students and others.
In the area of workforce management, which seeks to optimize the system of shifts of a group of workers, he focused on adjusting the shift systems of many retail companies in Latin America in collaboration with professor Juan Carlos Muñoz. There was a need to build a model that would allow sales staff to be available at peak times. It worked. His attention then turned to adjusting to the restrictions presented by the types of workers on the team, their preferences, days of the week, seasons, labor laws, and union agreements. His work led to the creation of a company that currently manages the shifts of fifty thousand employees. “People are happier,” he says, thanks to “that research and the team that we work with.”
He empathizes with the basic researcher, but he is focused on applied topics such as revenue and workforce management, developing models and applications for improving people’s lives and adding value to many public and private organizations. He wrote his dissertation on setting prices for product bundles such as laptops. The main question that he sought to answer was: What level of quality should each component have in order to reach a price that generates profit margins and satisfies the client? From there, he moved on to the issue of revenue management, which optimizes pricing and inventory
For professor Ferrer, a certain degree of uncertainty spices up the efforts that lead to success.
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IN SEARCH OF MICROORGANISMS AND BETTER BREAD
WENDY FRANCO ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Chemical Engineering and Bioprocesses School of Nutrition and Dietetics Food Engineer, Universidad de Nuestra Señora de La Paz, Bolivia Industrial Engineering, Universidad de Nuestra Señora de La Paz, Bolivia Master of Science, Food Science, University of Florida, United States Doctor of Philosophy, Food Science, North Carolina State University, United States
Professor Franco specializes in quinoa, a product she has always been familiar with as a staple in the diet of her native Bolivia, and she views it as a source of protein for the world. Quinoa is a pseudo cereal that in Chile is grown in the north, some parts of the central zone and in Patagonia in the south. Professor Franco emphasizes its protein content: it contains 20 essential amino acids. “It is a super food,” she states. She works with three colors of quinoa: white, red and black, which produce three different types of flour, and studies their fermentation, which is essential when making good bread. This is part of her mission to create healthy, safe and consumer-friendly foods. The professor delves into the microbiology of processes, manipulating lactic acid bacteria and yeasts to achieve her goal. And her goal is bread. People that suffer from celiac disease cannot eat gluten, which is normally found in bread or pasta. If they want to eat bread or pasta, these must be made w ith glutenfree flours, which usually result in tasteless, dense and unattractive breads or pastas. They also lack essential nutrients; those suffering from this illness feel destined to be deprived of what everyone else seems to love. During the first year, Franco studied sourdough, normally used to make sourdough bread or improve whole-wheat
bread. While working with quinoa flour, she wondered which bacteria would grow in quinoa flour if she let it ferment. Working alongside North Carolina State University, she turned herself into a detective of bacteria. Having isolated yeasts and bacteria, she identified strains that produce “Exopolysaccharides”, elements that enhance the sensory characteristic of bread. The discovery of these would allow a natural substitution for the additives used today in gluten-free flours to make the bread fluffier and softer. Her work has already yielded results. “I have characterized the natural microflora that is growing in this fermentation.” Wendy has recognized several bacteria species capable of producing the desired “exopolysaccharides.” The next step is to put these bacteria to work to produce the desired ingredients in sufficient quantities. Once this challenge is met, it will be time to pull out the baker’s hat and calculate quantities in order to get the perfect mix. The last step is to bake the bread and provide samples. “Whether people suffer from celiac disease or not, this is a protein-rich food which would be great to circulate. For example, the State institution responsible for school lunch distribution (JUNAEB), could incorporate it in order to increase the protein provided in children’s diets “, she says.
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CULTIVATION AND IMPROVEMENT OF QUINOA: REASSESSMENT OF AN ANCESTRAL PLANT FRANCISCO FUENTES ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry Department of Chemical Engineering and Bioprocesses School of Medicine Agronomy Engineer, Universidad de Concepción, Chile Doctor in Agricultural and Veterinary Services, Universidad de Chile
The reassessment of quinoa, a pseudocereal belonging to the Amaranthaceae family, has led agronomist Dr. Francisco Fuentes to investigate its origins, genetic diversity and the improvement of its nutritional properties. Quinoa grains are highly nutritious, offering a significant amount of high quality protein and bioactive compounds, with far greater biological value than traditional cereal grains such as wheat or rice. Cultivation of quinoa was developed over five thousand years by the pre-Inca and Incan peoples of the Andes in what is now Peru and Bolivia, and mainly in areas of high mountains and deserts. The domestication of quinoa under adverse weather conditions has allowed the grain to fulfill an important role in terms of securing food and nutritional security, as well as the eradication of poverty, particularly in marginal agricultural areas. Chile has two ecotypes of this plant: salt flat quinoa strains in the North of the country, and coastal or sealevel quinoa in the center and south-central sectors of Chile. Moreover, these ecotypes have been linked to a diversity of production systems, taking into account biophysical, social and cultural aspects. “I started researching how to improve the production of this plant in the arid highlands of northern Chile. To do this, I initiated studies to better understand its genetic diversity and improve its performance and yield. It’s interesting to note that the bioactive compounds present in quinoa make it a super food, with numerous functional
properties that help reduce risk factors – this is due to its anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory and anti-carcinogenic properties,” states Fuentes. Quinoa has gained considerable attention in recent years in far-off countries in Europe, Africa and America. But why has its potential not been exploited in Chile? According to Francisco Fuentes, “This is a cultural problem: given that people ignore its properties and quinoa production in general in our country, and prefer grains in their diet such as rice. Many even consider quinoa to be a lowquality food. People should be educated on the nutritional contents of quinoa and how it can improve the quality of their lives. Such a challenge should be accompanied by a value chain of quinoa production and its derivatives, and at a fair cost for both farmers and consumers.” The academic, who works in the Agronomy and Medicine faculties of the UC, has dedicated his research to understanding the factors that modulate the synthesis of the bioactive compounds in quinoa, in order to improve the biological properties that affect people’s health. We could be face to face with a revolutionary food for the human diet of the 21st century, and “as a country we should study its powerful properties and exploit its production. There are production initiatives in the VI and IX Regions of Chile, and our challenge is to support these. Chemical engineers, through interdisciplinary work, should focus their efforts on foodstuffs that change the industry, and make use of our natural ancestral resources using a sustainable approach.”
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ENHANCING HUMAN CAPITAL IN PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
PATRICIA GALILEA ADJUNCT INSTRUCTOR PROFESSOR Department of Transport Engineering and Logistics Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
In 2007, the urban public transport system in Santiago underwent a profound transformation with the creation of ‘Transantiago’, thus changing the way people move about the city. “Through public transport, we have many ways to improve people’s lives,” says professor Patricia Galilea. She works to understand the behavior of public transport operators and drivers. The professor explains that Transantiago brought about a change in the employment status of drivers. Previously, most drivers owned their buses and had no contracts. Moreover, Transantiago introduced the concept of operators, private companies that shared the different bus routes in Santiago. “This involved a formal bidding process to assign different operators to the routes,” she says.
this research because operators didn’t know how to encourage drivers to meet the goals of Transantiago.” She explains that operators are subsidized based on their reported losses, but “what if operators are inefficient because they know they will be subsidized?” asks Galilea. “There are different ways to analyze how agents behave, depending on the contract scheme they work under.” Galilea’s data analysis indicates that “the subsidy is necessary.” But it also shows that operators are being inefficient and the subsidy should be reduced. Furthermore, she has detected that some operating companies are more efficient than others, depending on the routes they use. “Some face higher congestion levels on their routes compared to others,” she explains.
Drivers now have contracts, which lead to a new problem. Because drivers are no longer paid per passenger, they sometimes skip uncrowded bus stops. The professor explains, “the contracts now dictate the incentives.”
As for the drivers, she says they have the quality of service in their hands. Her research shows the importance of reclaiming the role of drivers. “We need them, but as users of public transport, we do not treat them very well. We treat them quite unfairly,” says Galilea.
Is the incentive given to the operators enough or too much? Is a subsidy needed? If so, what amount? These are some of the questions addressed by professor Galilea’s research, which then led to another project focused on understanding drivers’ behavior. “We started
“Our work deals with extremely interesting and challenging research and has an impact on the development of public policies that benefit society as a whole, because we all travel on a daily basis,” concludes Galilea.
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DANIEL GARRIDO ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Chemical Engineering and Bioprocesses Engineer in Molecular Biotechnology, Universidad de Chile Doctor of Philosophy in Food Science, University of California, Davis, United States
In order to understand the importance of the intestinal microbiome in human health, professor Daniel Garrido, food biotechnologist, studies the interactions inside bacterial communities of the gut microbiome, aiming to rationally modulate their activity and impacting human health. This professor indicates that there are several models to study the influence of the bacterial flora in people, but ethical and economic aspects make it necessary having simple systems that simulate the function of the gut microbiome. Its objective is to use reactors and similar to the intestinal conditions both of the newborn as the adult, to determine if certain foods or drugs are degradable by the microbiome, or if they have some toxicity. The intestinal Microbiome is a complex and environmentally dynamic community that affects several aspects of human health, from the development of the immune system, metabolism of polysaccharides of the diet, and protection against infections. In certain cases the microbiome may contribute to inflammatory or metabolic diseases such as obesity and diabetes. “A fermenter mimics the prevailing intestinal conditions by using representative bacteria,” explains Garrido. He says that there are four to five bacteria that represent the entire community. His research began in late 2013. He explains that he will need to validate a system and then test with several
changes in diet to the fermenter, which will have a stable community of organisms. “We want to study how the bacterial community changes, how it responds to the type of diet it is given,” says the professor. He will use microbiology and molecular tools to study how bacteria respond to these stimuli with dietary changes. What will be the effect on the metabolites that produce these bacteria in the intestine? raises the academic. “These studies also allow us to understand the dynamics between intestinal bacteria, if they compete or cooperate among them. These interactions can also be captured by mathematical models” “We want to understand the importance of this bacterial community and its impact on human health, and also discover other implications that may be helpful for the entire population,” says professor Garrido. In other projects the academic collaborates with medical teams in clinical studies to understand how different treatments for obesity change the composition of the microbiome, e.g. through surgery Bariatric or nutritional treatments. His group uses parallel DNA sequencing and bioinformatics tools. “This allows us to determine with great detail how different bacterial species contribute to obesity or the loss of weight in medical treatments” says Garrido. Finally, the academic is initiating projects to build sensors and treatments for diseases associated with the intestinal microbiome, through synthetic biology and mathematical modeling.
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OPTIMIZING BUSINESS DECISIONS
PEDRO GAZMURI ADJUNCT PROFESSOR Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering Civil Engineer, Universidad de Chile Master in Industrial Civil Engineering, Universidad de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, University of California, Berkeley, United States
Pedro Gazmuri is currently designing a decision-making model to optimize company costs and processes. Gazmuri, team leader at SIMULA UC, an area of DICTUC of the Universidad Católica, specializing in process simulation and optimization, has worked in several economic sectors, including mining, health, logistics and port operations, among others. His team has 30 years of experience in consulting and applied research and uses mathematical modeling and software to simulate production scenarios that explicitly incorporate aspects of variability and uncertainty. Gazmuri and his team are currently developing a project with the newly merged airline LATAM to assess trade routes. The project simulates airline flight routes, considering factors such as weather, and aircraft and crew shortcomings, among others. “The software is used to represent the entire airline flight operation to estimate the precision of the itinerary. It is an extremely complex process where we have tried to develop a simulation in its own language,” says Gazmuri. “This company will be three times greater than LAN, and this new software will provide an assessment of a trade route before implementation in order to understand the effects of this series of disruptions on operations.”
“For example, in a Santiago to Lima flight we would provide the airline’s commercial area with specific information on the actual precision of the flight routes based on the failure factors,” he says. He expects the project to be operational in six months and considers it to be a contribution to the aviation industry and an innovation to the service of the industry. The professor says that some foreign airlines have shown interest in the project. Despite the scale of this project, professor Gazmuri also finds time to conduct research in the field of transportation, specifically on road safety in order to prevent deaths due to traffic accidents. He is also developing ways to systematize social problems such as crime through mathematical modeling. Finally, in conjunction with the National Research Center for Integrated Natural Disaster Management (Centro Nacional de Investigación para la Gestión Integrada de Desastres Naturales- CIGIDEN), Gazmuri is creating an agent-based simulation model to reproduce the evacuation required in Iquique in the event of a tsunami. “The idea is to replicate a catastrophic scenario and propose preventive measures to the appropriate authorities,” concludes Gazmuri.
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THE EMERGENCE OF NEW TOOLS
CLAUDIO GELMI ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Chemical Engineering and Bioprocesses Industrial Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science in Engineering, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, University of Delaware, United States
For professor Gelmi, discovery is his passion. He conducts research, enjoys teamwork, but what excites him most is “when you delve deep into a subject - that’s the most enjoyable thing!” He was in up to his elbows when he developed a computer tool to resolve a complex mathematical problem with full differential equations. Although the tool’s users know nothing of these equations, they are able to use the tool to find a solution to their problems. The tool can be applied in many fields: cell cultures, neuronal transmission, displacement waves, particle dynamics, viscoelastic flows, the spread of pests, for example. He is proud of the result: a publication in the number one journal in the field of mathematical physics: Computer Physics Communications: “ID-SOLVER: A general purpose solver for nth-order integro-differencial equations,” in conjunction with Professor Héctor Jorquera. The tool was developed for the tool library of the great math solutions engine: MATLAB. This platform is like Excel, but more specialized. Only in the United States it is used in over 3000 universities. And of course, it is also used in the School of Engineering at Universidad Católica. “I loved the work because I love programming, I love numerical methods. I’m not a super mathematician, I
understand certain problems and those are the ones that I like, where I tend to dig deeper,” says the professor. And he does what he does to make life easier. When you don’t know how to move forward on a problem because it requires using equations from the integro-differential family, and you know nothing of these equations, this is when the MATLAB ID - SOLVER steps in. Before designing it, they reviewed the literature. There were other options. But the advantage of ID- SOLVER “is that you don’t need to know anything. You write the line, as you would on a spreadsheet, you apply the given function, you input the parameters and the solution appears automatically.” The idea arose from a conversation, “an accident, like many other things that work.” After discussing a problem with Héctor Jorquera, professor Gelmi began to think about unexplored routes. They analyzed the methodology, reviewed the literature and started programming. The work caught the attention of the editor of Computer Physics Communications because “it was very simple, but it solved very complex mathematical problems.” Professor Gelmi’s tool cabinet has no lock. He uses what is already there, but when he needs to, he adds new ones. “That is the beauty of this field,” he says.
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OPTIMIZING TRANSPORT SYSTEM OPERATIONS TO SERVE PEOPLE RICARDO GIESEN ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Transport Engineering and Logistics Industrial Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, University of Maryland, United States
“My motivation is to improve the quality of life,” says professor Ricardo Giesen, specialist in transport and logistics systems, who focuses on optimizing the operation and design of cargo and passenger distribution systems. Through his research, he hopes to solve contingent problems and have a real impact on people. Through applied research he currently co-directs two enterprises, RoutingUC and TransitUC, aimed at applying his research to the real world. RoutingUC optimizes the design of transport fleet routes and operation, developing decision-making support systems based on optimization models, which work together with information and communication technologies to provide geographical information system solutions. TransitUC develops systems to improve the operation of public transport systems. The first RoutingUC project was for the Alfa e Beto de Brasil Foundation, whose mission is to support education in the poorest municipalities. The foundation requested support to improve the efficiency of the school transport system in rural areas. “In Brazil, municipalities are responsible for providing education and transportation to local schools,” said Giesen. Applying optimization methodologies, professor Giesen and the RoutingUC team made proposals to reduce school transport costs by 15% to 30%. He explains that optimization techniques reduce operational costs and improve the level of service. He explains, “People tend to think that cost reduction results in poorer services; however in
many cases we have proven that this is not necessarily the case. Furthermore, you can apply restrictions on the students’ maximum travel time in the models.” One of the main projects being developed by TransitUC is a bus bunching control system. “Bus bunching is commonplace in the dynamics of bus operation. When there are changes in travel times or demand for services, it is common for buses to arrive all at once. This greatly impairs the level of service, because users must wait much longer and when the buses arrive, they are already full,” says Giesen. To avoid this problem, professor Giesen has worked on optimization models to determine how and where to retain buses to prevent bunching and improve the service to users, reducing waiting times or overcrowding on buses. Professor Giesen is also currently working on improving home delivery systems. “How can we optimize system design while simultaneously providing better information to users?” asks professor Giesen. He assures us that they use data surveying to develop business intelligence. But the idea is to take it a step further. “We want to optimize the systems by using information about travel times and service times at each house.” He adds that delivery to a high-density area, where parking is a challenge, is not the same as delivery in a low density area where the vehicle can park in front of the customer’s house. “I hope that my research in the operation of transport and logistics systems will serve to continually help and improve processes,” concludes professor Giesen.
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HUMAN INTERACTION WITH HYDROLOGICAL PROCESSES AND THE ENVIRONMENT
JORGE GIRONÁS ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, Colorado State University, United States
How do humans and their activities affect hydrological processes? How does hydrology behave in environments where human activities take place? How do we manage risk due to hydrometeorological hazards? These are the issues that drive Jorge Gironás. His area of expertise is Hydrology and Water Resources, with applications mainly in urban and semi-urban areas. Jorge Gironás is a specialist in EPA SWMM, the most popular storm water management model in the world, and he is the main author of its application manual. “We use this software to model and analyze urban basins, design and assess drainage facilities, and assess human impacts on receiving water bodies and watercourses.” He also developed the Urban Drainage Manual for the Ministry of Public Works in conjunction with professor Bonifacio Fernández from the department of Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering. This manual is a document of national importance and uses transport, storage and infiltration techniques in the planning, design, implementation and operation of urban drainage solutions at different spatial scales. Understanding the water balance on a residential level is another task that professor Gironás spends time on. “Rain, evapotranspiration, infiltration, and runoff and
base flow generation are processes that have been studied and quantified mainly in agricultural and natural basins. There is still much to learn from these processes in urban basins, where human intervention is high and the local scale is key. A better understanding of these processes would result in more relevant management activities for the city such as irrigation and maintenance of green areas, domestic consumption and storm water flood control.” He primarily works through Universidad Católica’s FONDAP centers, CEDEUS and CIGIDEN, where he applies the results of his research to two significant multidisciplinary problems for the country: sustainable urban development and management of natural disasters. He synthesizes his work in these centers: “We want to understand water and land as key resources, and human beings need to know how to interact with these. This means utilizing structural and nonstructural engineering measures to efficiently use these resources, preserve them and not turn them into a threat to society.” Professor Gironás is also a member of the Center for Global Change at our university and director of the Chilean Society of Hydraulic Engineer (SOCHID-Sociedad Chilena de Ingeniería Hidráulica).
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INNOVATIONS IN CONCRETE CONSTRUCTION
MARCELO GONZÁLEZ ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Construction Engineering and Management Civil Engineer in Civil Works, Universidad de Santiago de Chile Master in Engineering Sciences, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor of Philosophy University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.
Marcelo González is leading the task of developing and adapting different systems and technologies for innovation in concrete constructions. Dr. González integrates knowledge of the properties of concrete with several engineering tools in order to find solutions to problems in the construction industry. These solutions consider advances in planning, modeling and optimization of the processes involved in construction with concrete.
allow us to implement projects that are efficient, cost effective, and more durable, indicates the professor.
Concrete is the most widely used construction material in the world, and in Chile it is incorporated into virtually all types of infrastructure. Given this situation, professor González asserts that, “we must design concrete construction processes so that projects adhere to high standards of quality, safety, economy and durability”.
As a continuation to the work performed as a part of his doctoral thesis, one of the ideas that professor González is exploring is the incorporation of new, locallymanufactured nanomaterials in concrete. Nanoparticles are characterized by a high surface area and play a role in the formation of the concrete microstructure; however, their effect can be observed in significant improvements in the performance of structures at a macro scale. “In the future this technology might be applied on a large scale, there will be a need to design technical specifications, construction processes, and quality control protocols in order to adapt the industry to these new materials,” says the professor.
Knowledge of concrete has advanced significantly and because of the benefits of using this material, projects which are increasingly more complex and demanding have been built. However, at a local level the productivity of this process has been decreasing: therefore there is a demand to innovate construction technologies that
“Research and innovation in the design and optimization of processes of construction with concrete make it possible to collaborate with industry on solutions that have an economic and social impact. Thus we can help to foster a consistent infrastructure plan according to the development needs of the country”, he concludes.
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CREATION OF A CRYOGENIC CHIP FOR HIGH RESOLUTION IMAGES OF THE UNIVERSE
MARCELO GUARINI PROFESSOR Department of Electrical Engineering Electrical Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, University of Arizona, United States Doctor of Philosophy, University of Arizona, United States
“I always felt drawn to digital systems and the microelectronics they involved,” says professor Marcelo Guarini in reference to one of his main passions. He says he had a rough start in this area because it was practically impossible to develop microelectronics in Chile. The inaccessibility and prohibitive cost of the necessary software has been a major obstacle in the development of this industry. However, the situation has slowly begun to change. In 2010 professor Guarini worked with professors Ángel Abusleme, Dani Guzmán and Christian Oberli from the department of Electrical Engineering, to obtain the support of some microelectronic development software manufacturers, and began designing chips that can be applied to different industrial and scientific projects. Professor Guarini currently works to create a cryogenic chip to provide large telescopes with high resolution images. His aim is to reduce the “noise” in the images and the size of the electronics of an astronomical CCD
reading through an integrated circuit that should work at -110oC. “One of our hypotheses is that we can reduce noise by cooling the electronic components,” he explains. The research team has been using a technique used in linear particle accelerator sensors to develop a multi-sampling scheme for each image pixel through a weighted average to further reduce noise. “We have been able to prove noise reduction through computer simulations,” he says. “We believe this may represent a significant advance over the techniques used today,” said the professor. “The impact directly affects the astronomical community and our knowledge of the universe, thereby producing new information about our very origins.” Professor Guarini also works in conjunction with professor Oberli in creating microchips for wireless transmission and data reception to anticipate natural disasters.
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TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER FOR ASTRONOMICAL DEVELOPMENT
ANDRÉS GUESALAGA PROFESSOR Department of Electrical Engineering Industrial Engineer, major in Electricity, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, University of Manchester, United Kingdom
By 2020, Chile will host 70% of the world’s terrestrial observatories. In professor Andrés Guesalaga’s view, this is a great opportunity to contribute to the development of this discipline. His current research focuses on astronomical instrumentation. “We want to contribute and participate in the developments in this field around the world.”
Professor Guesalaga has developed signal processing techniques, which estimate where atmospheric turbulence is located, how high and how intense. In the field of telescope optic device control, the professor says that there is still a long way to go in terms of optimization of control links that regulate the telescopes.
From the vantage point of the department of Electrical Engineering, this professor and researcher for Universidad Católica’s Astro-engineering Center (Centro de Astro-Ingeniería UC) works from the perspective of adaptive optics to address the challenges of the telescopes of the future, which will have the capacity to observe a wide field in the sky. He corrects atmospheric aberrations in real time, improving the resolution of optical systems. The techniques he uses include WideField Adaptive Optics, which create high-quality images of the sky at greater vision fields per arcminute.
Professor Guesalaga, says that this analysis has resulted in a new problem. By optimizing optical measurement techniques and reducing errors, other previously unidentified error sources have appeared. However, he claims that the quality of telescope images has been substantially improving.
At the department of Electrical Engineering laboratory, he develops technologies that can later be transferred to real systems. He also develops signal processing techniques. He uses high-powered computers to perform the tomography, a process that requires a great deal of computer resources.
On academic matters, he says they have developed specialized graduate courses at the University, which address astronomical instrumentation from the visible ultraviolet spectrum to infrared, and they have even created courses for radio astronomy observatories, millimeter and sub-millimeter wave. “We want to contribute to the knowledge of advanced technologies in Chile and reduce the gap with developed nations. We also want to increase the human capital capable of engaging in this type of technology.” he concludes.
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IMPROVING STRUCTURAL PERFORMANCE
SERGIO GUTIÉRREZ ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Structural and Geotechnical Engineering Mathematical Civil Engineer, Universidad de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, Carnegie Mellon University, United States
Professor Gutiérrez researches optimal structural design and specifically focuses on finding the right material distribution to ensure the optimal performance of a structure, which may also include other materials. Examples of this abound in all areas of engineering, explains Gutiérrez. “Where to place the steel reinforcements in a reinforced concrete beam to resist more weight or reduce deformation; or how to best evacuate heat by conduction to prevent the temperature from rising too much.”
Polytechnique to develop the optimization method based on small amplitude homogenization, which has allowed the development of efficient computational algorithms to detect defects in structural components, stress concentration control and other applications. The first aspect has been verified experimentally, he notes. He explains it proudly, in part because he was a doctoral student of Luc Tartar, “the person with the greatest influence on the development of the theory of homogenization.”
Sergio Gutiérrez applies his mathematical education to civil engineering issues. The modeling tools used to tackle these issues come from Mathematical Engineering and are based on solving an optimization problem with constraints written as partial differential equations. These explain the interaction between the small spatial scale, where materials distribution is decided, and the full structure scale, where design efficiency is assessed. For engineering problems, computer methods should be used to solve partial differential equations. Gutiérrez usually uses the Finite Elements method.
Also notable is his project with other professors from Universidad Católica’s department of Structural and Geotechnical Engineering, Hernán Santa María and Rafael Riddell. This project addresses the problem of choosing a good truss model to design reinforced concrete elements for unusual geometries. “Initial numerical results have been validated with laboratory experiments, obtaining excellent performance in terms of efficiency in the use of the reinforcements (greater ratio between resisted load and weight of the used steel) and less cracking.”
“Mathematics is a very entertaining intellectual lucubration, but my greater personal interest lies in applying math to real problems,” he reflects.
These kinds of tools have projections, says professor Gutiérrez. In other countries they are already being used in high-tech industries such as aviation and automotive industries, and they also have applications in biomedical equipment and are starting to be used in civil engineering.
He has had concrete results. He worked in collaboration with professor Grégoire Allaire of the Ecole
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NANOSTRUCTURES TO MANIPULATE MATTER IN LIFE SCIENCES AND ENERGY CONVERSION
AMADOR GUZMÁN ADJUNCT ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Mechanical and Metallurgical Engineering Mechanical Engineer, Universidad de Santiago de Chile Master of Science in Engineering, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, Carnegie Mellon University, United States
Professor Amador Guzmán is one of the few exponents of nanotechnology in Chile. He directs one of two laboratories in the country for micro and nano fluidics. Guzmán focuses in part on life sciences, working with regions and ducts that carry biological fluids such as blood, urine, saliva, which can transport bacteria, viruses, cells, and many other particles. The professor looks for ways to detect these bacteria and/or particles or how to quantify a specific protein in a fluid through nanotechnology. Motivated by the existing arsenic contamination in some regions of Chile due to the large amount of minerals and the increasing extraction of mining resources, the professor has developed a project to detect metal particles, for example arsenic, in biological fluids or a water sample. “Right now there are many (20 or 30) classical chemical detection methods. However, none of them are quick enough. That’s what’s important about micro and nano fluidics, the creation of a small, portable, inexpensive device that tests a sample of saliva, urine, blood or water to quickly and accurately detect arsenic and determine its concentration level.”
The professor also works in energy conversion through solid state technology systems. “We also feel the effects of radiation at night, we are constantly receiving radiation, but the materials and devices available today are unable to capture and store it.” Amador Guzmán explores how to use radiation from the sun and transform it into electrical or thermal energy, through the creation of new structures in semiconductor materials and new devices that use novel phenomena and technologies. One of his objectives is to develop thermoelectric generators, thermoelectric solar generators and hybrid systems that use semiconductor capacity to generate a flow of electrons (electricity), resulting from the temperature variation between different surfaces when they receive thermal radiation from sunlight or any other source. Some potential applications of the above technology include, for example, a building that generates electricity and meets some of its energy needs from the solar radiation it receives; or the heat emanating from an internal combustion engine when used to generate the electricity needed to warm a seat or move a device.
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INNOVATION DRIVING SCIENTIFIC INSTRUMENTATION
DANI GUZMÁN ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Electrical Engineering Electrical Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, Durham University, United Kingdom
Our country is a global powerhouse in astronomy. Natural conditions have set the perfect conditions for the installation of major observatories such as the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Paranal and the soon to be installed European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) and Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT). These huge projects require the best level of engineering and technology, a field in which Dani Guzmán has worked for more than a decade. Professor Guzmán’s original research in astronomical instrumentation spans from adaptive optics, for compensating the effects of atmospheric turbulence in large telescopes, to the design and construction of astronomical instruments. Professor Guzmán’s group is starting the construction of the first such instrument for a professional telescope in Chile. This instrument, ‘BOMBOLO’, is a three channels optical imager for SOAR telescope, for astronomical observations of rapid phenomena. Professor Guzmán works in this project with collaborators from the UC Astrophysics Institute as well as astronomers from external institutions. The most challenging project within Guzmán’s protfolio nowadays is the design and construction of the image acquisition system for the G-Clef instrument, led by Harvard University and selected as one of the first generation instruments for the Giant Magellan
Telescope. With this instrument it will be possible to detect oxygen in the atmospheres of planets orbiting other stars, a clear evidence of life as we understand it. Professor Guzmán’s contribution in lowest noise scientific detectors is key to achieve this goal. Professor Guzmán is using his experience in astronomical instrumentation to develop innovative technologies that can be applied to the broad field of scientific instrumentation. He and colleagues Guarini and Abusleme are leading a project to reduce the electronic noise in scientific image sensors, an innovative stepping stone to design and build a line of scientific cameras with better performance that all existing products in the market of scientific instruments. CORFO and the University are supporting this effort. Professor Guzmán’s research can be found primarily in journals such as Monthly Notices of The Royal Astronomical Society, Optics Express and in the Proceedings of the SPIE International Conferences for Astronomical Instrumentation. Professor Guzmán’s main collaboration area is scientific instrumentation. He is always out looking for new applications in which to run optics and image sensors for building innovative instruments that can expand the frontiers of human knowledge.
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GENERATING TRAFFIC INFORMATION FROM DATA COLLECTED BY MOBILE ELECTRONIC DEVICES
JUAN CARLOS HERRERA ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Transport Engineering and Logistics Civil Industrial Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science in Engineering, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, University of California, Berkeley, United States Doctor of Philosophy, University of California, Berkeley, United States
Motivated by the explosive growth of technology and its incorporation into transport systems, professor Juan Carlos Herrera says that the challenge lies in finding a way to use the vast amount of data available to improve transportation. Fifteen years ago, the process of obtaining information was very different from today. “For example, a GPS device provides the speed and location necessary to infer how the system is operating.” The professor analyzes how to improve the operation of transport systems. He says that technology has no ceiling. A cellphone can be used to do practically everything: communicate data, receive information, dispatch information about traffic conditions, road conditions, etc. This information provides users with an idea of traffic conditions, allowing them to make a smarter, more informed decision before departing or to choose alternative travel routes. “It results in a more informed decision regarding my travel needs,” explains professor Herrera. His doctoral thesis specifically addressed this topic. He conducted an experiment in the United States, where he collected information from cellphones with GPS
tracking, installed in 100 vehicles that then travelled along a highway. His hypothesis was to prove that this technology was a reliable source of information and can be used to monitor traffic. And he succeeded. Back in Chile, he extended this study to urban arterials, where traffic dynamics make this problem more challenging. This study incorporated speed data provided by vehicles into traffic theory models, which provides a strong theoretical foundation and more accurate estimates. He is currently developing a project that uses information provided by electronic devices with Wifi or Bluetooth capabilities to generate traffic information. Based on the data gathered by these devices, he tries to estimate traffic conditions and traveling patterns, among other variables of interest. “The benefit of incorporating technologies into transportation systems is significant because it provides information to both the user and the entity responsible for road network operation or management,” says the professor. “Users can make better travel decisions and transportation entities can operate more efficiently, controlling their systems, which in turn benefits travelers.”
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COMPUTER SYSTEMS THAT ENHANCE THE QUALITY OF HUMAN LIFE
VALERIA HERSKOVIC ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Computer Science Computer Engineer, Universidad de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, Universidad de Chile
With a desire to understand how people interact with technology, professor Valeria Herskovic works with a doctoral student to build computer systems for cancer patient caregivers. She collaborates with a team from the Universidad Católica School of Medicine. Based on concern about the emotional wellbeing of these people, the School of Medicine identified the need to find a way to detect how they feel. For professor Valeria Herskovic, there are different ways to address this problem. She says that there is already a cellphone application that asks people how they feel. However, she wants to do something less invasive. “We are designing a product that consists of a tangible interface that doesn’t require the person to stop their work and fill out a form, rather something that is natural and easy to do,” she explains. “We are trying to understand the life and technological needs of these caregivers in order to design an interface and mobile application.” The idea is that the
application could record the emotions of caregivers and simultaneously transmit this automatically to doctors. The project began with an automated monitoring system for cancer patients. “They were called and asked how they felt, using a standard scale used in medicine.” This was then expanded to their caregivers, who have higher rates of depression than the general public. The first phase involves understanding the lifestyle of those caring for cancer patients, and then design and test an interface that really works for them,” says the professor. Her idea is to use technology to monitor the emotions of caregivers, who are usually family members who provide vital physical, practical and emotional support to people with cancer. The primary objective of this research is to ease the burden of cancer patient caregivers. “We hope that the development of technologies enables us to better support caregivers and doctors, thereby enabling them to give better treatment to those suffering from cancer.”
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SEISMIC DESIGN TO PREVENT BRIDGE DAMAGE
MATÍAS HUBE ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Structural and Geotechnical Engineering Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science in Engineering, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, University of California, Berkeley, United States
Professor Matías Hube spent two years designing tunnels for the Santiago subway. After obtaining his doctorate degree, he specialized in the experimental analysis and design of reinforced concrete elements, nonlinear modeling using finite elements, and, most recently, seismic analysis and design of bridges. The professor is conscious of the significant potential of this area of e ngineering, given the seismic nature of Chile. Frequent earthquakes provide ongoing testing for new structures and technologies, which eventually lead to improved designs. As a researcher, professor Hube is working on how to keep bridge design costs as low as possible while minimizing seismic vulnerabilities. The professor is developing a computer model to simulate a bridge’s behavior in the event of an earthquake. His research involves laboratory tests to characterize different bridge components, for example, elastomeric bearings, seismic bars and side stops. Chile’s comparative advantage is that the computer model can be calibrated with real data from bridges damaged during the 2010 earthquake. Once the
computer model is calibrated, the next step is to conduct a parametric study to analyze bridges with different characteristics. This study will result in recommendations for a more efficient seismic bridge design in Chile. It will also identify strategies to repair structures and predict potential bridge damage in a future earthquake. Matías Hube is also working on simulating the seismic behavior of reinforced concrete buildings during the 2010 earthquake. To simulate the seismic behavior of reinforced concrete walls, he ran laboratory tests on 10 walls at a scale of 1:2. He was able to replicate the damage observed in the earthquake and explain what caused and propagated the damage in the buildings’ reinforced concrete walls. His goal is to use the results of these tests to calibrate numerical models and predict the seismic behavior of an entire building. The professor is also participating in research to create a new solution for walls in the construction of homes.
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MATHEMATICAL AND COMPUTER MODELING OF THE HEART
DANIEL HURTADO ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Structural and Geotechnical Engineering Civil Structural Engineer, Pontifica Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, California Institute of Technology, United States Doctor of Philosophy, California Institute of Technology, United States
Daniel Hurtado’s formal training is in mathematical modeling and numerical methods, as applied to solid and structural mechanics, yet his primary motivation is a desire to understand the behavior of complex materials on different scales of size and time. This interest brought him to the field of biomedical engineering and specifically computer biophysics and biomechanics. He began to apply mathematical modeling and computer simulation to better understand the functioning of the heart and cardiovascular diseases, which are a major cause of death in Chile. With the emergence of supercomputers, it is now possible to study complex systems, modeling their mechanisms on a molecular and cellular level to predict the behavior of organs and systems. Professor Daniel Hurtado wants to contribute to the development of multi-scale heart behavior models that are predictive and robust, for their use in the study and diagnosis of cardiovascular diseases. One of the first steps is to understand phenomena such as the electrical behavior of the healthy heart. Daniel Hurtado and his team made an important contribution in electrophysiological heart modeling. Repolarization, which is the process in which the heart
muscle returns to a restful state after a contraction, is a very heterogeneous property in heart tissue. Although this is a phenomenon studied at length by the medical community, as recently as 2012, no computational model had incorporated the dispersion of repolarization that was consistent with observations in healthy volunteers. Until that time, most of the simulations showed a uniform potential for action, and therefore a uniform repolarization in all heart cells. The professor’s team showed that an appropriate incorporation of repolarization dispersion provided much more predictive results than traditional simulations. “Indeed, T waves with positive polarity are recovered by incorporating dispersion in repolarization on a cellular level, obtaining heart simulations that are consistent with those seen in a healthy electrocardiogram.” While the medical field has begun to rely more and more on computers, there is still a lack of trust in computer modeling for predictions. This is precisely what Daniel Hurtado is trying to change. Computer models that predict heart function and diagnose disease or enable virtual surgeries that improve clinical outcome in patients are no longer in the distant future.
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CITIES AND THE QUALITY OF LIFE
RICARDO HURTUBIA ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Transport Engineering and Logistics Faculty of Architecture, Design and Urban Studies Industrial Engineer, Universidad de Chile Master in Engineering Science, mention in Transport, Universidad de Chile Doctor of Philosophy in Mathematics, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland
Building bridges between urbanism and engineering is the task of academic Ricardo Hurtubia, who has devoted his career to studying and creating models that explain how the location of economic activities and a given population can affect the transport system of a city and vice versa. His overall aim: to foster a better quality of life for those who live in cities. With this aim in mind, the academic initiated a National Scientific and Technological Development Fund (Fondecyt) research project to understand the needs, perceptions and preferences that lead people to prefer some particular public spaces. What characteristics of public spaces make them attractive to users represents the initial question of this area of research. “A public space where the aim is to attract children and families is not the same as one that is geared towards adolescents. This research attempts to develop quantitative methods to measure the importance of various attributes of public spaces and to characterize the variables involved, which may be qualitative or subjective, and which may make such a space successful or not,” he explains. According to Hurtubia, public spaces are often designed taking into account only aesthetic criteria that may
be quite arbitrary, thus ignoring the preferences and needs of the people who use such spaces. Hence the importance of understanding users: “It’s hard to understand how, when and why people may prefer a particular public space over another. What I want is to obtain a method that combines qualitative with quantitative aspects, that allows us to evaluate existing public spaces or develop new infrastructure project as best as possible.” The academic thus attempts to provide solutions using tools derived from the areas of engineering and econometrics, such as discrete choice models, in order to address the problems of urbanism. The ultimate goal is to plan the construction and growth of cities, he outlines. “Trying to build better cities implies contributing to a better quality of life for people,” he says. “More than half of the world’s population lives in cities and it is essential that cities work as well as possible. The cities with the best quality of life have been well thought and planned, and engineering can contribute a lot in this area,” he concludes.
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SPEED, COMFORT AND DIAGNOSTIC QUALITY IN MRI PABLO IRARRÁZAVAL PROFESSOR Department of Electrical Engineering, Institute of Biological and Medical Engineering Industrial Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, Stanford University Doctor of philosophy, Stanford University
One of the greatest concerns of patients who have to undergo an MRI, is the duration of this medical examination. It usually takes between 30 to 60 minutes, during which time the patient must remain stationary so as to ensure that a good image is obtained. The discomfort of the position that is normally adopted and the reduced space that the person must enter, can lead to claustrophobia, affecting the conditions for a successful outcome of this examination. Concerned about this situation, professor Pablo Irarrázaval has dedicated his research to the study of magnetic resonance imaging, with special emphasis placed on seeking alternatives to reduce imaging time inside the scanner, and thus not only improve the user experience, but also, and most importantly, improve the quality of the image taken of areas of the body with physiological movement, such as the heart and abdomen. Irarrázaval, who was a founder of the UC Biomedical Imaging Center (Centro de Imágenes Biomédicas UC) and who heads the Institute for Biological and Medical Engineering of the same institution, is now developing one of its most ambitious missions: to significantly reduce the time it takes to acquire MR images, without losing quality. For example, through the “Rapid Diffusion Spectrum MRI by Undersampling” Fondecyt project, an attempt is being made to reduce the acquisition time of diffusion imaging from ten to five minutes. “Taking into account that it is impossible to obtain instant images, halving the time is an impressive development. The advantages are economic, as you can offset the price of the equipment among more patients, and therefore reducing the cost of each procedure; improve the patient’s comfort by reducing the total time they must remain lying inside the machine; and
the type of image produced in less time allows us to detect things that were previously difficult to obtain due to the involuntary movement of certain organs,” explains the academic. In order to speed up the process, an intervention is made by programming the sequences of magnetic fields applied by the scanner, with the idea of acquiring an incomplete image (sub-sampled). The correct image can then be formed by reconstructing data through mathematical algorithms such as “Compressed Sensing,” which decodes those elements that have not been captured and so completes the image. The researcher informs us that his goal is to find good quality images that can be obtained in the shortest possible time and with an improved quality of diagnosis: specificity and sensitivity. In short, that the element being sought actually appears. Another example of the research being undertaken by Irarrázaval along with other researchers based at the first multi-school Interdisciplinary Institute of the University, is aimed at improving the perceptual quality of medical images. For example, in detecting microcalcifications in mammograms, which are cancer precursors. Normally, even the best radiologists are able to detect their presence only between 60 to 80% of the time, which is concerning given that about 25% of women go home thinking that they have nothing to worry about, while others may be given a misdiagnosis. “We wanted to invent a technique for improving the success rate in the diagnosis, so we modified the typical static images and transformed them into movies by animating the pixels. Consequently, the microcalcifications that at first glance were not visible suddenly appeared in the image. In a pilot test, we improved the correct diagnosis rate from 73% to 83%,” he explains.
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BEHAVIORAL STUDY OF SMOKE AND THE PREVENTION OF ASSOCIATED RISKS
WOLFRAM JAHN ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Mechanical and Metallurgical Engineering Mechanical Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Professor Wolfram Janh’s graduate work in Edinburgh focused on the characteristics of fire in buildings, offices and compartments using temperature readings, smoke characteristics and parameters that influence the spread of fire. In Chile, he adapted this study and the mathematical modeling of fluids and heat transfer to the reality of the country, including the extension and modification of the model to forest fires. “My research is focused on how to model a physical system on a computer. For example, I have used thermo-couplings, which are cables with heat-resistant tips that generate a voltage when exposed to high temperature; when placed on roofs, they allow smoke to be characterized so that experts can infer what fuel source is driving the fire,” explains the academic with respect to the “Fire Grid” project. The reading of data such as temperature, density, and pressure provides an inverse structure, given that the objects consumed by the flames in a given space can be identified based on smoke characteristics. The ultimate aim of such a prediction of a fire’s characteristics is to help firefighters or personnel entering an affected structure take the necessary decisions. “We want firefighters to consult this integrated system, this software, before they act,” he states. Jahn notes that an important part of his research was influenced by the study he participated in while in the UK
regarding the attack on the Twin Towers in New York on 11 September 2001. “It used a model that demonstrated that a collapse mechanism could effectively bring down a tower based on the thermal load produced by an exploding plane,” confirms the professor, adding that: “The towers were designed to resist the impact of a plane, but the fire caused by such an impact was not taken into account, and it was this that caused the towers to collapse. If firefighters had known that information they would not have entered the towers, and many lives would have been saved.” The professor seeks to change the way buildings are constructed, promoting intelligent buildings that contribute to sustainability. “Interventions using thermo-couplings can also be made to older buildings, not just new ones. Installation is minimal and so is the cost,” he explains. “The idea is that fires are interconnected on a computer network, and thus data can be shared and resources distributed, otherwise each building would need an independent calculation server,” states the academic. With regard to its application in forest fires, professor Jahn explains, “It would be ideal to handle these more efficiently. You can apply the same methodology you just need to use other models and data. It is an interesting subject for Chile, and has a high impact.”
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MINE EXPLORATION THAT CONTRIBUTES VALUE-ADDED TO THE INDUSTRY
JOSÉ JOAQUÍN JARA ADJUNCT ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Mining Engineering Civil Industrial Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
“Exploration lays the foundations of the entire mining industry. Without exploration there is no mining,” said professor José Joaquín Jara in reference to one of his main areas of interest, and also the focus of his masters’ thesis. “My thesis analyzed the state of mineral exploration in Chile over the past 15 years and identified its main challenges,” he explains. “Mineral exploration creates value and is fundamentally knowledge-based,” he says.
Professor Jara says that his current focus is on completing his Ph.D. in Economic Geology and Mineral Exploration. His thesis topic is based on the metallogenesis of IOCG (Iron Oxide Copper-Gold) deposits in Northern Chile. “These deposits are not frequently studied on a global level, so there is a lot to do. They also have a high potential to be found in Chile.” He adds that Chile has one of the areas with greatest potential for such deposits.
Before joining the School of Engineering at Universidad Católica, the scholar worked for BHP Billiton in the Department of Studies at Minera Escondida Ltda; the Chilean Copper Commission (Cochilco) where he served in the area of public policy design and mining markets analysis; and at Antofagasta Minerals in mine planning and project development, eventually as Superintendent of Planning and Development for Minera El Tesoro.
“The beauty of exploration and economic geology is that it has a very significant scientific component,” says Jara.
He says that he has always loved teaching and doing research. “In mining, which is mostly applied engineering, it is good to have industry experience, because it connects you to real problems in the area,” says the professor.
His aim is to develop the department’s research line on mineral exploration and evaluation of mining resources.
His goal is to work with the Group of Geosciences from the department of Structural Engineering and Geotechnics. He has also developed a second line of research around Mineral Economics, where he works with professor Gustavo Lagos from the department of Mining Engineering, School of Engineering.
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SIMULATIONS THAT BENEFIT GLOBAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT CARLOS JEREZ ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Electrical Engineering Mathematical and Computational Engineering Civil Industrial Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, École Polytechnique, France Doctor of Philosophy, École Polytechnique, France
His research is transversal to multiple applications, ranging from aircraft radar, neural pulse propagation, new energy harversting devices, to the quantification of shape uncertainty in radiotelescopes. Mathematical modelling, numerical analysis and computational simulations are the three pillars upon which professor Carlos Jerez seeks answers to complex problems. These require the development of suitable algorithms and perform numerical implementations in large computing clusters. Employing integral equation techniques, stochastic calculus and developing new ones tools, the academic of the department of Electrical Engineering and director of the Mathematical & Computational Engineering group, seeks to solve together with several coworkers in in prestigious foreign institutions (ETH Zurich, Notre Dame University, Paris VI, School of Mines of Colorado, TU Berlin y Texas A&M) several open problems of great relevance to the scientific community both in theory and practice. Specialists in anesthesiology need to reduce the time and error rate in nerve identification. With a desire to contribute to the field, professor Carlos Jerez currently works to better understand and optimize the instruments used by doctors. He also collaborates on a research project related to the origin of the universe, in conjunction with the Center for Astro-Engineering UC (CAIUC). For example, Jerez currently uses these tools to address the issue of neural location identified by anesthesiologists. He gives the following scenario: “Imagine that you just had knee replacement surgery. You will experience intense pain for several days, which is controlled by identifying and anesthetizing the neural structure involved. To locate it, a needle injects an electrical current. At a given amount of current, the
neural excitation generated is inversely proportional to the distance between the nerve and the needle, which allows the physician to infer proximity. However, this technique can be very time consuming and on average one in five patients must undergo another analgesic procedure. Thanks to public funds, and in partnership with Universidad Católica’s department of Anesthesiology, and engineering undergraduate and master’s students, professor Jerez seeks to improve the instruments in use today through modeling and simulation. “This means bringing together two aspects of engineering, modeling and optimization, to perform low-cost virtual prototyping with a minimum development time, which is increasingly important in many industries,” says Jerez. The underlying electrophysiological, physical and biological building blocks are used to establish models that can describe the phenomena being studied with a high level of realism. He anticipates that they will begin pre-clinical trials on animals in order to prove the related concepts, and then move on to more sophisticated prototypes for eventual release onto the market. In astronomy, professor Jerez works with a team from CAIUC to improve the resolution of telescopes that analyze the effects of Big Bang microwaves, through the design and reduction of noise from ambient temperature. The project is funded by NASA, Japan and Chile and hopes to improve imaging from these instruments. “The funny thing is that we are using some of the same methods applied in the health field,” he states. “We have the ability to make increasingly more realistic designs and models,” says professor Jerez. “Chile is known for its high level of mathematics, but we should be able to develop applications that contribute to the development of our country.”
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POOR INDOOR AIR QUALITY?
HÉCTOR JORQUERA PROFESSOR Department of Chemical Engineering and Bioprocesses Chemical Engineer, Universidad de Chile Master in Chemical Engineering, Universidad de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, Chemical Engineering, University of Minnesota, United States
Professor Jorquera and his research team have measured indoor fine particle matter (PM2.5) in Santiago, Concepción and Temuco. Measurements in low-income neighborhoods in Santiago showed that dwellers tend to dress warmly rather than heating their homes. This is feasible in Santiago, where the weather is milder than in Southern Chile. There, colder climate and widespread wood burning for space heating and cooking have led to ambient PM2.5 levels much higher than those recorded at Santiago. How bad is indoor air pollution? What is the relationship between outdoor and indoor pollution? What measures would be most effective to reduce human exposure to contamination? This is professor Jorquera’s field of research. People spend between 70 and 90% of their time in indoor environments. According to the measurements taken during spring and summer in Santiago, about 50% of indoor pollution comes from domestic sources. We have found that roughly 70% of outdoor PM2.5 penetrates into the households in Chile. Factoring in indoor PM2.5 sources, indoor levels become similar to the outdoor ones. For instance, in Temuco average indoor PM2.5 is only 20% below the outdoor values.
Furthermore, cooking also generates indoor pollution. This effect is enhanced in low-income homes, which are smaller, with a single room for living, sleeping and cooking, and poor ventilation. Particulate matter from cooking mostly affects those who stay longer in the dwelling: housewives, maids, infants and the elderly. Professor Jorquera and his team hope that the data they have gathered will justify a public policy change in the quality of housing. Subsidies for home improvements should consider proper kitchen ventilation and tighter household envelopes. Professor Jorquera envisages opportunities for better designs of cooking fans and hoods, which currently do not work properly or are not included. Such measures are quick to implement. On the long term, the solutions are household energy efficiency improvements and including mechanical ventilation and air filtering. Professor Jorquera is Associate Researcher at the Center for Sustainable Urban Development (www. cedeus.cl), a Government funded FONDAP center; in collaboration with faculty from Architectural School, he envisages opportunities to generate better public policies on housing.
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THE NEW CHALLENGE OF STRUCTURAL ENGINEERING
ROSITA JÜNEMANN ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Structural and Geotechnical Engineering Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master in Engineering, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
The research being undertaken by professor Rosita Jünemann is focused on reinforced concrete shear wall buildings damaged during the earthquake in Chile that hit the country on 27 February 2010. “Chilean reinforced concrete wall buildings have historically shown an excellent seismic performance, however, their behavior following the 27 February quake was somewhat unexpected,” explains the academic, who points out that isolated and brittle damage to certain buildings in the country caused by the earthquake led to new concerns among researchers in the field of structural engineering. “We want to understand what happened to these buildings from a general perspective, but also from a local point of view, i.e. at the element level,” indicates Jünemann, who has taken a sample of around 40 buildings, from which characteristics and common factors have been identified that can be associated with the observed damage. Furthermore, analytical modeling has been used to simulate the behavior of the buildings damaged by the aforementioned quake in order to improve the performance of these and other structures in the future. Preliminary results from the research showed that in terms of damaged buildings, an important role was
played by the low thickness of their walls, vertical irregularities, and an increase in their axial loads. Furthermore, analytical models have been able to reproduce the observed behavior under certain conditions. According to Jünemann, this information will allow for the introduction of energy dissipation devices so as to improve the performance of reinforced concrete buildings. “We are a seismic country and the challenge faced by structural engineering is to deal with this reality but using sufficient foresight. Until now, Chilean buildings have had adequate seismic performance. However, I think we all know that people are not satisfied with the behavior of our buildings. Why? Because their property was damaged, and they lost their homes and possessions, among other reasons.” “The challenge now is to think about how to intervene in the structures that have already been built in order to avoid them being damaged in the future, and not only in terms of the those buildings that were damaged, but also those that resisted well, so as to protect people as much as possible from the harm caused by an earthquake,” she concludes.
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THE ROLE OF MINING IN CHILE’S DEVELOPMENT
GUSTAVO LAGOS PROFESSOR Department of Mining Engineering Mining Engineer, Universidad de Chile Master of Science, Universidad de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, University of Leeds, United Kingdom
“Mining has been the most important vehicle for development in Chile,” says professor Gustavo Lagos, a specialist in ore economics and the environment. He studies the ore commodities markets, its supply and demand, pricing and all economic aspects related to the strategic direction of the mining business. Throughout his career, he has conducted research in materials science, particularly in lithium ionic conductor materials. In recent years he has also studied copper pipe corrosion and human exposure to copper in drinking water. Through his research he has been able to modify international standards. He has also held several positions related to the mining industry. He was executive director of the Center for Mining and Copper Studies (Centro de Estudios del Cobre y la Minería) and the Research Center for Mining and Metallurgy (Centro de Investigación Minero MetalúrgicoCIMM). “I’ve always had a political calling. I am interested in the development of my country,” he says. From 2001 until 2009 he served as director of the Center of Mining at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, also known as the department of Mining Engineering. He says that this institution “has become a public reference in all aspects relating to the copper industry.” This leadership is reflected in their continued presence in national and international media.
Professor Lagos has worked with a team of engineers, economists and sociologists to develop a database on the history of mining since the year 1800. “This is a very important methodological tool because almost everything that happens today has already happened in the past.” He also uses econometric models and theoretical tools from economics and social sciences to further this field. For eight years he and his team have been conducting an annual survey called “The Mine Barometer.” It is representative of the national population and reveals the perception that Chileans have on all aspects of mining, identifying the most and least valued areas of this industry. “This tool provides us with a Chilean diagnosis on mining”, he says, which is the most respected industry in Chile. Professor Lagos has published over 150 scientific and technical articles, 15 books and over thirty book chapters. Over the past two decades he has been a consultant to the industry and to the Chilean and foreign governments on economic, strategic and environmental issues related to mining. “The impact of the mining industry has been enormous. It is what has driven Chile towards becoming a developed nation over the past 10 years.”
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DESIGN OF EXPRESS SERVICES IN URBAN PUBLIC TRANSPORT
HOMERO LARRAÍN ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Transport Engineering and Logistics Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
The quality of public transport is vital to the development of a city and a country; however there are several challenges associated with improving operations. Professor Homero Larraín addresses these in his doctoral thesis, which proposes a way to design express bus services for an urban public transport network, with the objective of reducing people’s travel time. “Express services can be defined as services that cater to a subset of the stops along a specific travel route. The development of these is an operational strategy that can be beneficial to both operators and users,” says professor Larraín. His research began by posing the following issue: How do you design express services for a city? This question involved mapping out bus routes and determining which stops the buses should service. He originally focused on the case of an isolated route and subsequently built a heuristic model that designs express services for a network, breaking it down into individual routes. The professor worked with a mathematical programming model to apply different algorithms to build routes for services. This resulted in a design methodology that generates a set of services and provides their
operating frequencies, taking into account maximum capacity restrictions on buses, as well as the existence of common lines and the possibility of transfers, which help passengers reduce their expected travel times. He points out that one of the main benefits of express services is a reduction of travel times. “This is paramount in determining whether or not they work.” While determining the ideal frequencies to minimize system costs, he also discovered that operator expenses are equal to the ideal waiting costs of passengers. “This came as a surprise to me that this mathematical property would appear,” confesses Larraín. The results of this research show that a reduction in the number of stops benefits passengers by reducing their travel times, but also benefits operators who are able to increase their fleet efficiency by reducing their cycle times. “We want to build a computer tool that uses input data to build a public transport network with express services,” says professor Larraín. He hopes to apply this methodology in Chile and other global public transport systems.
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ALL-WAYS ENTREPRENEURIAL MICHAEL LEATHERBEE ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering Industrial and Systems Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor of Philosophy in Innovation, Strategy and Organizations, Stanford University
Even before he had graduated from engineering school, he had launched his first start-up, YX Wireless S.A., a company dedicated to designing and developing electronic devices for wireless communications. The company received important awards and positioned itself as a market leader in Latin America. The recognition that the company won included the Avonni Prize, the Trend Management Magazine Award, the Shell Oil Company’s Savia Nueva Award, the El Mercurio newspaper’s 100 Young Leaders Prize, and the recognition of the Chilean Economic Development Agency (CORFO) 70 Successful Cases. “I led the company for ten years, and experienced a period in which the country was beginning to actively foster innovation and entrepreneurship. Since then, I have been able to observe, design and evaluate numerous programs geared to the promotion of innovation and entrepreneurship.” From the beginning, his career was marked by entrepreneurship. For example, he founded the OPTE (Opportunities to Transform by Educating) Educational Foundation and the Aukan-Dictuc Innovation Management Consultancy. In academia, he has designed and/or implemented undergraduate and graduate programs at the Universidad Católica, such as the Master’s Program in Innovation and the Academic Certificate in Innovation. He is currently a board member of Start-Up Chile Advisory Board and councilor of the Chile-California Council. “Innovation and entrepreneurship are the ability to identify problems faced by society, and discover or develop solutions to solve them. A society that has this capacity is a society that will develop faster than those that do not have these skills.” Professor Leatherbee specializes in studying how people and organizations discover and create new socio-economic value. “Value is created when a feasible relationship between a major problem and an efficient solution is discovered and developed. It is therefore vital to understand how and where such opportunities
emerge in time and space in order to create new value. I am combining the study of this phenomenon with the design of public policies to influence productive behaviors. The aim is to generate new knowledge that will help people to more easily discover these opportunities to create value. As a consequence, I hope the country will be able to accelerate its socioeconomic development.” As a result of his successful career as entrepreneur, professor Leatherbee was invited by the then dean of the UC School of Engineering, Hernán de Solminihac, to apply to the Engineering School’s faculty position in innovation and entrepreneurship. Shortly after being hired as an academic by the School, professor Leatherbee traveled to California to take part in one of the best doctoral research programs in entrepreneurship, strategy, technology and organizations run by Stanford University. Since his return to Chile in August 2015, professor Leatherbee has focused on pursuing his research agenda and developing the capabilities to develop evidencebased scientific discoveries. To do this, in January 2016 he founded the Evidence-Based Entrepreneurship Policy Research Lab. “It is an ambitious project that has a dual mission: pushing the frontier of scientific knowledge and quickly transforming that knowledge into information that is useful for those who are designing and developing entrepreneurship programs. That’s why I am training a team of people to help me advance my portfolio of research projects, and which I have been constructing since my doctoral studies.” The laboratory studies policies such as Start-Up Chile and the CORFO Seed Capital initiative. “Our role includes helping standardize data collection methodologies and assessing the impact of such programs on participants and the national economy. Moreover, we are discovering phenomena that has not been previously studied and developing entrepreneurship theories that must be tested in the future.”
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UNCERTAINTY REVEALS ITS FACE
Most people do not feel comfortable acknowledging risk. Professor Ledezma believes that the perception of society on engineering should include this awareness.
This is exacerbated in soil mechanics, where the risk is not as easily quantifiable as in other areas, such as structural engineering.
Disaster Management (Centro Nacional de Investigación para la Gestión Integrada de Desastres Naturales) to study rainfall-induced landslides, especially in the Quebrada San Ramón, a mountain gully on the eastern side of Santiago. These are much more recurrent phenomena and tend to appear every two years.
Facilities, i.e. structures, are supported by soils, which may have a certain probability of experimenting adverse effects as the result of, for instance, an earthquake. The soil is a given foundation and is not always fully understood or controllable.
“My interest is to help minimize the impacts; it is not just an issue of human lives, which are certainly very important, nor just an economic cost, but also the country’s operating costs, insofar as hospitals, bridges and communication lines are concerned,” he explains.
Ledezma researches the relationship between soil undermining and deformations in the structures of bridges or docks. During an earthquake, “large amounts of structure and backfill that are supported on liquefied soils may begin to shift, applying very high loads and eventually affecting a bridge.” The piling and the structure will try to resist, “but it is a phenomenon that we still know little about, it is difficult to quantify.”
He combines design with uncertainty. The design of bridges, for instance, should consider performance requirements. A bridge that needs to be operational the day after an earthquake requires higher standards than one that can wait for a month.
Department of Structural and Geotechnical Engineering Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science in Engineering, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, University of California, Berkeley, United States Doctor of Philosophy, University of California, Berkeley, United States
Ultimately, he wants to identify quantifiable recommendations and provide better design tools. Professor Ledezma also works with a group of Geotechnical and Hydraulic Engineering teachers from the National Research Center for Integrated Natural
“Given the characterization of an earthquake, with all of its uncertainty, and given the model, which also has uncertainties, as well as a particular level of prediction of damages and costs, the ideal scenario would integrate all relevant aspects in a given location and provide a certain degree of foresight.” There is no such thing as a risk-free construction.
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BIOGEOCHEMISTRY FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY
EDUARDO LEIVA ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering, Department of Inorganic Chemistry, Faculty of Chemistry, School of Engineering Biochemist, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master in Engineering Sciences, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor in Engineering Sciences, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Throughout his career, especially while pursuing his doctoral studies and exploring the interaction of biogeochemical processes for the treatment of acid effluents from mining sites, professor Eduardo Leiva has understood the need to create interdisciplinary teams in order to address complex environmental problems. “These problems have different aspects that often cannot be addressed from just one discipline. In order to identify solutions it is necessary to be able to discuss and interact with professionals from different areas.” Professor Leiva has broadened the understanding of the processes that generate acid water and release arsenic, contaminants that are extremely harmful to the environment and which, in certain areas of northern Chile, require environmental remediation strategies and therefore an interdisciplinary approach. He has been a member of the UC Center for Sustainable Urban Development (CEDEUS) since 2013. During this period, he has begun to develop a solid line of research linked to the sustainability of the design, use and operation of green roofs in urban environments. “We have been working within a fairly robust multidisciplinary team made up of professors from the areas of Construction Engineering, Hydraulic
Engineering and Architecture.” Specifically, professor Leiva has been focused on researching the quality of water in such systems, taking into consideration the geochemical aspects that he explored during his graduate studies in order to make green roofs a truly sustainable system. In this sense, his research seeks to integrate environmental chemistry as a relevant factor in the design of such structures in urban environments. The green roofs now used in Chile were adopted in Chile from northern hemisphere countries that have very wet climates, which makes their maintenance more feasible in terms of economic and environmental costs. “We are now developing a system to evaluate the use of green roofs to mitigate air pollution. The idea is to try to use these systems to retain or absorb air pollutants in order to improve air quality.” This area of study has become one of the strongest lines of research of the professor’s work. In the future, the professor wishes to continue broadening the lines of research that he has developed throughout his career, and thus strengthen his participation in both the School of Engineering and the Faculty of Chemistry, acting as a bridge between the two units.
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MEASUREMENT RULES AND MODELS
IGNACIO LIRA PROFESSOR Department of Mechanical and Metallurgical Engineering Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States Master of Science, University of Michigan, United States Doctor of Philosophy, University of Michigan, United States
At the beginning of his book, “Evaluating the measurement of uncertainty,” professor Ignacio Lira attributes the failure of the 1999 NASA Mars Climate Orbiter mission to confusion over measurement units. Measurement is the building block of knowledge. From the start of his career, professor Lira has been concerned about measurement accuracy, errors and their tolerance levels. “The result of any measurement is generally an estimated point of the measured quantity,” he writes. “When I taught classes, I had this concern, but I didn’t know anything. Then I came across the Guide to the expression of uncertainty in measurement, published in 1993 by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which motivated me to get involved in this field,” he says. His work, compiled in his book, has a global impact. The two supplements to the ISO Guide, published in 2008 and 2011, cite text from professor Lira’s book, published in 2002. The ISO Guide clarified his doubts. He studied it, detected flaws in the document and spoke to some of the collaborators. He continued to develop his work, building models to determine uncertainty, and was then published in Metrology, the most prestigious journal in the field. Today, the same level of precision is required as much in the cylinder industry for automobile engines as
in watch manufacturing, states his book. And then there’s nanotechnology, which is increasingly the focus of new developments. He is aware that most engineers accept measurements from duly calibrated instruments. However, for Lira it is the essence of the academic spirit to question. “I realized that there are inconsistencies in the Guide, inconsistencies also shared by other researchers involved in the field.” He provides the example of a circular surface measurement. The formula is the diameter squared, multiplied by pi and divided by 4: a mathematical model. The uncertainty lies in the measurement of the diameter, which depends on many factors. And that uncertainty, quantified, extends throughout the mathematical model to the uncertainty of the surface. This is where statistics intervene. The result, after a series of individual measurements with uncertainty, comes from how this uncertainty is transferred onto indirect measurements. These are mathematical models that build an end value, with a given uncertainty. He distinguishes between different metrologies: scientific, industrial, legal. But his is a scientific metrology: the assessment of uncertainty in measuring.
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BEYOND STRUCTURAL DAMAGE
DIEGO LÓPEZGARCÍA ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Structural and Geotechnical Engineering Civil Engineer, Universidad Nacional de San Juan, Argentina Master of Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York, United States Doctor of Philosophy, University at Buffalo, State University of New York, United States
Professor Diego López-García is not Chilean, but 9 years after his arrival in Chile, not only has he learned to live in a region of f requent earthquakes, he has also made it his research subject, which focuses on reducing the seismic vulnerability of structures, particularly of multistorey buildings. “There is almost global consensus that the next step to reduce earthquake-related economic losses is to incorporate nonstructural components into the process of integral seismic building design,” he says. LópezGarcía dedicates part of his time to this subject. Recent seismic movements, including the 2010 earthquake in Chile, reveal that although a structure may not suffer significant structural damage, there is still significant damage to nonstructural components. Nonstructural components are those elements of a building that do not transfer loads but provide functionality to the structure, such as partitions, air conditioning and lighting systems, mechanical and electrical equipment, among others. The professor is motivated by the study of the seismic performance of nonstructural components, which is based on the differences between the seismic accelerations at the base of a tall building and the seismic accelerations on different floors. “A building as a whole is subject to the seismic acceleration at the base. However, in a 30-storey building, a non-structural component located on the 20th floor is not subject to
the acceleration at the base of the building, but rather to the acceleration on the 20th floor, which of course is usually very different.” Part of the professor’s research was incorporated into the new chilean standard for seismic design of nonstructural components, something he’s excited about, as well as his work for his double Ph.D. (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile - University of Notre Dame, USA) on the behavior of buildings equipped with seismic response reduction systems. The research involves developing a new kind of built-in liquid shock absorber. The innovation is the incorporation of a floating roof, which imposes a kinematic constraint, giving the device only one degree of freedom, which can be modeled relatively accurately. In addition, the floating roof incorporates passive, semi-active or active energy dissipating devices. The new shock absorber is much more efficient than a traditional liquid shock-absorber without the floating roof, which provides only very modest reductions in the seismic response. The intersection of these two lines of research, he says, is a reduction in the seismic vulnerability of tall buildings. Seismic vulnerability is understood as any economic loss due to the effects of earthquakes. “A building’s loss of function can be equally or more expensive than structural damages.”
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RISING FROM THE ASHES
MAURICIO LÓPEZ ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Construction Engineering and Management Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science in Engineering, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, Georgia Institute of Technology, United States Doctor of Philosophy, Georgia Institute of Technology, United States
Mauricio López speaks about the surprises that arise from research. “The things that you can only imagine actually start to occur. There is so much joy in watching students get involved, because they are three times as surprised. It’s a joy to witness the astonishment they experience,” he says. Many think that experimentation consists of deciding, measuring and drawing conclusions, but ultimately three-quarters of experimentation is actually deciding as you go. “In the experimental path, you discover things along the way that make you question your initial hypotheses and adapt your experiments.” His focus is on concrete. “It’s a fascinating material. It starts out as a liquid that cannot sustain itself and a few hours later it transforms into a solid that can resist up to 20 storeys,” he says. His research always includes a space to go one step further, to the whys. He is not satisfied with the purely experimental that provides new information for concrete management, without delving into the causes. Mauricio Lópe z speak s of “a fundament al comprehension of what is happening.” He is quick to clarify that he is “a far reach” from the basic scientists, who pursue what is applicable. He always strays off the beaten path, moving away from the industry to seek more global answers.
His focus for the last few years has been on more sustainable materials. On the one hand he has tried to explain phenomena such as concrete deterioration to achieve longer duration and on the other hand, he creates materials. He has mauve-colored samples on his desk. They are part of his favorite project: “flying ash.” He has been collecting and characterizing ash from different thermal power plants, and has managed to use it to replace up to 80% of the cement used in concrete. It still needs perfecting, because a sustainable product is not enough: it needs to be equal to the material it is replacing. His research involves analyzing the aggregates required in the mixture. He also uses ash to manufacture stones in the ideal size and shape; some contain layers with different properties. This opens up a whole new world in construction. Professor López reduces the use of cement, reuses a waste product, prevents the extraction of rocks from rivers or quarries, and avoids the energy expense of grinding them. He works towards offering these products at a competitive level. Because there is no point of a building being “greener” if the quality of materials used reduces the expected number of floors or life expectancy of the structure.
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WHEN TEMPERATURE RISES
ALEJANDRO MAC CAWLEY ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering Faculty of Agronomy and Forestry Agronomist, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, Georgia Institute of Technology, United States
As an agronomist, Alejandro Mac Cawley is quick to show his fascination with wine, specifically how logistics impact product quality or how to improve the sequencing of bottling lines. He focuses his efforts on studying these processes and proposing novel solutions for the wine industry. He presides over a group of researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology, the Wine Supply Chain Council, who used thermographs placed in each bottle to measure wine temperature along their travel route from Chile, Australia, South Africa and Argentina to the United States. The research determined that the wines were not transported at appropriate temperatures. The presence of containers exposed to temperatures between 30° and 40° Celsius “was something that everyone assumed, but there was no corroborating empirical information.” This is not such a positive result for the wine industry, but it set the stage for collaboration between the professor, his research team and wine suppliers. The next step was to develop the “Wine Simulator”, a device capable of replicating wine temperatures during distribution and transportation. “How do these logistics impact the product characteristics? Is the person responsible for buying the wine - the importer, the distributor, the sommelier – able to detect the differences in quality that occur with wine handling?”
To respond to these questions, Mac Cawley uses what he calls “real time simulation, resulting in decisions on investment and how to structure the wine distribution chains. It is a multidisciplinary field involving designers, physicists, chemists.” Mac Cawley developed the design himself because “we couldn’t find anything like it in the market.” Another key area for wineries is the sequencing of bottling lines. Alejandro’s research identifies mathematical engineering as the solution to this problem, which is basically how to sequence or place the wine to meet demand and maximize the use of bottling lines. This is an interesting issue because bottling a Late Harvest after a Chardonnay or Carmenere requires cleanup and setup times on the bottling lines, which directly affects efficiency. Is there a better way to organize the wines to reduce the switchover times between wine types? What are the cleaning restrictions for bottling lines? Mac Cawley customizes his model to the needs and characteristics of each company and has improved schedules that result in economic savings of 10% to 20%. The professor anticipates the inclusion of temperature gauges, cork displacement sensors, and the implementation of new logistics and research tools in the field of b iological systems and food chains.
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EXPERTISE IN “INTRACTABLE PROBLEMS”
NICOLÁS MAJLUF PROFESSOR EMERITUS Department Industrial and Systems Engineering Industrial Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, Stanford University, United States Doctor of Philosophy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States
“To solve problems you first have to understand them” is the premise of professor Nicolás Majluf. “When you finally manage to understand the problem, you are 80% there to finding a solution,” he says. Based on the range of issues that he has had to explore during his career, it is clear that he is someone who sees the forest through the trees. His work reflects the most formal, operational research and mathematical models, to the more subtle behavioral sciences. After earning his master’s degree in operational research from Stanford, he returned to Chile to pursue management issues from a quantitative perspective, using mathematical models to address problems. His subsequent doctorate degree in management from MIT, where he explored finance and strategy issues, provided him with a perspective in economics, behavioral sciences and even computing. “Management is not an issue, it is a variety of issues,” he maintains. A champion of soft management, he also pursues a “management approach that focuses on the person and his or her relationships.” It is what he calls “subtle management.” He applies this in a private sphere and teaches it in the classroom. His experience as a director and consultant for major companies nationwide and his academic career, enhance his profile, diverse by definition. Another area of research is corporate governance, including the relations between the board of directors, management
and other stakeholders. He admits he has had to learn by doing, outside of a classroom setting. “I sometimes feel that this company governance experience is equivalent to laboratory experience in another area of engineering. It is very relevant; although I was lucky enough to study theoretical finance with some Nobel laureate professors, such as professor Robert Merton and professor Franco Modigliani, when you step into a company, you have to understand the institutional system where financial theory is applied. You have to know the laws and how banks, financial firms, pension funds and mutual funds operate.” “I am looking for a comprehensive view of a company and I think that is the biggest contribution I can make.” Finance, strategy and soft management have all given him a certain ability to look at issues, understand them and structure them in a particular way. “Rather than limit myself to purely mathematically modeling, I attempt to structure problems in much broader terms, including technical, economic and environmental dimensions, for example, in addition to human, political, cultural and social considerations.” This is what he tells the students in his Organization and Behavior course. Engineering is not limited to problem solving. The most relevant issue is problem finding, identifying what we are talking about. “This is where the engineer’s contribution is decisive and true progress is made.”
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THE CHALLENGE OF BEING WELL PLACED
VLADIMIR MARIANOV PROFESSOR Department of Electrical Engineering Electrical Engineer, Universidad de Chile Master of Science in Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, United States Doctor of Philosophy, Johns Hopkins University, United States
Where to locate prisons, landfills and power plants in order to reduce the negative external effects on the population? This is one of the issues Vladimir Marianov pursues. He is an expert in optimal location of resources and facilities. His work for several government agencies in Chile and abroad has earned him a national and international reputation. His goal is to support the authorities in finding efficient and equitable solutions regarding locations for all involved, which not only saves resources, but also provides better services to the population as a whole. One of his first projects in the public sector was planning the construction of new prisons in Chile. He joined a team of professors from different fields of Universidad CatĂłlicaâ€™s School of Engineering. His first step was to project the prison population, which he said was a significant challenge because of the changes brought about by the Criminal Justice Reform program. The study provided recommendations on the location of new prisons, proposed an agenda for their construction and suggested infrastructure changes to existing prisons to properly absorb the increased demand.
He also developed projects for the Department of Education to assess the location of rural schools. Through optimization models, he gave recommendations on which schools to close, which to relocate and where to open new ones. The professor also played a key role in assessments following the 2010 earthquake in Chile, which involved the development of a mathematical tool to advise the government on where to assign resources for rebuilding schools. He has specialized in optimal location of infrastructure that may be affected by congestion, for example, the queues in a hospital or healthcare center. Professor Marianov currently addresses several different lines of research, including the location of the treatment of municipal waste, finding optimal locations for landfills and transfer stations, in such a way as to minimize costs and the undesirable effects of these facilities. He has also done research on the transportation of hazardous materials, aimed at protecting vulnerable population from the consequences of accidents while this activity is performed. Finally, on a different line of work, he is interested in the effects of competition on the location of commercial stores.
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SUPERFICIAL PROCESSES AND MINING EXPLORATION CARLOS MARQUARDT ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Mining Engineering Department of Structural and Geotechnical Engineering Geologist, Universidad de Chile Master in Structural Geological Sciences, Université de Montpellier, Montpellier, France Doctor of Philosophy in Structural Geology and Superficial Processes, Université P. Sabatier, Toulouse, France
Gold mines have been worked in Chile since pre-Hispanic times. Native peoples, followed by Spanish settlers, and then over the centuries local inhabitants have all exploited this type of mineral deposit. Today, professor Marquardt and a group of researchers from the UC department of Mining Engineering are studying the opportunities to exploit the “placer gold deposits” found in sedimentary deposits of fluvial and alluvial origin with anomalous concentrations of gold in a more mechanized fashion using the geological information available for these fields. Professor Marquardt became interested in the study of placer gold deposits in the 1990s when they were no longer being systematically studied in Chile. When he received an invitation from the UC department of Mining to take part in the Corfo Innova project “Identification and exploitation of alluvial mineral deposits of gold in Chile” with the Undersecretary of Mining and the National Mining Company (Enami), he immediately accepted. “From a scientific perspective, there is a lack of knowledge about the origin of the particles or grains of gold or how these have been eroded, transported and then distributed, particularly in fluvial-alluvial deposits. Therefore it is of significant importance for science to determine how these deposits are accumulated and to understand the source of these minerals.” He has dedicated the past eight years to the study of metallic mineral mining. In the beginning, he says, “I focused on large mines of the porphyry copper type (e.g. the Chuquicamata and Escondido mines), but as time went by I was eventually able to work on other types of deposits, such as exotic copper mines, the strata-bound type and iron oxide copper and gold ore deposits, among others.” The professor was chief geologist of exploration at Minería Talcuna Ltda, and senior exploration geologist for Chile at Antofagasta Minerals S.A. Prior to working in the large and medium-sized copper mining sector, he served in the National Geology and Mining Service (Sernageomin), preparing geological maps and published
several such maps of Northern Chile. “During that period, I was able to cultivate the purest part of geosciences: an understanding of the territory’s geology. That’s when I became very interested in superficial processes and mineral exploration, given that another aspect of geosciences that fascinates me is how the surface of the earth’s crust distorts and changes. “ Much of the work undertaken by professor Marquardt, in which he links engineering with geology, involves gathering information in the field and then interpreting it. “My laboratory is nature, bringing together the biggest and best amount of data and then being able to process it all in my office, or collecting samples and then working in other types of laboratories.” However, it is even more important to him that he communicate to his students that in order to explore and exploit mineral deposits, you need strong, solid and well-connected multidisciplinary teams. “Finding mineral deposits, exploiting them, and trying to have the least possible impact on the environment is very difficult. It is a huge task because it involves moving mountains and rocks and understanding what’s inside of them and how to reach it.” Chile is not only famous for its early exploitation of copper or “placer gold” deposits, but also for natural hazards that endanger the security of its population, including landslides, flooding rivers, volcanic activity, and earthquakes. “Studies of large subduction earthquakes, such as the Illapel earthquake that occurred in 2015 help us to understand the mechanisms of deformation of the continents associated with the subduction of tectonic plates”. These contribute to mountain building and the activation of geological faults, among other things. This has been the professor’s second line of research over the past 20 years, in order to “determine and quantify the processes by which the earth rises up and detect the fault lines that have a potential to activate on a human scale.”
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OPTIMIZING PROCESSES IN THE TIMBER INDUSTRY
SERGIO MATURANA PROFESSOR Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering Industrial Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, University of California, Los Angeles, United States Doctor of Philosophy, University of California, Los Angeles, United States
The application of quantitative methods to problems that require decision making, specifically in the timber industry, is one of the areas of research pursued by Sergio Maturana. One of the major studies directed by Maturana emerges from the issue of wood product homogenization. “To convert a log of wood into a plank, it has to be cut into rectangles. Often the standard sizes do not match the cylinder,” he explains. “How do I balance out the logs that arrive from the forest, which have different diameters and grades? It is not an easy task. Even with a great deal of planning, there is a considerable amount of uncertainty involved as there is no way to predict the quality and size of the material you’ll be receiving.” “The solution is to try to take this uncertainty into account in the plan and somehow obtain the right type of products, while maintaining backorders to a minimum to keep costs down,” he explains. The solution developed by Maturana was a computer model to help the people in charge of planning in sawmills to meet their objectives, in consideration of the raw material. “We use a technique called robust optimization, which tries to find the optimal solution while taking the uncertainties into account,” he explains.
He conducted this research in conjunction with CMPC and the next step is to implement it in a plant of the company. “Our objective is to turn as much of the piece of wood as possible into a useable product for CMPC, which can lead to a reduction in the amount of pieces of wood they use or logs they cut,” he explains. The solution achieved an additional 5% utilization of timber volume. “The potential for long-term savings is significant,” asserts the scholar. Maturana has also worked in conjunction with Georgia Tech and other countries for the past seven years in the wine supply chain. “International collaboration is required for each country to follow up on the supply chain, which is global and involves export to different countries. Specifically, the United States can follow the chain from the moment it arrives in distribution centers until it reaches the various consumers,” explains Maturana. “We have discovered the travel time, the routes, and the temperatures undergone by the wines, which has led to the question of what is the real effect this has on the quality of the wine,” he concludes.
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THE IDENTITY BEHIND THE FACE
DOMINGO MERY PROFESSOR Department of Computer Science Electronics Engineer, National Engineering University, Peru Master of Science, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany Doctor of Philosophy, Technischen Universität Berlin, Germany
Image analysis is professor Mery’s specialty. In his classes he sometimes registers attendance asking students to be photographed with an iPad and then a system clicks off “present” on a spreadsheet, one face at a time. His two lines of research are automatic object inspection using X-rays and biometrics, the kind used in his automatic face recognition application, which have enormous implications. In the field of automatic X-ray inspection, for example, with luggage in airports, professor Mery and his team have become an international point of reference. “There are very few people doing this kind of work,” he says. He has taken a leap forward in the process. He has no desire to replace human inspectors, but he does think that a robot is capable of identifying detrimental objects. He has already successfully tested this, developing algorithms to recognize salmon bones that may have remained in the fillet after processing. He has also worked on the revision of welds in gas and oil pipelines. His goal is to produce image analysis software that signals a red flag. As for luggage inspection, he has observed inspectors and their bored expression. The work is tedious and error-inducing, and they need help. The professor is currently working on a system to identify knives with a robotic manipulator that takes multiple images, which
are then fed into an algorithm to locate the object viewed from different positions. He also searches for triggers in order to find firearms. “I’ve worked on this for about 15 years and we have made a lot of progress,” he says. Thanks to all these years’ efforts, today professor Mery published the first book on computer vision for X-ray testing. In biometrics, professor Mery is not concerned with recognizing faces in passport type photos, perfect frontal images, which already have solutions that are 100% effective. He wants to identify faces “in the wild”, in spontaneous, poorly defined pictures, with different expressions. This is highly complex, especially if the origin of an image had been taken from blurry video stock. Clearly both lines of work aim at improving safety levels in public life. But there are many people waiting in line to see the effectiveness of this technology, from people wanting to monitor personnel/student attendance, control access or search large image databases. “The impact is very high, secure systems that help our society, it’s quite exciting,” he says. The close collaboration with the University of Notre Dame, in addition to working with two renowned researchers in the field, has allowed him to have access to a huge database of images, which he hopes will help improve his logarithms to answer the questions, “What is it?” and “who is it?”
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INNOVATION WITH SIGNIFICANCE
CONSTANZA MIRANDA ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Mechanical and Metallurgical Engineering Designer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor of Philosophy in DesignAnthropology, multidisciplinary innovation, North Carolina State University, United States
Like all research, that of Constanza Miranda is to conceptualize, make distinctions, to generate a theoretical framework for practical application, all with one crucial variable: people. In the case of Miranda, this framework is used in areas such as biomedical design, educational innovation, and interfaces and services. In her line of work, the concept “Design Anthropology” has just recently been coined, which is not quite the same as “anthropological design” or as the “anthropology of design”, roughly translated into Spanish as “diseño antropología”, which is being used interchangeably with the original term. “It is very difficult to speak of a whole, because I am involved in too many areas,” she says. “When you are innovating, you lack the lexicon to refer to things, lack the clarity to articulate, I can articulate it in bits and pieces, but I have a hard time summing up the whole.” Her doctoral thesis at Stanford, Multidisciplinary Teams of Engineering for Innovation, aimed to design “boundary objects”, bridges, shared meanings that foster teamwork and project innovation on a multidisciplinary stage. Visual references, such as maps, diagrams, presentations, synthesize information. Her thesis presents eight “boundary objects”, tools that can build coursework or be taught in a company to generate an organic structure where learning thrives and builds on its participants. Miranda has developed visual methods to collect qualitative data. She has described the components to teams of engineers who are designing. Not satisfied, she has only just begun: “the only place where we could do this was in a university with young people who have
such a developed intellectual capacity. In the end, I work a lot on specific applied research because I undertake my experiments in “living labs” for Design Anthropology. Design is a way to make and apply things. “We’re not talking here about industrial graphics, but rather of systems, processes, services, logistics... everything, the big picture, but with a human component,” she says. Design Anthropology (DAnthro) can be applied to a multitude of questions. The process starts with a confrontation and research stage, which contextualizes the response articulation to the scenario at hand. The rigor in the description of human interaction narrows down the field of phenomena and results in better developments for these same. “You have to teach better boundary objects, better ways to communicate across different disciplines. Students are already interacting with other disciplines; we are the ones who need to catch up.” She quotes professor Dori Tunstall, from the University of Swinburne, Australia: What are your values? What do you believe? In the land of misfit toys Seeking something to achieve? Yet, it’s not fame or money You won’t be that deceived. You need that deeper meaning From DAnthro to receive.
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ECONOMIC EFFICIENCY AND SUSTAINABILITY IN THE WATER SUPPLY AND SANITATION INDUSTRY
MARÍA MOLINOS ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering Faculty of Architecture, Design and Urban Studies Degree in Environmental Sciences, Universidad de Valencia, Spain Master in Science in Environmental Engineering, Universidad de Valencia and Universidad Politécnica de Valencia, Spain Master of Science in Applied Economics, National University of Distance Education, Spain Doctor of Philosophy in Local and Territorial Development, Universidad de Valencia and Universitat Jaume I de Castellón, Spain
The assessment of sustainable and efficient sanitary processes has been the main focus of academic María Molinos’ research. With a degree in Environmental Sciences, she has studied productivity in water and sanitation companies, the economic viability of the processes involved and the valuation of the environmental benefits of such services. “To understand sustainability as a term involving economic, environmental and social dimensions; it is necessary to consider hydraulic and environmental engineering as a multidisciplinary area. In my case, I have focused on the economic efficiency of procedures for wastewater treatment,” outlines Molinos, adding that, “synergy between chemical and civil engineers is fundamental.” Focused on this area, she and other professionals from more than ten spanish universities have developed a research project with the aim of designing a wastewater treatment plant for the twenty-first century. An assessment was made of the costs of implementing more thorough treatment processes with advanced technology that eliminate emerging contaminants, along with a feasibility study on the incorporation of new purification processes that benefit the entire community. “This plant will incorporate processes to remove contaminants that are not currently being eliminated, such as pharmaceutical traces and the treatment of odours” she points out. The environmental benefits of such treatment plants are certainly visible in the long
term, even though the initial investment is high: natural environments are protected and future generations could enjoy water bodies providing several services. However, differences exist between developed and developing nations. “We haven’t designed just one type of plant to be reproduced all over the world, given that the situation differs from country to country. Some nations simply do not have the necessary financial resources to invest in treatment plants of this type, and are thus unable to incur such an expense. But they do need to be supplied with basic treatment plants. If one of these latest-generation treatment plants is set up, it would be difficult to maintain in the long term, as there would be a shortage of those able to administer the plant, due to the lack of specialized knowledge at the local level,” indicates the academic. However, Molinos also states that in developed countries, a message needs to be disseminated across all disciplines of the need to invest in improved processes for wastewater treatment, so that there is a lower impact on the environment, and a better quality of life for citizens. “Chile is among the countries that have more opportunities to introduce better technology into their wastewater industries, as the coverage provided by its plants is high. Given the situation of climate change, people appreciate measures taken to protect the environment, along with more sustainable surroundings. We must foster social awareness.”
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VIRTUAL CONSTRUCTIONS THAT PREVENT ERRORS IN THE FIELD
CLAUDIO MOURGUES ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Construction Engineering and Management Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, Stanford University, United States
Professor Claudio Mourgues specializes in information technologies for the construction industry, particularly in virtual design and construction, using virtual models to support the design, construction and operation of infrastructure, mainly Building Information Modeling (BIM), 4D (3D + time), and geographic information systems (GIS). He also works with process models and organizational models related to the construction industry. These models are the basic support for analyses and optimizations at different project stages, such as thermal energy analysis, cost estimates, schedules, constructability, etc. The application of technologies associated with these virtual models is one of the professor’s main lines of work. An example is the definition of a GIS system to perform spatial analysis to support the prioritization of road maintenance projects as part of an urban pavement management system, a project that involves several professors from the department of Construction Engineering and Management, Universidad Católica. Another example of research along this line is the field of
parametric modeling. Professor Mourgues studies the use of parametric design to optimize development projects and semi-automate the Target-Value-Design process. He also conducts research in the implementation of technology, notably the development of a method to plan the implementation of BIM within a company, and the formalization of BIM interaction diagrams between the various project stakeholders (architect, builder, client, inspector, etc.) and the assessment of impact on project outcomes. Most of the research conducted by the professor is based on its application in companies, mainly the softer issues of implementation. Claudio Mourgues highlights this, but warns that it brings advantages and disadvantages. Projects are more dependent on the availability of the company, but also have greater impact because soft implementations have the greatest potential to generate change in the short- and mediumterm in the industry.
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COMMITMENT TO PROCESS MINING
JORGE MUÑOZ ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Computer Science Computer Engineer, Universitat Politécnica de Catalunya, Spain Master of Computer Sciences, Universitat Politécnica de Catalunya, Spain Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Sciences, Universitat Politécnica de Catalunya, Spain
Data analysis and the information that it provides, has become a passion for computer engineer professor Jorge Muñoz. The main objective of Process Mining is to transform gathered information into a comprehensible structure. This is becoming the focus of much interest around the globe, particularly in the business world. Data, figures, records and events can be managed a studied in order to detect bottlenecks that slow down the ideal flow process: once a form of congestion has been identified, improved routes can be suggested to achieve the final objective. Professor Muñoz has focused his research on validating business processes, recording events, discovering patterns of consumer behavior and analyzing the actions of the different stakeholders. “Process mining does not leave out data from being analyzed. Consequently evaluations of different events are not biased, but rather directly related with specific figures that allow for the detection of problems and possible solutions in order to optimize the process. This technique is widely used in certification processes and regulations. There is no leeway for subjective conclusions. We’re talking about a revolution in big data,” he points out.
Professor Muñoz, who has accumulated vast experience at international level following his research work in major centers dedicated to process mining, such as Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands, and the National Institute of Informatics in Japan, is convinced that data science is changing computer engineering. “Chile should join this movement if it does not want to be left behind in an area demanded by industry,” he says, adding that: “Professionals are being sought who are able to study procedures, detect conflicts, and propose solutions through behavior simulation and thus optimize businesses. Useful information must not be wasted.” The global demand for engineers with these skills caught the attention of the professor, who joined the UC School of Engineering to train students in this discipline. “At the University, we are committed to mining processes, and we have become one of the few institutions that offer a specific course on Process Mining. We also need our engineers to complement their education by working and training abroad. We want them to go out into the world to develop their skills , return to Chile with greater knowledge, and place that knowledge at the service of the country,” he states.
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HYDROGEOLOGICAL MODELS AND THEIR APPLICATION TO ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS
JOSÉ FRANCISCO MUÑOZ PROFESSOR Department of Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Ingénieur de Spécialisation en Hydraulique, INPG, Grenoble, France Diplôme d’Études Approfondies, Université de Grenoble, France Docteur Ingénieur, Université de Grenoble - INPG, Grenoble, France
The use of hydrogeological models to simulate groundwater behavior in several chilean basins has been one of the main research areas pursued by José Francisco Muñoz. He maintains that this type of tool can be used to determine the amount of groundwater available for sustainable use in terms of both quantity and quality, while also assessing the potential impacts of such an extraction. These models can also help resolve conflicts between multiple users disputing a scarce resource, or evaluate environmental impacts of groundwater extraction projects in environmentally sensitive areas. “These modeling tools have given me the great satisfaction of having achieved conflict resolution of great importance for the country’s development,” says Muñoz. Professor Muñoz’ area of e xpertise is water resources, specifically the fields of hydrology, hydrogeology, modeling and flow simulation and solute transport in saturated and unsaturated porous environments. As a professor in the department of Hyraulic and
Environmental Engineering, he has taught courses on Groundwater, Groundwater Contamination, Applied Hydrogeology, Applied Fluids Mechanics and Hydraulics. During his nearly 40-year career, which has included several terms as head of the department of Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering and Manager of the Hydraulics and Environmental Division at DICTUC, he has developed hydrological and hydrogeological studies for water supply for sanitation companies, mining companies and public agencies related to the assessment and behavior of groundwater resources. He has been a strategic advisor to several companies on issues related to the assessment and management of water resources. He has used modeling of flow and solute transport in aquifers to research issues such as copper extraction from tailings dams, aquifer contamination from herbicides and assessment of evaporation from arid basins.
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IN THE STREET
JUAN CARLOS MUÑOZ
“At first”, says professor Muñoz, “I thought freight logistics was my thing.” Today his focus is on public transport.
Two milestones altered his course. First, he was captivated by how public transport affects the quality of life of urban dwellers and how it influences their evolution. Then he obtained his doctorate on the optimization of drivers’ shifts. He looked at the issue of public transportation from all sides: the user, the service provider and the urban impact.
Department of Transport Engineering and Logistics Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science in Engineering, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, University of California, Berkeley, United States Doctor of Philosophy, University of California, Berkeley, United States
After completing his doctorate, he returned to Chile and joined the team that designed the Transantiago, Santiago’s public transportation system. Since then, his focus has been 100% public transport. “It’s a big problem, with macro- and microscopic aspects. For me, the design of Transantiago was a fascinating experience... unfortunately I think that only when the implementation failed so badly, I was able to understand many of its structural complexities,” he says. “It is a tough, sophisticated problem. Since the original attempt missed the mark, it offered a lot of relevant and difficult questions to think about.” And think about it he does, along with his doctorate students. He is proud of several collaborative projects: his work with Felipe Delgado to regulate bus circulation and prevent bus clustering; his work with Homero Larraín on an express services design, which was extended to the Metro (subway) with its red and green express lines; and his ongoing work with Sebastian Raveau studying how people choose routes, a project that has already had an impact with the redesign of the Metro map.
As a professor in the department of Transportation Engineering and Logistics, he directs the Center of Sustainable Urban Development and the Bus Rapid Transit Centre of Excellence. In these Centers the path followed by novel ideas does not finish when they are turned into papers published in prestigious journals, but instead when they changes our cities in some way. “They must reach the streets”, he says. The knowledge and passion of professor Muñoz about public transport has often reached the media. He has placed as member of the board of Metro in Santiago and Valparaiso. Also, he has joined forces with professor Juan Carlos Ferrer from the department of Industrial Engineering, in applying his doctoral experience in workforce optimization to create Shift, a company that provides shift optimization services for retail and transport. He also works with five of his former students in identifying low cost projects that could quickly improve public transport service in Santiago. “The beauty of public transport is that the lab is there. There is a lot to see, a lot of opportunities to intervene. It is complicated and requires the coordination of many players, but the potential for improvements is too great to sit back and keep quiet.” He is moved by this, it is a big issue. And those who study it “must be able to move beyond the models and put themselves in the users’ place. This process is about predicting what the user will do, not what you want him or her to do.”
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A PUBLIC CHANNEL OF INFORMATION FOR SITUATIONS INVOLVING NATURAL DISASTERS
JAIME NAVÓN ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Computer Science Civil Electrical Engineer, Universidad de Chile Master of Science, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Israel Doctor of Philosophy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, United States
“The first time I saw Twitter, I never imagined it could become so important,” confesses professor Jaime Navón, who is now a huge fan of this social network. A specialist in Web Technologies, he currently participates as associate researcher at the National Center of Research for Integrated Management of Natural Disasters (Centro de Nacional de Investigación para la Gestión Integrada de Desastres Naturales- CIGIDEN). He is researching the possibility of creating a Twitter-based information channel on natural disasters. “Twitter has an amazing dissemination rate,” Navón explains. Millions of tweets are generated per minute worldwide, which makes this an important communication tool. How can we capture the enormous flow of information and then filter it? How can we develop an application that is useful to people? These questions are part of the technical challenges he pursues as part of this research. Professor Navón works with a master’s student to develop filtering algorithms. “We have the tweets generated after the February 27, 2010 earthquake; we are using these data to train our algorithms to filter only what we want.” “Filtering is key,” he says. “All the tweets from the National Emergency Office of the Ministry of Interior and
Public Security (ONEMI, Oficina Nacional de Emergencia del Ministerio del Interior y Seguridad Pública) will also be channeled through this information channel.” In this filtering process one of the most important factors is credibility. Formed by a multidisciplinary team of engineers, doctors and journalists, the project began in 2013. Navón shares how enriching the experience has been: “I’ve learned to work with other disciplines.” This research is currently in the experimental stage. They are building a collection infrastructure. “We have a machine in the Amazon, we are capturing everything on a server in North America.” This application would eventually be available for download from the Apple or Android Store, and rather than connecting to twitter, the idea is that a person would connect to this specific channel for natural disasters, which will filter the relevant information. “There is a need to know what is happening.” “The development of a support channel would be useful immediately after a seismic event to inform people about what is happening. We don’t intend to replace the radio or television, but to provide an alternative for a segment of the population,” he says.
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FACILITATING THE INTEGRATION OF RENEWABLE RESOURCES
MATÍAS NEGRETE ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Electrical Engineering Electrical Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master in Science with a focus on Physics, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science with a focus on Physics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, United States Doctor of Philosophy in Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign, United States
Facilitating the integration of renewable resources in an economically efficient manner, ensuring a safe and reliable energy supply is the research pursuit of Matías Negrete. He is involved in a project about control of a fleet of electric vehicles. The goal is to use the storage capacity of their batteries while parked, to contribute to the operation of the electric system. “Due to their inherent uncertainty and volatility, new sources of renewable energy impose a series of challenges for the operation and control of energy and power systems. The balance between the power generated and consumed is fundamental to the operation”. Negrete explains that this balance is usually achieved by modifying the operation of the generation. “An alternative is to use the flexibility related to demand,” the academic says. Negrete’s research engages with various disciplines such as power systems, automatic control, operations research and economics. “Overall, I’m interested in problems that present an appropriate balance between theory and applications,” he says. Analytical and simulation tools are critical for handling problems with a large number of constraints and variables such as those related to energy and power systems. Part of Negrete’s
research focuses precisely on the development of optimization models and stochastic control for largescale problems. The electric vehicle project is part of a collaborative effort between the University of California, Berkeley, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Los Angeles Air Force Base in California. “So far, our most interesting finding has been proving that through the use of rather intuitive control algorithms, it’s possible to use the fleet of electric vehicles to provide balance to the service (frequency regulation, in more technical terms),” the professor states. Regarding the potential impact of this research on society, Negrete explains that the integration of renewable resources in an economically efficient way empowers the transition to an economy that is less dependent on fossil fuels. “In the particular case of Chile, he hopes to contribute to solving energy challenges by turning to the potential of the country’s renewable energy; leveraging these resources will require the development of technological solutions that could become a very important niche for Chile,” he concludes.
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BEST PRACTICES FOR SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT
ANDRÉS NEYEM ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Computer Science Diploma in Information Systems, School of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences, Universidad Nacional de San Juan, Argentina Master of Science, Universidad de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, Universidad de Chile
Fifty years ago, few people could have imagined the world we are living in today. Advances in mobile and embedded computing and the explosive growth of cloud computing are driving a revolutionary change in the way people communicate, interact, and work with each other and how companies do business. Mobile and cloud computing are converging in the new, rapidly growing field of Cloud-based Mobile Systems. The combination of mobile and cloud computing not only fosters a new generation of mobile applications, but also brings with it new research issues and questions. Andrés Neyem pursues research related to these topics. From a Software Engineering perspective, he has a special interest in providing best practice guidelines for software development in this field. “Augmented mobile devices via the cloud are able to perform extensive computations and to store big data beyond their intrinsic capabilities. However, developing software applications for mobile work scenarios is considered a challenging task, not only because of limitations in the frontend, but also because the cloud-based backend, needed to take advantage of this augmentation, introduces new challenges and requirements. These include environment, security, and performance requirements” explains the professor. The professor’s research is focused on understanding the requirements, design, building, and applicability of new software architectures and cloud services for a mobile environment. “The goal is for the results to serve as guidelines for designing and building software solutions for this domain-specific application scenario. This will allow developers, students, or researchers of this type of solution to generate better systems
involving less effort and fewer risks. These results will not only benefit the academic community, but also, indirectly, the software industry and other areas of our society,” he adds. Neyem leads his undergraduate and graduate students in developing software solutions for this type of mobile environment. He has not only published several papers for conferences, proceedings, and journals in this research area, but he has also made several developments in these types of systems. Some examples of his most notable projects are LiveANDES (Advanced Network for the Distribution of Endangered Species) and a cloud-based mobile system for improving software engineering education. LiveANDES is a software platform designed to collect, store, and analyze data about Latin America’s wildlife - data that could prove vital to the preservation of the region’s rich but increasingly threatened biodiversity. One of the goals of this cloud-based platform is to hide large-scale data complexities and their subsequent processing and transformation from end users. Shifting large volumes of data to the cloud provides a flexible and scalable platform for developing a variety of scientific data processing tasks. Finally, the software platform designed for software engineering education offers all the necessary features that allow for project traceability and has been integrated with a proven capstone course framework implementation to ensure the proper fulfillment of most academic and engineering needs. It is an integral cloud-based project tracking platform for both professional and learning environments, built from the ground up to support most of the requirements of agile projects.
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-MULTI-AGENT NETWORKS: SOLUTIONS IN COOPERATION
FELIPE NÚÑEZ ADJUNCT ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Electrical Engineering Civil Electrical Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master in Electrical Engineering, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor of Philosophy Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of California, Santa Barbara, United States.
How did a study of the flashing lights of fireflies influence the synchronization of a network of wireless sensors? The answer lies in one of the most theoretical aspects of engineering: control theory. This is an interdisciplinary area of engineering and mathematics in which an analysis is made of the behavior of dynamic systems and how to influence them. During his doctoral studies in the control of multi-agent systems at the University of California, professor Núñez studied a network of independent agents called ‘pulsecoupled oscillators,’ being an abstraction of biological systems such as those of neurons or fireflies. When these luminous insects are found in pairs or in groups, their light flashes reach a point of synchronization. This conduct can be modeled using control theory, and the models then applied to other systems. “We generate sensor synchronization protocols using the same principle observed in the synchronization of the flashing lights of fireflies. These principles provide a basis for analyzing other issues such as, and in our case, the synchronization of wireless sensors.” Such management of large-scale networks or ‘multiagent networks’ that need a certain level of coordination can be applied to an infinite number of materials. The agents are like us, people, being subjects that have their own opinion, in which and like fireflies “there are none
that command over others, rather there is a mutually reached agreement.” Within these systems of independent entities, professor Núñez is now working on a project that was initiated in 2015, and set in the universe of the Internet of things. It is formed by various objects such as computers and mobile phones, to sophisticated sensors and actuators which, when connected through the Internet, can be coordinated in a way that is distinct from their original function in order to solve a problem. “The idea is that taking advantage of the flexibility provided by all the elements being connected to the Internet, we are able to coordinate numerous teams to resolve a common problem. And once the problem is solved, the teams can be dismantled and then recoordinated with other segments of the network so as to resolve any new challenges that have arisen.” For professor Núñez, such synchronized cooperation that functions in a predictable and perfect manner represents pure beauty. “We must ensure that control theory will never rule over our lives, because in the end life also has the beauty of uncertainty, that there are things out of our reach that we simply cannot control. But in the game of mathematical development and control, things are this way: precise and beautiful.”
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MIGUEL NUSSBAUM PROFESSOR Department of Computer Science Industrial Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, Georgia Institute of Technology, United States Doctor of Philosophy, Eidgenössische Technische Hochshule Zürich, Switzerland
He is an international leader in education and technology, not in the field of actual “educational technology” but at the crossroads of education and technology. He is an engineer. “Technology speaks to me,” he says. By 1979 he had already built a computer. In 1995, he tried to get students involved by using Gameboy, an inexpensive platform of videogames. Education speaks to him in all its complexity. Since that time, he has continued to explore and teach. He won the prize of Innovation of Chile in the Education category (AVONNI) in 2011. He participates as member of the board in the government’s Agency for Quality Education (Agencia de Calidad de la Educación). He advocates integrating technology, currently only anecdotal, into teaching. Today it only serves to take away study hours from children, or it is brought into the home in incoherent ways, he complains. The outcome of these technologies is not automatic: he cites a University of Chicago publication which found that in Romania, children without a computer learned more than their peers with a computer at home. Technology without a plan can be harmful. He is not a full time “proselytizer.” The transfer has been difficult to achieve, he says. “It is simply not compatible to conduct cutting-edge research, have ten Ph.D. students and publish 37 ISI papers in five years, and at the same time pursue technology transfer.” Changes in education lead to conflicts. When he proposed introducing video games to keep students
active in 1995, the response was negative: one does not come to school to play. Since 2000, wireless communication has enabled the installation of small networks for collaborative work in the classroom under teacher supervision. Always one step ahead, he managed to install his system in several schools in Chile and he exported his idea to Great Britain and U.S.A. He remarks on the slow but incessant appearance of giant screens today through interactive work in the virtual world and collaborative work for those sharing the same space. The professor recently directed two projects in Colombia and Uruguay in which students who integrated technology with conventional resources improved significantly their learning. “In Colombia we worked at the children’s pace.” In contrast, in Chile, the emphasis is on presenting material and moving kids to the next grade regardless of where learning occurs. You can achieve personalized instruction for a child through the use of a computer, he says. But typically computers are handed out, which is what wins votes, and real pedagogy is left behind. He would like to transform classroom practices and create meaning for children, rather than “shove” a curriculum down their throats. “We need to create an Educational Constituent Assembly. The dialog should begin at the schools, so they are the ones telling us what we should teach them.”
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SMALL BUT POWERFUL
CHRISTIAN OBERLI ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Electrical Engineering Industrial Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science in Engineering, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, University of California, Los Angeles, United States
Professor Oberli’s research doesn’t stay on the screen; his prototypes are up and running. He abandoned wireless technologies “for humans” - the cellphone, WiFi, Bluetooth – some time ago, moving on to address the issue of collecting data from sensors in remote regions. The result was Wireless Technologies Laboratory (Latina, www.latina.uc.cl). One of Latina’s projects is monitoring the Quebrada de Ramon in the municipality of La Reina, Santiago. The goal is to gain access to certain information at all times, such as the altitude of zero isotherms and the soil’s ability to absorb water. These data are vital to efforts to forecast flooding from rainfall in the Andean foothills and warn the public. The information is collected by small radios equipped with sensors for temperature, humidity and other variables, and the readings are fed into an online database that is constantly checked by the early warning system. This endeavor is divided into two stages: electronic development of sensor-transmitting nodes and software programming to create an interconnected intelligent network between them. Once a node is activated, it identifies each of its neighbors, identifies its place in the network and determines the “drainage” route of the collected information. Drainage occurs via relay from one node to another, until reaching nodes on the
outer urban limits, where there is cell phone coverage. The network must have an intelligent response to node failure. If one node fails, other nodes are re-configured to drain their readings from alternative pathways. It’s like the Internet. He is interested in applications over broad geographic areas: hydrology, the forestry sector, the mining sector and the livestock sector. “We aim to cover hundreds of acres with networks of thousands of nodes,” he says. The applications may be revolutionary. There are thousands of these solar sensors, which are small and inexpensive. Some connected to a satellite and others to the cellular network. Together, they could support a process of early earthquake warning. An early warning does not require precision on the magnitude of the earthquake. If a group of neighboring nodes agrees by vote that the ground is shaking, the location and magnitude of the event could be reported within seconds to organizations like Onemi to generate an alert. The professor is proud of his achievements: “To bring a scientific outcome to the field, prove it in operation, prove the technology and put it in practice is a huge effort; this is what sets us apart. It can be used to generate a real benefit to society.”
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INTEGRATION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY INTO POWER SYSTEMS
DANIEL OLIVARES ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Electrical Engineering Electrical Engineer, Universidad de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, University of Waterloo, Canada
The focus of Daniel Olivares’s research is how to incorporate renewable energy sources into electric power systems. His doctorate, undertaken at the University of Waterloo, Canada, was based on his work with operational models for the integration of renewable energy in power systems, initially addressing the operation of isolated electricity micro-grids. Isolated micro-grids have no connection to the main network, and are intended to supply energy to remote locations which are unable to connect to a main grid for economic or technical reasons. “One of the great challenges in terms of the integration of renewable energies in micro-grids is that variability has a strong impact on the system due to its reduced size and limited number of controllable generators. This can manifest in load slips or other problems associated with the quality of electricity services in micro-grids. Fortunately, as we’re dealing with small systems, the models used to determine their operation are also small, which allows for a more sophisticated approach to cope with such variability, so maintaining reasonable computation times,” explains professor Olivares. This advantage of micro-grid models does not occur in large power systems, an area to which the professor has expanded his research. The latest study, “Operation models for the integration of renewables” has included the participation of department professors Matías Negrete and Hugh Rudnick. “We have developed operating models that allow us to maximize the integration of these renewable
sources, which are characterized by their high level of variability. The models take into account the uncertainty in the generation of this type of energy, and characterize it” indicates Olivares. However, additional difficulties exist with large power systems: current operating models work according to the assumption of controllable generation. “The question is whether or not you are able to handle the load that you insert with your generators,” explains the professor. By introducing renewable energy to the system, control is not such an issue. The challenge identified by the academic is to increase control variables through consumption management. “Flexible consumers favor renewable energies, and the system will be able to absorb the variations pertaining to this source of energy,” Olivares states, adding: “A flexible consumer could help the system integrate higher levels of solar energy, for example.” But in order to actually get users to support the integration of renewable energies, incentives and other strategies are required that “will help create awareness in the population of the benefits of renewable energy, and how people can facilitate its integration. That is one of the objectives of this study,” he declares. Regarding strategies for promoting civil participation, the professor adds, “This research has an important sociological dimension, because encouraging flexible consumers who are able to respond by decreasing or increasing their consumption with respect to certain system incentives goes hand in hand with a cultural shift.”
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GLOBAL INSERTION AND INTERDISCIPLINE
JUAN DE DIOS ORTÚZAR ADJUNCT PROFESSOR Department of Transport Engineering and Logistics Industrial Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, University of Leeds, United Kingdom Doctor of Philosophy, University of Leeds, United Kingdom
Challenge-seekers sign up for Ortúzar’s graduate courses. He is strict, and his coursework is a rare blend of abstraction and application. Working in groups, students tackle real problems but they are evaluated individually in a final exam. His strictness does not contaminate the warmth he generates in his classes. Although quite unassuming, he was the third Chilean to receive the prestigious Humboldt Research Award, the first Latino to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Association for Travel Behaviour Research and the first recipient of the university’s School of Engineering Award. He is co-author of Modelling Transport (with Luis Willumsen), a key text in transportation graduate programs around the world, co-editor in chief of Transportation Research, part A and member of the Editorial Committee of several prestigious journals in his field. He is fun, eschews formality, seeks opinions, answers emails, uploads photos to Facebook, and invites people to his home where he hosts along with his wife, Margarita Greene, professor of Architecture at Universidad Católica. With his Chilean and foreign graduate students he conducts research on modelling choices when discrete alternatives are available, like many we make every day: What drink should I buy? Should I take the subway or go by car? Should I use the shortest path or the safest? Forecasting in these cases is not easy, but it allows designing better policies, urban interventions or products. He has done interdisciplinary work in many areas: social housing, public safety, conservation of
heritage neighbourhoods, winemaking ... and, of course, transportation. In particular, during professor Luis Rizzi’s doctorate studies, they designed a methodology to estimate the willingness-to-pay for reducing fatal road accidents, which has been applied in Australia, Germany, Norway and Spain. “I am interested in understanding human behaviour,” he says. And he unleashes the floodgates on concepts related to research on “how people choose” and the problems associated with treating situations where people consider factors unknown to the observer. This is an attractive subject that has become richer and more sophisticated with computer capacity, allowing for models with higher potential to replicate the diversity of individual behaviour. Interactions with sociologists, psychologists, architects and economists have been part of his discovery passage, integrating their methods and designing common languages. He has researched in understanding wine preferences, working in collaboration with Chinese scholars to design wines suitable for the Chinese market. But transport and urbanism remains his focus: with his students, he has recently worked on understanding the unusually high fare evasion problem in Santiago, and in analysing which incentives could be offered to real state agents to improve density and social inclusion in the vicinity of mass transport stations. His international alumni network keeps him up-to-date and helps him place his students in the globalized world.
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MACRO AND MICRO MECHANICS OF GRANULAR MATERIALS
CARLOS OVALLE ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Structural and Geotechnical Engineering Civil Engineer, Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María, Chile Certificate in Applied Soil Mechanics, Universidad de Chile Master of Science, École Centrale Paris, France Doctor of Philosophy, École Centrale Nantes, France
Motivated by the environmental challenges of largescale rockfills dams and mine waste deposits composed by mixtures of fines, sands and rock aggregates, professor Ovalle has been interested in the mechanical behavior of granular materials: how are they affected by size, moisture, time and stress history? The source of the material response is at the micromechanical scale. In other words, it depends on geometrical and mechanical characteristics of individual grains and on their loading conditions through particle contacts. Therefore, in order to develop physical-based methods, this task requires a multi-scale approach. In geotechnical engineering, standard laboratory samples are composed by grain of maximum size from 5 to 10 mm, and specimens are less than 1 kg. Nevertheless, materials involved in real projects, as dams, railway ballast, among others, can have grain sizes of 1 or even 10 orders of magnitude coarser. Generally, laboratory tests are carried out on small-scaled samples and then the results are often extrapolated. Scale effects are usually not considered and the question arises: Is the coarser material more or less resistant, more or less stiff? Ovalle gave insights on size effects by working in France with devices capable of testing 2-tons specimens, allowing him to develop and to experimentally validate
multi-scale methods. His approach is based on the fact that the larger the size of individual grains, the lower its fracture strength. Therefore, a coarser granular material is more vulnerable to particle crushing when loaded, which makes it more compressible and less resistant. This result challenges the intuition of some geotechnical engineers, who usually assumes that the coarser the material, the higher the strength. Similarly, empirical data are available normally for given moisture conditions, however, in the field this parameter could vary significantly, affecting the mechanical properties. Professor Ovalle also studies the micro-mechanics of the problem, with focus on micro-cracks propagation into solid grains, which is the source of brittle fracture. Due to the slow process of humidity penetration into cracks, creep deformation could be significant. These effects could be the source of settlement in some dams, which take years to stabilize and are increased by rainfall and seepage. The scientific debate remains open on this issue. Experimental results feed mathematical models and lead to the study of civil works and could contribute to the explanation of observed anomalies. The challenge is multidisciplinary and requires interaction with materials experts, geologists, physicists, chemists, and others.
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MEASURING AND ANALYZING HOW INSTITUTIONS AND REGULATIONS AFFECT LEARNING
RICARDO PAREDES PROFESSOR Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering Economist, Universidad de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, University of California, Los Angeles, United States
Professor Paredes worked for the IDB and the World Bank and as a consultant to various governments and major companies. His expertise is in applied microeconomics, specifically labor regulation and economics. He chaired the committee of experts on “student funding for higher education,” appointed by the Ministry of Education of Chile in 2011, which resulted in five important laws. But in recent years, education has been gaining ground within his field of research. What happens with education between preschool and higher education? How does each of the cycles connect with the others? Paredes analyzes the ways in which institutions and regulations affect learning, how quality is measured, and how this is affected and evolves over time. Some important issues for him include the 1980s educational reform and the influence it continues to have on the different stakeholders in the school system, how parents choose a school for their children and the consequences of these decisions. Through a study of simple choice, he empirically analyzed the choice of families. He and his team used the location of homes and schools to analyze the movement of students in choice models. He has pursued this with more sophisticated models. The estimates derived from econometric models provide information about the particularly high cost of transportation, price
sensitivity, and how families view and infer quality without necessarily being explicitly aware of the results of the schools they choose. Choice models and geo-referencing households provided an excellent basis for developing simulations to understand the effect costs have on parents in school segmentation. He has been engaged in a line of methodological research that has led to the development of a fairly accurate form of program assessment. This is especially useful when there are no randomized experiments. He also has used his models to generate findings in the field of higher education. “The choice models in higher education tend to confirm the preference of students for a relatively small group of universities, which is broadly consistent with general metrics of university quality. The analysis of the quality of institutions and the development of metrics that can be made objective and which are not subject to critique by the arbitrary factor weighting criteria, has provided an understanding of the diversity of institutions within groups or clusters. Likewise, the analysis and design of selection mechanisms in higher education through predictive educational success models has complemented the very broad agenda that I pursue in this area.”
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CUSTOMIZATION IN SOCIO-TECHNICAL SYSTEMS DENIS PARRA ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Computer Science Civil Engineer in Computer Science, Universidad Austral de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, Information Science and Technology, University of Pittsburgh, United States
“Human beings are good at finding explanations to events once they occur, but not at predicting them,” says professor Denis Parra, citing the book “Everything is Obvious, Once You Know the Answer“ by Duncan J. Watts, which can be found on one of his office shelves. He says that “making predictions is the basis for customizing systems effectively.” Professor Parra is interested in developing customization and adaptive systems, i.e., systems that adapt to each user’s personal characteristics rather than presenting static content. His idea is to predict the preferences and tastes of a user on the Web or a mobile device in order to enhance his or her experience. “We live in information overload. Recommendation and customization systems try to help the user filter the most relevant information from a large data set that people don’t have time to visit,” he says. His research is divided into two main interests: social media analytics and recommendation interfaces. In conjunction with Dr. Christoph Trattner, researcher from Graz University of Technology, professor Parra studies social networks in order to make recommendations. One of his lines of research resulted in the application of My Second Life, a Web interface of a virtual space where users can socialize, do business and share knowledge and information. “Unlike Facebook or Twitter, we were able to identify the profile of a common user in the My Second Life network and simultaneously identify the same user with a buyer-seller profile in the virtual world,” explains professor Parra. “This enables us to determine which factors of interaction in a friend network can influence transactions in an online shopping network.” The scholar is also interested in studying the contents of the messages that users post. He wants to analyze, for example, if the feeling that can be inferred from
comments influences transactions or other user actions. He is interested in using information from social networks to extrapolate it to the real world, for example, to predict whether a user will create a new online store or to generate friend or product recommendations. His idea with recommendation interfaces is to complement the recommendation algorithms with the interaction of cyber-physical systems (to use the definition of German researcher Wolfgang Wahlster). This implies that existing algorithms are used but with the possibility of different interfaces that allow users to experience varying degrees of control or view information with various representations. How much control is given to the user to ensure he has the best experience is a key factor in the acceptance of recommendations: in many cases, if the user receives a recommendation of average relevance but understands why it has been recommended, it is likely that the user will accept it, instead of another recommendation which is more relevant yet the reason for suggesting it is not clear. “If a user receives a recommendation to buy a soccer ball after reviewing books on politics, it is likely that the user will reject it, even if it’s relevant, because of doubts about how that suggestion was generated.” “In short, I’m interested on the one hand in conducting studies to understand what factors influence the use given by users to technological and social systems (socio-technical systems), yet I’m also interested in creating models and applications that enable people to make a more effective use of such systems. Both aspects promote a constant cycle of learning and innovation.”
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LORETO PARRA ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Chemical Engineering and Bioprocesses Institute of Biological and Medical Engineering Engineer in Molecular Biotechnology, Universidad de Chile Doctor of Engineering Sciences, Universidad de Chile Post-doctorate Fellow in Protein Engineering, Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung. Germany
Professor Loreto has now completed her third year in academia at the UC School of Engineering. If her work was to be observed by a chemist from the last century, it would cause an adrenaline rush. She speaks of catalysis, a term coined in 1835 to define the acceleration of a chemical reaction —which could take centuries if it occurred spontaneously— by a substance called a “catalyst.” She speaks of biocatalysis, or the use of biological and therefore biodegradable catalysts to replace chemical ones, which are dangerous for people’s health as well as the environment. The observer from last century also wouldn’t be surprised, as they would have learned of the use of proteins, enzymes and catalysts. She adds an element. First, she searches nature for genes that encode enzymes of industrial interest; enzymes that can be instruments of production for the market. Once these enzymes, which work so well in nature, are found, how do we adapt them to conditions in industry? To do this, she uses protein engineering, specifically directed evolution. At this point, our observer feels uneasy, especially if the professor explains that in the laboratory you accelerate the evolutionary process of a gene to optimize the properties of the enzyme that the gene encodes. Noteworthy among these properties is the level of activity of the enzyme, or its stability, or its acceptance of different substrates.
And finally, the application: the use of the enhanced enzyme on an industrial scale. In her post-doctorate studies, the professor worked on the directed evolution of a particular enzyme which is very stable at high temperatures, but shows no activity with enzyme substances of industrial interest. Finally, she found a mutant capable of converting a substrate into a product: a polycaprolactone monomer, a biodegradable polymer that is in high demand. Today, this product is manufactured by the ton, but by using a chemical catalyst. The results are protected by a patent application and she is now working on refining them for industry, thanks to Fondef project funding, and Engineering 2030 which supports projects for rapid implementation with industry. At this point, the observer from the last century is surely sitting in astonishment, as would a chemist who discovers a new element in the periodic table, thinking of the endless application possibilities. This is how professor Loreto Parra thinks: exploit the environmental diversity that exists in Chile to search for new enzymes that are interesting at an industrial level. In this way, she hopes to enable the chemical industry to gradually become friendlier towards the environment. The observer from the past now understands: it is all about green chemistry.
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OPTIMIZING MANAGEMENT OF PHYSICAL ASSETS IN THE MINING INDUSTRY
RODRIGO PASCUAL ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Mining Engineering Mechanical Engineer, Universidad de Concepción, Chile Doctor of Philosophy, Université de Liège, Belgium
Chile faces huge challenges in Physical Asset Management. Economic growth largely driven by the mining industry has caused a steady increase in demand for production equipment. Motivated to help develop this area, the professor has specialized in the development and implementation of methods to optimize the management of assets, specifically in matters relating to the maintenance of industrial and military equipment. Professor Pascual directs the Universidad Católica Laboratory for Physical Asset Management. Thanks to his research, he is regarded as one of the drivers of Physical Asset Management at the regional level. “We have managed to raise community awareness about the importance of good management of physical assets throughout their life cycle, with a focus on meeting organizational goals.” Today he works with mining companies and suppliers to generate solutions for mobile equipment, trucks and road mine infrastructure solutions. This aims to ensure better overall performance.
As director of the department of Mining Engineering, he is interested in encouraging the development of an interdisciplinary approach to in mining. He views mining as a place where all kinds of professions come together, from the hard sciences and the humanities. “The most interesting problems are those that require expertise from different backgrounds,” he says. “This school, this university is a natural environment for innovation around mining. Yet we lack the development of innovation in this industry, which is a gap that must close.” In terms of training human capital, professor Pascual points out that his students leave with a different view about the management of physical assets, which turns them into agents of change for the industry. “The students develop a critical, creative and curious outlook. They obtain a technological and scientific training that allows them to solve a problem in an innovative and economical way,” he says. Professor Pascual envisions big challenges in the mining industry. He asserts that much of the production in this field will be closed pit. “We need expertise in the development of closed pit infrastructure,” he says.
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PABLO PASTÉN ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science in Engineering, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor of philosophy, Northwestern University, United States
One of the challenges that Pablo Pastén addresses in his work is finding ways to understand, protect and improve the quality of the water of Andean rivers. Through the study of the environmental geochemistry of a basin and its interaction with human activities, he seeks to understand the dynamics of arsenic and other pollutants that impact ecosystems and limit the use of water resources. The ultimate goal is to ensure that there is enough water and that it is safe to be used by natural systems, cities, the mining sector, industry and agriculture.
His third line of research is Sustainable Urban Development, and here his work is focused on critical resources such as water, energy and soil. “On the one hand we seek to understand the interaction between cities and their catchment areas, and on the other we seek to make this interaction more sustainable. This is done through the fundamental knowledge of biophysical and biogeochemical processes and the development of innovative technologies that reduce resource use and control sources of risk,” explains the professor.
“We wish to provide information that supports the community, authorities and companies in decisionmaking processes, management of water resources and environmental protection. Water resources are becoming scarcer, and there is a need for increased protection and understanding. What is the natural quality of water in a river basin? How do mining and industrial activities affect water quality, and how can we control such impacts? And how can we harness natural decontamination processes?” he adds.
CEDEUS, the center of excellence where he is lead researcher, hosts diverse initiatives related to sustainable urban development. One of the initiatives directed by Professor Pastén is a study of urban environmental geochemistry and its relation to possible risks to city dwellers. His work, in collaboration with public health researchers, on the effect of mining waste in urban and suburban environments in the city of Copiapó, allowed for an evaluation of the environmental impact of the floods that affected the Atacama region in March 2015.
However, environmental geochemistry is not his only field of research. Another complementary area in which Pablo Pastén works is water treatment. Through an approach that integrates models, experiments and pilot systems, he studies the interaction between chemical, biological and hydrodynamic processes in order to generate new technologies for the treatment of potable water, wastewater, and their reuse and remediation.
However, the academic maintains that his main challenge is not only to generate advanced knowledge about the environment and develop technologies, “but also to have direct applications aimed at solving real human needs” and “to be able to effectively communicate information to decision makers, whether they are authorities or members of the public,” concludes Pastén.
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THE THREAT OF ACRYLAMIDE
FRANCO PEDRESCHI PROFESSOR Department of Chemical Engineering and Bioprocesses Seafood Processing Engineer, Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina, Peru Master of Science in Engineering, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor of Science in Engineering, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Post-doctoral Fellow, Department of Food Engineering, University of Lund, Sweden
In 2002, professor Margareta Törvqvist of the University of Stockholm announced the presence of significant levels of acrylamide in widely consumed fried foods. The substance appears during cooking or heat processing.
Chilena para la Calidad e Inocuidad Alimentaria). The Agency is proposing standards for laboratories that evaluate food safety. It opens research channels on food, educates, and, of course, certifies and monitors the quality of Chilean food products.
Since then, the scientific community has been working on understanding the formation of acrylamide and weighing the dangers.
This is what motivates professor Pedreschi, who was the doctoral student of National Prize of Sciences winner and School of Engineering professor José Miguel Aguilera. Food should be healthy.
The announcement from Stockholm University, an “unexpected discovery,” motivated professor Franco Pedreschi to pursue this subject as a researcher. His concern is the generation of toxic elements produced during cooking or heating food such as acrylamide and furan, both of which are carcinogenic. Because we cook our food, we will always ingest acrylamide, but we can reduce our intake and prevent its toxic expressions. Professor Pedreschi researches the subject and wants to favorably impact the health of citizens. He wants to identify the main formation mechanisms of acrylamide in Chilean food, and use this as a basis to develop mitigating technologies. Professor Pedreschi is an expert on the subject and a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Chilean Agency for Food Quality (ACHIPIA- Agencia
Professor Pedreschi’s latest publication, which has won high praise, is “Chemical food safety and health”, which he edited with professor Zuzana Ciesarová. The book was published by Nova, New York. A dozen years after the original Swedish discovery, the subject is a moving target. Professor Pedreschi and his team work in an increasingly broader field of research. He heads the department of Chemical Engineering and Bioprocesses and also the Food Safety Laboratory, which is currently developing two state-funded projects. He seeks to mitigate acrylamide contaminants in two foods which are widely consumed in Chile: bread and potato chips. His career is enriched by the doctoral students and post-doctoral fellows that he directs.
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CONVERSION, CONTROL AND CONDITION OF ELECTRIC POWER
JAVIER PEREDA ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Electrical Engineering Electrical Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
The control of fire and the use of some fuels have made it possible for humanity to evolve in a short time. Our evolution is driven by energy (the capacity to do work). Electricity is one of the best forms of energy because can be easily converted or obtained from several forms of energy (light, sound, heat and movement), can be stored and can be transported instantly and efficiently. However, today’s priority is to obtain electrical energy from new resources, increase the local generation, transport huge amount of energy through long distances or under the ocean, improve the energy conversion technology, store big amount of energy and improve the efficiency and reliability in all these processes. Motivated by this challenge, professor Javier Pereda has been working on power electronics: the application of solid-state electronics for the control and conversion of electric power. Professor Javier Pereda is working to create power converters capable of transform electric energy with high efficiency, quality and performance. Nevertheless, the real challenge is achieving this without increasing the cost and complexity of the system. “Power converters are already very expensive, which is a limitation for real applications and the industry.” His research was conducted as part of his doctoral degree under the supervision of professor Juan Dixon from the department of Electrical Engineering. The idea was to redesign the multilevel power converter to obtain a simpler and better system. Moreover, another important goal was apply this technology in real applications. They were successful. They simplified the system’s technology without reducing the performance and
developed new optimization algorithms that substantially increased the quality of the power conversion. “That was a success”, recalls professor Pereda. His contribution to knowledge on new multilevel converters for enhancing virtues and eliminating disadvantages was awarded with the Prince Albert II of Monaco Medal. In addition, professor Pereda implemented this stateof-the-art technology in an electric vehicle powered by lithium-ion batteries and using a unique control algorithm. “Implement new technology in a test bench is challenging and is also required if you want to publish in the best journals, but implement it in a real application is a huge step forward,” he says. Professor Pereda is currently working at Imperial College London as Associate Research in related topics but focusing in other applications. “We are working on developing new power converters and controls to facilitate the integration of renewable energy and distributed generation under the concept of a reconfigurable distribution network” the academic said from London. The impact of new technology in power conversion is enormous and increasingly urgent. Manage the electric energy is the key to increase the efficiency of large industrial and mining processes, to transport huge amount of electricity under the ocean or long distances, to join electric systems among countries and to integrate non-conventional renewable energy, such as wind, solar, tidal energy, etc.
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A LAB WITH A VIEW
JOSÉ RICARDO PÉREZ PROFESSOR Department of Chemical Engineering and Bioprocesses Chemical Engineer, Universidad de Chile Master of Chemical Engineering, Universidad de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, Imperial College, United Kingdom
Professor Pérez leads a lab with a wide open future: The Laboratory of Extraction of High-Value Compounds (LECAV, Laboratorio de Extracción de Componentes de Alto Valor) uses cutting-edge technology to certify and scientifically validate bioactive natural compounds based on their potential value for the food industry. The lab’s future is bright: it is not limited to the study of plant species and their use in the food industry, which is currently its main focus. On the road ahead, they will also analyze their application in cosmetics, study microorganisms as a natural resource, and address the development of veterinary products for animal health and pesticides for agriculture. Professor Pérez has built a technological system with advanced analytical equipment that provides sophisticated spectrophotometric, GC-MS and HPLC analyses. The core capabilities of this infrastructure attract researchers who know that it is here that they will find the tools that they need to further their tests and experiments. LECAV is currently carrying out three main activities: First, it addresses the exploration of natural resources, isolating and describing plant and waste materials rich in polyphenols and essential oils. The main goal is to develop a database of natural resources available in Chile categorized on the basis of their bioactive properties of interest to the food industry: bactericides, fungicides, virucides, antioxidants, antibiotics, to name a few. Second, professor Pérez emphasizes isolation and processes with an outcome of bioactive compounds
obtained through the filtration and absorption of selected plant materials and agro-industrial wastes. These processes require the complex technological equipment and know-how that LECAV is proud to house. Third, having produced the bioactive compounds, professor Pérez directs their functional and chemical categorization. He is on the lookout for antioxidant capacity, antimicrobial activity and other potential applications, especially in designed food matrices. Professor Pérez lives in an environmentally conscious world. “The growing concern for personal wellbeing has steadily increased the use of natural products,” he writes. Many new functional and fortified foods with bioactive natural compounds are marketed in the food industry each year, including polyphenols and essential oils. These opportunities for growth in the food industry are manifold, and the explosion of new products will depend on, and will bring about, the socioeconomic progress of the many actors involved. Professor Pérez’s roots are in Chile, where he recognizes there are plenty of untapped resources with bioactive potential. His mission is therefore to conduct high quality research in order to create scientific-technological knowledge for the development of functional foods with tangible benefits which meet industry requirements and regulations.
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LEARNING ENGINEERING IN AN EVER CHANGING WORLD
MAR PÉREZ ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Computer Science Post-doctoral fellow, Universidad Carlos III, Madrid, Spain; Stanford Research Institute, SRI International, CA, United States Master and Doctorate in Information and Communications Technologies, Advanced Engineer in Computer Studies, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain
Mar Pérez explores and studies the incorporation of “Massive Open Online Courses” (MOOCs) into the academic content of the UC School of Engineering as part of the Engineering 2030 initiative. Technology is part of the dailylife in the 21st century. Internet and mobile devices have transformed our world and how we communicate, interact and learn. In these interconnected contexts, in which learning can occur at any moment or place (and is primarily collaborative), new educational digital ecosystems have emerged that require new skills and forms of learning. “We need people to be able to work and learn in these ecosystems,” states the academic. Mar Pérez has dedicated her career to understanding how the integration of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) can be used to support collaboration in these ecosystems for more effective learning. This is why she developed “Etiquetar,” a tag-based tool that allows teachers to create QR codes to transform any space into one that is interactive and allows them to engage in mobile activities with students. In the context of the 2030 project, the professor’s aim is to explore how ICTs can be used to help students learn more and better. “I am working to ensure that they
learn other skills that they need in today’s world, such as collaboration, self-learning and learning to learn. All of these skills are all essential in an increasingly connected world. It is also necessary for students to learn to solve problems, which is one of the essential skills of a good engineer,” says Dr. Pérez. One of the first steps in this direction is to study the incorporation of MOOCs into the School of Engineering. Pérez is looking to “provide students with opportunities to learn independently.” Currently, the work is focused on creating the necessary infrastructure and teams for supporting both the MOOC production and research within the Ingeniería UC Online (www.online.ing.uc.cl) initiative. Also, 10 MOOCs are currently available in both the Coursera and Open edX platforms. During the next three years the academic will work on developing the capabilities for the production of MOOCs in Latin America within the European MOOC – Maker (http://moocmaker.org/), a project carried out in collaboration with 3 European and 7 Latin American partners. Meanwhile the research focus will be studying how to support MOOC students’ on their development of self-regulatory skills in the Fondecyt research project “Self - Regulated Learning Strategies in MOOCs “.
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HOW TO BUILD THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE UNIVERSITY AND THE INDUSTRY
JULIO PERTUZÉ ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States Doctor of Philosophy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States
Convinced of the great potential in Chile to strengthen the relationship between universities and industry, professor Julio Pertuzé focused his graduate studies at MIT on this field . He analyzed how technology projects are managed as a whole and, from the company standpoint, how changes in strategy affect their relationship with academia. The transfer of new knowledge “is one of the fundamental tasks of the university. This third mission is becoming increasingly sought after by society and I believe that it is very important to be able to contribute and help to build this, especially from the Universidad Católica’s School of Engineering.” His research included the analysis of various companies in the forestry industry in North America, and Northern and Southern of Europe. He chose this field due to its potential for expansion into Latin American countries, including Chile. Which factors affect the outcome of university research and what is the subsequent impact on industry? He determined that there is a wide gap between the results of research projects, which are rated as very good, and the impact achieved in the industry, which ultimately ends up being very low. Why don’t these good results in research translate into competitive
advantages or increased productivity for the company? In many companies, the problem lies in subsequent implementation. How can we bridge this gap? Pertuzé outlined seven best practices for managing collaboration between universities and companies. Key aspects according to Julio Pertuzé’s research include the following: a good selection of projects by the university; effective leaders in project implementation who can adapt it to different areas of the company; sharing the vision of why this implementation is positive with the rest of the university; investing in long-term relationships with the university teams; undertaking extensive project communication; and supporting the project beyond its implementation. How can strategy changes within a business impact its relationship with the university? This is another question that the professor elucidated. In some industries, ties with the academic institutions decay in times of crisis, which can weaken overall project results or impact. “Building university systems, expertise and technologies in fields that might be relevant to industry takes time. However, it takes very little time to change company strategy, and deconstruction can be a very quick process.”
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NEW TECHNOLOGIES FOR THE FUTURE CHALLENGES OF ASTRONOMY IN CHILE
KARIM PICHARA ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Computer Science Civil Industrial Engineer, major in Computer Science, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Post-doctorate, Harvard University, United States
Chile is home to most of the astronomical observation capacity that currently exists on the planet. It is expected that within the next ten years, around 70% of the world’s astronomical observation will be conducted from our country. New computer tools are urgently needed to help scientists explore the universe through these large stellar databases. This need has led to the creation of new areas of science such as Astro Statistics and Astro Informatics. Motivated to make a contribution to these new scientific disciplines, professor Karim Pichara, specialist in the development of artificial intelligence for data analysis, is working on new technologies for the exploration of astronomical data. He directs the UC laboratory of astronomical data analysis at the Computer Science department. One of his main research areas is the automatic classification of stellar objects from patterns of variation in brightness in different frequency bands. There are several problems associated with this challenge: detecting unknown objects; early analysis of spatial data that is not yet finished; development of models that integrate tools already trained for specific tasks in order to perform
more global classification tasks; the construction of algorithms discover patterns intrinsic to each object class, without previously training; implementation of algorithms that efficiently indicate sections of the sky that are more informative for building learning bases for the training of future intelligent tools. Another initiative developed by professor Pichara is related to the data from the ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/sub-millimeter Array) observatory, which produces data with high spectral resolution. In this project, the professor is working to develop an algorithm capable of analyzing the spectral lines delivered by ALMA and automatically detect the presence of molecules in the different objects scanned by the telescope. Since 2012, professor Pichara has been publishing his work in top astrophysics journals, with state of the art models to detect quasars, classify with missing data, detect strange objects, and integrate different experts to avoid model training from scratch, among others. Professor Pichara says the problem facing Chile today is urgent: “We must be prepared for the arrival of the data produced by the new generation of telescopes.”
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QUALITY OF POTABLE WATER FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION
GONZALO PIZARRO PROFESSOR Department of Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States
“New discoveries occur when different specializations meet,” says professor Gonzalo Pizarro. “This is interdisciplinary work, something that we have been promoting for years in the field of environmental engineering.” Knowledge of biology, chemistry, geology and mathematical modeling are essential to address complex problems of pollution and environmental remediation. Professor Pizarro has been devoted to mathematical modeling of biofilms: bacterial films growing on surfaces such as rocks in rivers, wastewater treatment plants, teeth and medical implants, among others. In this interface, chemical and biochemical reactions occur, which change the surrounding water quality. An example of an interface is the study of copper corrosion in water pipes. Since 2003, professor Pizarro has led a research group in corrosion and bio-corrosion of copper pipes for drinking water. This study began in the environmental field, out of concern about the change in quality of drinking water due to the corrosion of copper plumbing. The increase in the concentration of copper can be so high that it exceeds environmental quality standards and can even be detrimental to human health. This is what was identified in a house on the outskirts of Talca, where the study began. The need to explain the phenomenon found in Talca forced researchers to look for hypotheses and discuss
the situation from an interdisciplinary perspective and from different viewpoints: environmental microbiology, surface analysis, in-situ analysis, hydrodynamic and mathematical modeling. “Copper is toxic above certain concentrations. If you understand how and why the metal is released into the water pipes, you can prevent toxicity issues or contamination of drinking water.” Through this interdisciplinary approach they were able to collaborate with professors specializing in hydraulics and environmental engineering as well as those from other departments, and have now expanded their collaboration to other universities such as the University of Notre Dame. Professor Robert Nerenberg from Notre Dame and professor Pablo Pastén from the department of Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering have joined forces with professor Pizarro to develop new technologies for drinking water treatment and biological reactors. They also drive the dual Ph.D. program between Universidad Católica and Notre Dame. Gonzalo Pizarro also conducts research related to water quality modeling in aquatic systems and their effect on the environment. Many of these studies have been conducted for the Chilean Ministry of Public Works and the Ministry of Environment in remote areas such as the Lluta river basin in Northern Chile and the Torres del Paine region in the far south of the country.
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EFFICIENCY AND ACCURACY OF MAGNETIC RESONANCE IMAGING
CLAUDIA PRIETO ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Electrical Engineering, Structural and Geotechnical Engineering and Industrial and Systems Engineering Civil Industrial Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
C laudia Prieto researches the acquisition and reconstruction of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), a noninvasive technique for medical imaging used to visualize the inside of the human body. “Magnetic resonance imaging provides an excellent contrast between different soft tissues such as blood and myocardium in th e heart,” says the academic, who is interested in applying this technique on patients with cardiovascular disease. “In recent years MRI has demonstrated a tremendous potential to improve early diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease. However, there are two major challenges that have yet to be resolved: quality degradation of the image due to respiratory motion during acquisition, and the length of acquisition time,” says Prieto. Prieto’s research focuses on developing new techniques for sub-sampled reconstruction to accelerate the acquisition and new methods of motion correction. “More recently I’ve focused on combining these two types of methods in a generalized reconstruction to solve both problems simultaneously,” she explains. The scholar, who is currently at King’s College London working as Assistant Professor in the Division of Medical Images and Biomedical Engineering, aims to improve the
diagnosis of cardiovascular disease such as coronary artery disease, the most common type of heart disease. Prieto is part of the group that designed and is currently teaching the first degree in Biomedical Engineering at the School of Medicine at King’s College London. According to Prieto, two of her recent generalized reconstruction projects have been evaluated on healthy volunteers and on a small number of patients with coronary artery disease and congenital heart disease. “The results show that the proposed methods achieve excellent image quality and a diagnosis value similar to standard methods; all with a shorter acquisition time and without requiring collaboration from the volunteer or patient. The methods must now be evaluated on a larger number of patients.” Regarding the impact of her research, Prieto argues that both projects will decrease the acquisition time of MRI images. “This translates into a more efficient use of the MRI scanner, with a consequent reduction in costs and greater patient comfort. Furthermore, this time savings can be used to improve other image parameters such as increasing the spatial and/or temporal resolution of images, which could result in more accurate diagnoses,” she concludes.
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LASER TO THE BONE
JORGE RAMOS ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Mechanical and Metallurgical Engineering Civil Industrial Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science in Engineering, University of Liverpool, United Kingdom Master of Science in Engineering, University of Texas at Austin, United States Doctor of Philosophy, University of Texas at Austin, United States
After seeing the windows of the School, filled with bone prototypes, you would think this is an embryonic work in professor Ramos’s department, but it is not. There have been over 200 clinical cases where the surgeon has been able to visualize the operation he is about to perform using these models. “And that’s all I really need!” observes the professor. But there’s more. As current director of the department of Mechanics and Metallurgy, his spectrum of interests has broadened to infinity. But his career, his background as a researcher and discoverer, is making an impact in the niches in which he delves most deeply. He starts with mechanical engineering, but his curiosity leads him to lasers as manufacturing tools. They cut, weld, do rapid prototyping. It is his duty, he says, to jump to the materials; not only the practical engineering of materials, but also their physics. “I have discovered the physics of materials, which is nothing more than quantum mechanics.” Without knowing the materials, he says, you cannot prototype; laser application makes no sense. You have to know materials on a practical and fundamental level. He has researched copper alloys with form memory, using sophisticated techniques of laser synthesis. He aims to imprint complex parts with predictable behaviors. Physics is not fully represented here; there is still a lot missing in the area of memory materials. The laser, which he demonstrates by taking out an industrial one in his laboratory, can weld, and also coat
and deposit layers on a material, which is another of professor Ramos’ areas of research. He also works in the modeling of the mechanical behavior of the bone to design prosthesis, first for surgical trials, and eventually for actual bodies. He has achieved four landmarks: First, he set up a process laboratory for laser materials, the LATIL, funded via donations, to undertake research projects that form part of the institution’s budget. This is a unique center in Chile, and has been the source of approximately 10 ISI papers and about 20 studies, including reports, theses, and doctorate studies. Second, the development of bone bio-models and their introduction into the market through the Universidad Católica Scientific and Technological Research Office (DICTUC). Third, creating a center of considerable interest to students. Around 20 master’s students have specialized here in the last 12 years, while another three have pursued their PhDs in Switzerland, Holland and the United States. Fourth, providing value-added to manufacturing in Chile. The professor visits companies and highlights the potential of 3D prototyping, furthering manufacturing with highly sophisticated object control. Students are the driving force: in this field they find material with which to dream and play. And because they are intelligent, “if you motivate them, innovations emerge,” he says.
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RANDOMIZATION AND OPEN DYNAMIC SYSTEMS TO UNDERSTAND NATURE
ROLANDO REBOLLEDO ADJUNCT PROFESSOR Faculty of Mathematics Mathematical and Computational Engineering Mathematical Engineer, Universidad de Chile Diplôme d’Etudes Approfondies, Université de Rouen, France Doctorat d’Etat ès-Sciences Mathématiques, Université de Paris VI, France
“Randomization has been my line of work since I was first trained as a mathematician,” says Rolando Rebolledo. “Randomization is not arbitrary or esoteric. Randomization tells us that in nature all the parts are connected, and any of these can act on all of the others. There is a deep unity in nature and that unity is demonstrated through two principles, interconnection and interaction.” To explain this, Dr. Rebolledo resorts to open systems. We usually attempt to study phenomena as closed systems, isolated from their environment. An open system, however, considers all the elements that can influence it, even if they are not observed. “To understand an open system we need the principles of interdependence and interconnection, which are present in nature. These systems need to be described by mathematical theories that model randomization: Probabilities and Stochastic Analysis.” Rebolledo’s works came to inaugurate a new branch of the Theory of Stochastic Processes. It incorporates the analysis of poor topologies of measurements through structural process properties (Central limit Theorems for martingales and semi-martingales). He is also known for his work applying Stochastic Analysis to open systems in physics, especially Quantum Optics, furthering the Theory of Quantum Markovian Semigroups, and to biology and more recently, to Ecology.
He collaborated with professor Rolando Chuaqui in the Foundation of the Universidad Católica School of Mathematics; he has chaired the Mathematical Society of Chile several times and directed the Committee on Development and Exchange of the International Mathematical Union. His research has received two awards: the Presidential Chair in Science, and the Universidad Católica Award. A champion of interdisciplinary work as inspiration for his mathematical research, he leads the Center for Stochastic Analysis and Applications (ANESTOC), is actively involved in the development of mathematics and engineering at the University, as well as in various projects that include the participation of engineers, biologists and physicists. He explains part of his project in CIRIC (Center of Excellence formed by INRIA Chile) based on the numerical modeling of wind farms: “It doesn’t make sense to think of the energy obtained from a single isolated wind generator. It is an open (or complex) system, so you have to consider all possible wind variations depending on climate, altitude and topography of the terrain… An open system is composed of a part that we call principal, always interacting with everything around it, in constant motion.”
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VISUALLY SIMPLIFYING THE NEVER-ENDING
JUAN REUTTER ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Computer Science Industrial Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Computer Science, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, Edinburgh University, United Kingdom
“The most terrible thing is that you can formally demonstrate that there are some things that the computer cannot do. It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s one of the most beautiful things in the theory of computing,” says professor Reutter. He pursues visualization and analysis of information structured in graphs, in a network of connected nodes, such as a social network. He doesn’t study information, databases, structured as banks do, in spreadsheets where the analysis is almost obvious. Graph databases for one, are huge, endless… and structurally “loose or slack,” which complicates things. The professor recently obtained his doctorate degree in Scotland, where he worked in the world of logical abstractions. Contemporaneity incorporates so much data organized in graphs that it becomes increasingly imperative to analyze them. In medicine, the gene databases will give rise to gene therapy; in astronomy, the immensity of the collected information requires that it is represented graphically to generalize knowledge; in e-commerce, the analysis of market participants requires an increasingly finer analysis to truly optimize it; in botany, ethnography, history, philosophy, sociology...the list goes on. Professor Reutter wants to know how to analyze a graph, filtering information to see a smaller segment. He is
supported by Fondecyt, which provided the resources for an initiation project. “We need to build bases, knowledge that allows us to fully understand what we want, what we have, what we need. The practical approach will come later,” he says. “If we start to tackle the issue on a practical level, without the bases, we will have a solution to a particular case, but we will not comprehend which elements are excluded from the final result or why.” He seeks for ways to generate “views,” visual representations of graphic information. And he needs these to be universal, “to function regardless of what my database set is,” he says. A knowledge and mastery of the bases are what define the outer limits. “Sometimes you say, ‘watch out, because if you really want to work with this, you will not be able to do it; take another route, look for another approach, put less or more constraints on the problem.’” Like the graphs, the field he undertakes is immense. “There are thousands of aspects you have to solve, the data volumes are huge... but this is the future impact, to be able to navigate and extract all that information that is out there, just waiting for us,” he concludes.
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KEEPING AN EYE ON FINANCE
TOMÁS REYES ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering Industrial Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Computer Science, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science in Business Administration, University of California, Berkeley, United States Doctor of Philosophy, Finance, University of California, Berkeley, United States
Professor Tomás Reyes specializes in finance; however, his research is in one of the newer areas: its relationship to human behavior. The different sophistication profiles of investors and how their levels of attention influence the financial markets are part of the professor’s study area. These studies have helped reveal if financial markets are affected differently by professional investors versus retail investors, i.e., non-professionals who invest their savings in stocks, for example. Studies show that the level of attention of retail investors on stock may deviate its price from its fundamental value, which challenges traditional finance theory, which considers that price fluctuations are only generated based on existing information about future cash flows of an asset in the market. Under this premise, a news story in the media may have the ability to affect prices not only by virtue of the information it provides, but also by the level of attention it gets from some investors. On average, retail investors buy stock that appeals to them, positively influencing its price, regardless of the type of news that generated the increase in attention; therefore the asset price can climb even if the publicity is negative.
Supported by empirical studies, one of his papers tries to explain why the impact on price is higher after negative news than positive news. One explanation is that, because of their human condition, people are simply predisposed to pay higher levels of attention to a negative stimulus than a positive one. This is the same phenomenon that explains why, when given a choice we always want to know the bad before the good news, and why newspapers and news reports focus more on negative stories. In this paper, the question is whether or not retail investors hold a negative bias regarding market events that appeal to them, such as extreme stock returns. This is what motivates professor Tomás Reyes. One of the main tools he uses to measure the attention of retail investors is Google Trends, which identifies the most frequent user searches over a certain period of time and assesses how attention levels fluctuate. Tomás Reyes is one of the few researchers dedicated to behavioral finance in Chile. It is a relatively new area, but already well-established and with important contributions, where there are still many questions that need answering.
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SPECTRA OF SEISMIC DESIGN AND SEISMIC RISK-THREAT
RAFAEL RIDDELL PROFESSOR EMERITUS Department of Structural and Geotechnical Engineering Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, University of Illinois, United States Doctor of Philosophy, University of Illinois, United States
The seismic spectrum is a graphical representation of the effect of earthquakes on structures and civil works, representing the different response they suffer depending on their characteristics, specifically their dynamic properties in relation to their natural vibration frequency. Nathan M. Newmark and William J. Hall, from the University of Illinois, were the great leaders of the spectral formulation. Rafael Riddell identified the spectral formulation in the inelastic response range based on sophisticated models of structural behavior. His thesis remains a fundamental resource on the subject, and the conclusions of Newmark, Hall and Riddell now govern most of the existing design spectra in design standards in most countries around the world. In Chile, the design spectra of the NCh433.Of1996Mod2009 Standard, Seismic Design of Buildings, are consistent with studies by Riddell for Chilean accelerographic records spectra. He plans to conduct further studies to include the effect of the February 2010 earthquake. However after 4 years, he is still awaiting the geotechnical classification of many accelerographic record stations for the earthquake, due to the economic constraints of soil surveys. “Such a classification is needed to link the spectral forms to groups of soils with different dynamic amplification characteristics,” says the scholar, who
worked with Newmark, his Ph.D. thesis adviser at the University of Illinois. Professor Riddell also researches seismic threat, i.e., he determines the ground accelerations that could affect different sites (geographic locations) during an earthquake. “It is basically a probabilistic matter, since the occurrence of earthquakes, especially the larger ones, is essentially uncertain. For example, we could define which event may occur with a 10% probability in a 50-year period, which is mathematically equivalent to a return period of 475 years,” he affirms. Dr. Riddell points out that in addition to the threat, the risk itself can be assessed. “The risk is the economic assessment of the damage that an earthquake of a given magnitude can produce. This depends not only on the earthquake itself but clearly on both the materials and the structural design of a structure,” explains the professor. Dr. Riddell is co-author of a paper published in 2002 in the journal, Engineering Structures, Elsevier Science Ltd.: “An integrated model for earthquake risk assessment of buildings”, co-authors M. Álvarez, J.C. De la Llera, and T. Fischer. This paper received the honor of being awarded Best Paper of the Year by the magazine.
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DEVELOPMENT OF EARLY WARNING SYSTEMS
MIGUEL RÍOS ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Electrical Engineering Electrical Engineer, Universidad de Chile Master of Science, University of Ottawa, Canada Doctor of Philosophy, University of Ottawa, Canada
Forty years ago, telecommunications in general were all analog. Internet did not exist, there were no mobile phones, and long distance telephony was via satellite. “Today the situation is completely different,” says the professor Miguel Ríos. “Progress in telecommunications over the past 20 years has been amazing. There have been technologies that have disappeared and others have conformed to expectations,” he points out. When he undertook his graduate studies at the University of Ottawa in Canada, Ríos worked on LAN protocols (Local Area Networks). He created a protocol that is currently not in use, but did provide a scientific contribution to the area of telecommunications. During his career he has participated as head researcher or co-researcher on numerous projects, which have generated more than 60 national and international publications. He is currently working with the National Research Center for Integrated Natural Disaster Management (CIGIDEN). He works on an early warning system to detect earthquakes and then transmit that information to control centers like the National Emergency Office of the Ministry of the Interior and Public Security (Oficina Nacional de Emergencia del Ministerio del Interior y Seguridad Pública-ONEMI), the final aim of which is to
forewarn the population so that it is prepared before an earthquake takes place. The professor said that he initially thought he was going to have to design the system from scratch. However, there are some things that can be bought. His contribution will focus on the architecture of the whole system. This involves defining the sensors and how they connect with each other, which requires a direct communication system to ONEMI, plus software that receives the signals emitted by an earthquake. “The main difference between the system I am proposing and the Japanese system is that theirs has an elevated cost. They use a different detection structure to the one I propose,” says professor Ríos. His idea is to position sensors that transmit coded information to Antofagasta, and from there disseminate the information. He explains that the research will need to define the architecture, and conduct modeling and simulations to ensure that the system works well. He confesses that the most critical issue is time. “If it takes you more than a minute, the earthquake has probably already occurred.” “This research will not solve the problem, but it will help us make public policy recommendations and that will be extremely useful,” says the professor.
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A SECURE INTERCONNECTION BETWEEN THE SIC AND SING
SEBASTIÁN RÍOS PROFESSOR Department of Electrical Engineering Electrical Engineer, Universidad de Chile Master of Science, Heriot-Watt University, United Kingdom Doctor of Philosophy, University of Manchester, United Kingdom
In January 2014, the Chilean Senate approved the latest observations made to the project that allows the State to authorize the electrical interconnection between the Interconnected Central Grid (SIC in its Spanish acronym) and the Far-North Interconnected Grid (SING), in order to strengthen the country’s electric power matrix and meet its growing energy needs.
AC Transmission Systems) equipment or elements such as SVC (Static Var Compensators) and/or TCSC (Thyristor Controlled Series Capacitors), which have Primary and Secondary Controls. These controls are responsible for damping power oscillations, which is the focus of our research, to design and coordinate these primary and secondary controllers,” he says.
Sebastián Ríos pursues research that includes a technical analysis of the static and dynamic behavior of the Unified Power System upon the occurrence of critical disturbances that may occur anywhere in the electrical system and particularly in the future interconnected grid.
Ríos is also clear and emphatic about the kind of interconnection required in the future unified electrical system.
Ríos is specifically focused on the dynamics related to the operation status of the unified system when failures and disturbances occur. “There may be a breakdown anywhere in the electrical system, from Arica to Chiloé. My job is to study, analyze, and verify through mathematical models, controllers designs and computer simulation methods of the operation, so that when a disruption occurs, the unified system can quickly resume stable operation, with a good power oscillation damping level and implementation of the remaining established metrics,” states the academic. “How do you get the Unified Power System to respond to disturbances with power oscillation damping?” the professor asks in his research. “This is done by incorporating modern technologies with FACTS (Flexible
“There must be a double circuit transmission line with an intermediate substation and Alternating Current technology between the SIC and SING electrical systems. It is the most suitable for the country, both technically and economically, as it allows, among other things, the integration of renewable energy at a minimal cost across the full length of a wide strip of the country, about 600 kilometers. It will also provide an inexpensive supply to future large industrial projects developed along this strip. Finally, the Alternating Current technological solution has an approximate total cost of USD690 million, a much lower value than the overall cost of technology solutions through a Direct Current transmission line,” concludes Ríos.
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CRISTIÁN RIVEROS ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Computer Science Bachelor of Mathematics, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science in Engineering, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, University of Oxford, United Kingdom
Cristián Riveros begins by clarifying that he is not concerned with semantics, the meaning of the data in each database. He is not concerned with the meat, but rather the skeleton.
Logic, rhetoric and language structure have been studied since the time of ancient Greece. Professor Riveros joins in the analysis in an attempt to develop standards that help clarify the queries.
“We study the action of extracting information from a data structure,” he says.
He also studies the internal organization of the database. Where to locate data and how to organize it? How to index it? What algorithms to design that will act like robots to organize and search for data?
Today the complexity of society generates numerous databases. The owners of vehicles with electronic toll passes make up a highway database; newspaper subscribers, the newspaper’s client database; students and alumni of universities...and the list goes on.
He works with highly abstract mathematical tools. He models the computer, the computing process, and where there is a procedure, he asks how to optimize it.
Databases keep professor Riveros busy, as well as millions of people who search current sources of information available today: Google, Yahoo, Wikipedia, and others.
He opts for a model of an abstract machine, one that answers yes/no, like an automaton, or another model that is better able to undertake calculations and identify gray areas in the information.
The databases that interest professor Riveros are more complex. They respond to more structured languages than the flexibility of the questions supported by Google, for example.
He focuses on the finite automatons model, on getting the most out of its properties, on identifying its weaknesses, its strengths, and eventually connecting language and database.
A user often grows frustrated when looking for very specific information on a database, because the response often takes too long or does not answer the question. This is the process that has to be optimized.
In the end, he hopes to generate solutions for the user, useful for whoever makes a search and gets a relevant and timely answer, even though the user may never know the backend work that went into this.
The first question is what language to use. The next, in reference to the answer, is how to process the data to ensure a correct answer in the shortest possible time.
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CONTRIBUTING TO PUBLIC DECISION-MAKING
LUIS RIZZI ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Transport Engineering and Logistics Bachelor of Economics, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina Master of Arts, University of Leeds, United Kingdom Doctor of Philosophy, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
“Helping to improve public decision-making” is partly what motivates professor Luis Rizzi, who works on a wide range of topics including understanding the impact that different funding mechanisms for transport infrastructure have on the provision of transportation services. This has been the main focus of his last two Fondecyt projects, the second of which is ongoing.
impact compared to a road tariff: when a fuel tax is applied, demand falls in car use among people on low incomes. This means that people on higher incomes benefit: while on the one hand they pay more for the use of their vehicles, on the other their travel times are reduced and this temporary gain more than offsets the higher monetary payment.
In transport literature, there is a famous theorem that was developed by Mohring and Harwitz (1962), which shows that under certain conditions, charging a fee per road kilometer traveled generates a revenue level that allows the provision of road infrastructure to be fully funded. Unfortunately, the provision of infrastructure is not usually financed by road charges, but through taxes on fuel or other broad-based taxes such as value added or income tax. The question asked by Professor Rizzi was what happens with the Mohring-Harwitz theorem when such infrastructure is financed through taxes. He also included in his analysis distributional aspects; for this he supposed that rather than there being a type of economic agent representative of the population, there existed different types of agents, representatives of different sectors of the population, for example, the income bracket.
The situation is different if road infrastructure is financed by taxes, such as value added tax. Two phenomena stand out: first, simulations based on plausible assumptions show a remarkable increase in road provision and infrastructure. In this case, the cost of financing the infrastructure is disassociated from vehicle use. As such, demand for vehicle use increases and greater road infrastructure must be provided so that travel times do not grow disproportionately. Moreover, this tax works progressively: those who pay the most are those with the highest incomes while those who most benefit are those persons with lower incomes (or who consume less), and who would not be able to pay for the cost of road infrastructure if they had to do so.
Thus, this department of Transport Engineering and Logistics professor obtained new and, a priori, counterintuitive results. First, he discovered that if road infrastructure is financed through taxes on fuel, provision of road infrastructure, under plausible conditions, is just above the corresponding level when road tariffs are applied, with a slight increase in the circulation speed. Secondly, fuel tax has a regressive
These results are groundbreaking in terms of transport literature, and their scope is relevant. As long as road infrastructure is financed through mechanisms that are disassociated from vehicle use, we will have increased provision of roads, more cars, more congestion and less urban space for other uses. In his current Fondecyt project, professor Rizzi is extending his research to incorporate systems analysis of public transport, studying the results obtained in the provision of road infrastructure, congestion levels, modal distribution and income redistribution.
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BIOLOGICAL INSIGHTS FROM MATHEMATICAL MODELS
MARÍA RODRÍGUEZ ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Institute of Biological and Medical Engineering Chemical Engineer, Universidad de Santiago de Compostela, Spain Doctor of Philosophy in Chemical Engineering, CSIC, Universidad de Vigo, Spain
Professor Rodríguez is a chemical engineer who is passionate about medicine. The daughter of mathematician parents, she began her research career at the Marine Research Institute of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). Today she is mainly focused on the development of algorithms and tools for modeling physiological, biological and biomedical systems. Rodríguez’s decision to study engineering laid the foundation for her main line of research, which is the perfect blend of the two disciplines that fascinate her. She began her journey down this path at Imperial College London and then continued at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2010, when she began researching topics related to oncology and ailments including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). “In the case of PTSD, what we seek is a biomarker to facilitate the diagnosis of this ailment, which is easily confused with illnesses such as chronic depression due to the similarity of their respective symptoms.” On the basis of this work, the professor developed a mathematical model to classify patients into categories such as healthy patients, those with depression or those suffering from the aforementioned ailment. The professor uses modeling to express the vast amount of existing biological knowledge in mathematical terms. “Today, it is very easy to obtain large amounts of data, but frequently biologists and doctors are not able to process so much information, thus wasting a lot of
potential. Using systems biology we can synthesize that knowledge into a mathematical model.” She adds, “My research is very interdisciplinary. I do not carry out any laboratory research, and I work in constant collaboration with other professionals. For me it is very important to understand, and that is something you learn over time so as to be able to speak a common language.” After joining the UC Institute of Biological and Medical Engineering in 2016, she undertook her first interdisciplinary collaboration with professor Ranganatha Sitaram, a researcher at the same institution. As part of this project she is developing a mathematical model “to better understand how the brain learns to self-regulate in the presence of neurofeedback. This is a type of brain-computer interface (BCI) that measures the activity of the central nervous system, creates an artificial outlet and provides a feedback to the subject in order to modify their behavior.” Modeling has a reason for being for professor Rodríguez. This includes questions to be answered, while mathematics is a tool that can test hypotheses through modeling. “I grew up immersed in mathematics and I think it is a universal language that helps us not only to communicate our ideas, but also to improve our understanding of them.” It is a language which not only allows us to express ideas through algorithms and equations, but also opens up a dialogue between various areas that have an impact on people’s healthcare.
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FROM DESIGN TO IMPLEMENTATION OF PUBLIC POLICIES IN ENERGY
HUGH RUDNICK PROFESSOR EMERITUS Department of Electrical Engineering Electrical Engineer, Universidad de Chile Master of Science, The University of Manchester, United Kingdom Doctor of Philosophy, The University of Manchester, United Kingdom
Dr. Hugh Rudnick Van de Wyngard not only contributes through his technical vision as an electrical engineer, of master researcher in energy, but also through his political experience. He has the necessary political, legal and social vision. Rudnick has been called to join national commissions studying the energy issue. He passionately follows new efforts in energy generation, transmission, distribution and use ... and efficiency issues. And he knows how much clout people’s reaction has on a proposed energy generation or distribution: “not in my back yard.” He focuses his research on the development of electric power generation systems and electricity markets, considering aspects of planning, operation and regulation. His main objective is to contribute to the development of sustainable power systems, considering different dimensions: technical, safety, economic, environmental. Professor Rudnick has developed international research projects in electric energy, contributing technical and economic models, mathematical optimization algorithms, regulatory pricing methods, energy policy proposals and more. He has published over 300 articles in peer-reviewed magazines and participated in international technical conferences.
Perhaps what is most rewarding to professor Rudnick are his students. He has directed more than 80 graduate students in the field of energy, creating a permanent network for the exchange of experience and knowledge. His students have instituted the “Hugh Rudnick Award” granted periodically. His research has contributed to the development of sustainable electrical systems, especially in the deregulation of the electricity sector, the organization of competitive markets, regulation and pricing of electricity transmission and distribution, and the definition of public policies in energy. Professor Rudnick’s studies and contributions have brought support to businesses and governments in Latin America, North America and Europe, as well as the UNDP, UNCTAD, and the World Bank. His work has served as a reference for deregulatory processes in other parts of the world too. Professor Rudnick felt compelled to dig deeper into these issues when he participated in the early stages of market deregulation, a pioneering development in Chile, bringing together the identification of industry needs that were not being met either locally or internationally. And he continues in this field, as one of the most welltraveled researchers from the School of Engineering.
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THE WORLD OF HIGH PERFORMANCE COMPUTING CRISTIAN RUZ ADJUNCT ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Computer Science Civil Engineer in Computer Sciences, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. Master in Engineering Sciences, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. Doctorate in Computer Science, Université de Nice-Sophia Antipolis, France.
Today society finds itself inserted in a world in which technology is an essential part of people’s lives. Platforms used on a daily basis such as Facebook, Google, Twitter and Flickr are administered within the realm of Big Data, in which systems need to process huge amounts of information and extract meaningful knowledge. Added to this new situation is the need to receive answers in the shortest possible time. How do computer experts deal with this new context? One of the key disciplines is High Performance Computing (HPC), which allows computer-intense algorithms from areas such as machine learning or recommender systems, to run efficiently on high-speed clusters and parallel computers. In Chile, this area has been developed in a small niche to which professor Cristian Ruz belongs, a field in which he has been researching and working for the last five years. Four years ago, while he was completing his doctoral studies in France, the professor, who also belongs to the scientific committee of the National Laboratory of High Performance Computing, became a specialist in HPC. This opened a door that allowed him to discover a world that has also provided value added in the training of engineers who want to test their applications or entrepreneurial projects. “Among other things, HPC allows a task to be distributed using machines aggregated in clusters or grids in order to divide and subdivide the work, and thus improve performance. This makes the task more efficient.” In recent years, he has applied these types of models in collaboration with the Machine Intelligence Group (GRIMA) in areas such as person recognition. This involves the analysis of a large number of images and the development of algorithms that are able to observe photographs and ‘learn’ which parts of the image correspond to a person and which do not. That is to
say, they can analyze multiple JPGs and transform them into smaller and easier to manage pieces of information. “In this case, what I do is take all the images and divide the analysis among the machines that make up my cluster, for example, using eight computers. Thus, the execution time can be reduced, ideally making it eight times smaller.” In addition to using computing clusters for High Performance Computing, professor Ruz has specialized in the use of graphics cards for intensive computing. “They provide a much greater scaling level for these techniques. So if I carry out a task on my computer and I take a day to do so, and by using a cluster of eight terminals I could take one-eighth of that time, using a graphics card this time could be reduced to just a few seconds.” However, Big Data has not only set the standard for electronic objects and applications used on a daily basis. Today, programming has also become a key element for understanding and making the most of the technologies of the present age, allowing us to not only use applications, but also to develop and modify them. Furthermore and according to professor Ruz, computational thinking is a basic ability before developing an application. Ruz recently joined a new initiative to disseminate programming among schoolchildren. Known as the Corporation for the Development of Computer Science in Schools (C^100), the organization supports the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI) in Chile, and offers workshops in schools and universities. “If we teach young people how and what is involved in computer programming from a very early age, we can train professionals with skills that make them more complete and comprehensive workers.”
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MICROALGAE FOR BIOFUEL PRODUCTION
CÉSAR SÁEZ ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Chemical Engineering and Bioprocesses Bachelor of Engineering Science, major in Industrial Engineering, Universidad de Chile Bachelor of Engineering Science, major in Chemical Engineering, Universidad de Chile Chemical Engineer, Universidad de Chile Doctor of Engineering Sciences, Universidad de Chile Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
In the Laboratory of Renewable Energy and Waste, professor César Sáez performs research and development in the area of bioenergy, specifically focused on the production of biofuels such as biodiesel from microalgae and photocatalytic and biological hydrogen production. He strongly pursues the possibility of having a sustained production of biofuels from microalgae in Northern Chile, through the Algaefuels Biofuels Consortium, where he leads the engineering area, which is formed by several companies, and the Universidad Católica’s Faculty of Biological Sciences and School of Engineering. Until now, microalgae cultures in Chile were oriented toward the nutraceutical market and their volume was very small. However, with this project, the goal is to produce biodiesel from microalgae culture oil extraction taking place in the north of the country. His work focuses on production in the desert, particularly in Mejillones in the Antofagasta Region, a strategic site for the large-scale production of these photosynthetic microorganisms. The soil in this area has no agricultural value and has a high presence of carbon dioxide sources. Moreover, it is a flat land with seawater nearby, high solar radiation and limited cloud cover.
The professor proudly states that there are about 20 thousand hectares available for open cultivation (shallow pools) and explains that although the amount of fuel produced would be small compared to national consumption, what’s most important, “is that it would be introducing a significant carbon-neutral fraction to the fuel circuit in Chile, i.e., photosynthetic organisms are used for collection, fuel is produced and combusted in a virtuous circle, which is the direction society needs to take regarding fossil fuels.” Professor Sáez and his team designed a process plant to efficiently drain algae from the aqueous environment in terms of energy and cost. This is already a great challenge overcome, considering that given the low concentrations of a few grams per liter, other drainage alternatives, for example evaporation of water or centrifugation, would involve high costs. His next challenge is to find the best way to extract oils for biofuel production. In the future the professor wants to extend the use of microalgae to purposes other than biofuels. By applying the concept of biorefinery, he wants to utilize every last fraction of the organism, for animal or human nutrition, for example.
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UNDERSTANDING AND MODELING GROUND VIBRATIONS
ESTEBAN SÁEZ ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Structural and Geotechnical Engineering Civil Engineer and Master of Science., Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María, Chile Master of Science, École Nationale des Ponts-et-Chaussées, France Doctor of Philosophy, École Centrale Paris, France
Soil characteristics can completely define the perception and effects of seismic movement in different areas of a city. In seismic countries such as Chile, these site effects are particularly relevant as they influence the design of every building project nationwide. However, estimating these effects is not a simple problem. On the one hand, it is essentially a blind problem as it is not possible to obtain a full description of the soils characterizing a particular site because their properties naturally vary from one point to another. On the other hand, during seismic events the behavior of soils is inelastic, making the task of mathematical modeling more difficult. Moreover, there may be complex phenomena of interaction between solid particles of the soil and the water that often inundates its pores. Finally, there is no certainty regarding the precise characteristics of the next seismic event, which adds even more uncertainty to the problem. Professor Sáez’s research addresses the various aspects of this problem using different experimental and computer strategies. With respect to the in situ characterization of soils, he uses geophysical techniques based on micro vibrations and surface wave dispersion to make in-depth characterization and identification of the natural properties of soils. This has allowed him to develop several maps for soil amplification and seismic micro-zoning in different parts of the country, particularly in the north of Chile.
Once the natural distribution and basic properties of soils have been characterized, the generation of computer models needs to be calibrated using the stress-strain curves of the materials. To do this, professor Sáez is supported by a complete experimental laboratory for soil dynamics which uses samples collected in the field to reproduce the load they will be subjected to during a seismic event. Once their behavior has been characterized, micro and macro mechanical models are calibrated, so allowing for the understanding and reproduction of the fundamental aspects that characterize the seismic response of each soil type and define the effects of seismic wave amplification. Finally, based on the description of the field and laboratory results, high-performance, large scale computer models are generated for entire cities or neighborhoods that take into account all of the data and allow quantitative estimates to be made of the effects of seismic amplification for different parts of a city, identifying singularities or defining areas that are potentially more exposed than others to complex seismic site effects. According to professor Sáez, although this research will not necessarily conclude with modifications to regulatory plans, it will provide recommendations that may encourage the authorities to review the standards for the seismic classification of sites.
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RICARDO SAN MARTÍN PROFESSOR Department of Chemical Engineering and Bioprocesses Industrial Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, University of California, Berkeley, United States Doctor of Philosophy, Imperial College of Science and Technology, United Kingdom
Professor Ricardo San Martín builds an atmosphere around him for design thinking, which seems to spring from him like a steady beat and encourages his students along a similar path. He debunks the expression, “if you cannot do it, just teach it.” He demonstrates how designs live their test of fire when they are commercially integrated into society. He has pursued the development of botanical extracts for worldwide use, having developed these extracts from native Chilean or locally grown plants. “There’s no reason for Chile to export raw materials,” he says. The technology is available for local production. “I’ve always felt that as engineers we should contribute to building new technological companies in Chile.” He and his students have developed several commercial products, as well as a production company mainly based on the soapbark tree. This is an endemic tree to Chile, the Quillaja saponaria, which provides the raw material for many services and applications. For example, BASF distributes natural nematicide, based on soapbark, thanks to professor San Martín’s enterprise. Likewise, Codelco, the Chilean State copper company,
along with other international mining companies, currently apply an acid mist generation mitigator, also derived from the soapbark tree, in electro-winning plants for this metal. Soapbark extract is also used as a vaccine adjuvant in both animals (BAYER - FMD) and humans (GSK – against malaria). Professor San Martín does not rest, and to observe him reminds one of Nicola Tesla in his permanent quest for basic research applications. Of course he could just continue with what he has to date achieved: the ecologically sustainable use of a national resource such as soapbark; the setting up of a company that provides direct employment to 150 people and indirect employment to 200 others; exports totaling more than USD10 million per year. But it is not in his DNA to stop here. In 2013 he placed his efforts as a visiting academic on opening up new directions at the University of California in Berkeley, and he now works for the Universidad Católica from that institution, establishing a bridge between its students and Silicon Valley, motivating all those who come within his sphere of influence.
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ASSESSING THE SEISMIC BEHAVIOR OF MASONRY CONSTRUCTIONS
CRISTIÁN SANDOVAL ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Structural and Geotechnical Engineering Faculty of Architecture, Design and Urban Studies Civil Engineer, Universidad Austral de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, Universitat Politécnica de Catalunya, Spain
Chile is one of the most seismically active countries and the world. The February 27, 2010 earthquake once again put the earthquake resistant design of Chilean buildings to the test. Buildings constructed with reinforced masonry in particular suffered damage, in some cases severe damage, prompting professor Cristián Sandoval, a specialist in modeling modern conventional masonry structures and historic structures, to conduct a research project to evaluate the vulnerability of this structural typology. Using an approach similar to his 2011 doctoral thesis research, he tested full scale masonry, which underwent cyclic lateral loading, and he then numerically reproduced these tests. The objective was to establish the influence of several parameters that determine the behavior of these walls, and then propose an alternative design formula to current national regulations. The numerical tools used by the academic in the modeling of reinforced masonry structures, are applied to both modern and historic buildings, which
enabled him to evaluate the seismic performance of older buildings also built with masonry. As for repair and reinforcement, he says the principle of minimum intervention is what matters. “The priority is that it is reversible.” The models generated should provide an assessment of different reinforcement strategies. Masonry is a brittle material that is virtually unable to resist any tensile stresses. The challenge is to control that tension, while complying with Chilean seismic design regulations. There is currently a lot of experimental information available, which can use digital tools to be extended through a kind of “numerical experimentation.” “My goal is that by using a combination of experiments and numerical modeling, this research enables us to formulate an alternative design equation that considers all the variables that influence the design of reinforced masonry walls,” says professor Sandoval.
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HERNÁN SANTA MARÍA ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR
When we look at a picture of a mammal’s anatomy, we can see that that what holds it up is not only its skeleton; there are tendons and muscle ligatures that help to keep it upright.
Department of Structural and Geotechnical Engineering
This is how researcher Hernán Santa María approaches masonry walls. Could carbon fibers be used to reinforce or repair them?
Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Fibers became commonplace globally in civil engineering in the 1980s, but not in Chile, a seismic country, where more than 50% of homes consist of masonry, many in the poorest social sectors.
Master of Science, University of Texas, Austin, United States Doctor of Philosophy, University of Texas, Austin, United States
Repairing or rehabilitating housing is costly, and the industry welcomes research into the use of fibers in masonry to minimize costs. Professor Santa María found that there was insufficient rigorous experimental research on shear strength in masonry walls. There was, however, research on reinforcing walls outside their plane, called emptying a wall, but not for forces acting inside the plane. A swift kick can break the shinbone. You can’t do much by “emptying” titanium plates or surrounding the leg with grids. Professor Santa María turned to carbon fibers, the equivalent of tendons in the leg. He took clay brick walls and put them through loading and unloading cycles on their plane, measuring the results. Then he reinforced identical walls, adding fibers to their surface, assuming that this would increase their resistance and deformability capacity compared with the unreinforced walls. “We tried different fiber densities and different directions” ...diagonal and horizontal. The fibers fulfilled their role:
“They significantly increase the resistance, and you can even control how much you want to increase resistance... You can design!,” he says. It also increases the ability of lateral wall deformation, which helps redistribute force in a building in the event of damage. But, post-disaster, what do you do with traditional masonry walls? They used fiber to reinforce previously damaged walls, taking advantage of the newly acquired knowledge. “We noted that, even when there was significant damage, you can recover the strength of the wall and part of its rigidity.” They were able to produce a damaged and repaired wall with the same ultimate strength as an undamaged wall that had been reinforced with the same amount of fiber. These results and others have been used to define U.S. construction standards, he says proudly. But he still regrets that they are not being used in vulnerable buildings in Chile, such as social housing or cultural heritage buildings. For example, fiber should be used on heritage structures, because it is non-invasive; you adhere it, it’s between 0.1 and 0.3 mm thick, then you cover it, with no impact. Although the fibers are rather expensive, they offer a solution to protect structures through increased resistance. And they are there available for use in repair. They are very light, they are applied quickly and they set within hours. “You can’t just compare the direct costs of the system, but all of the costs associated with a repair project,” he says, and he knows that this means breaking traditions.
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PROACTIVENESS IN THE ELECTRIC POWER SYSTEM
ENZO SAUMA ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering Industrial Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science in Engineering, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, University of California, Berkeley, United States Doctor of Philosophy in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, University of California, Berkeley, United States
The 1980s reform which decentralized the chilean electric power system resolved many problems, but these were quickly replaced with the significant challenge of coordinating different agents responsible for power transmission, distribution and generation. This is what motivated the professor, in conjunction with a professor from Berkeley, to propose a previously unheard of concept called proactive power grid planning.
objectives, for example, encourage renewable energy, through a network planning that promotes renewable generators to be installed in locations where they are most needed. As we develop more sophisticated models that represent the interactions between different agents, we become more confident that what we say is correct in terms of actual setup costs for this renewable energy goal or another.”
The professor says his research has shown that a “proactive planning of the transmission network can induce a customized installation of generators in places where they are most needed”. His study focuses on assessing the best way to expand the power grid, i.e., which lines should be built, considering all the energy that could be in the system: conventional, coal, oil, gas and renewables, such as solar, wind and geothermal energy.
The professor’s proposed system is already being discussed at the State level in the United States, and has been implemented in some areas of Canada. In Chile more discussion is needed.
“Although in percentage terms, savings on social costs may not be much, but this percentage on the electric power system means savings of several billion dollars. By being proactive, we can be more efficient in terms of a greater social benefit and we can also pursue additional
Enzo Sauma applies the design of mechanisms and game theory in analyzing electricity markets. On the one hand, he is concerned with analyzing the structure of the market, an economic analysis of the consequences of different public policies, and on the other, he focuses on the modeling of different planning or operation processes for electrical systems, which require coordination with various actors and the regulatory entity that dictates public policy.
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AN ESSENTIAL TOOL FOR THE WORK OF ORGANIZATIONS
MARCOS SEPÚLVEDA ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Computer Science Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Each day the amount of stored data is multiplied, which implies significant challenges to store and analyze such information for any type of organization. To facilitate this, professor Marcos Sepúlveda, a specialist in the area of P rocess Mining, works to develop tools to help discover and improve their performance.
work with a larger amount of information than previously possible, leading to enhanced performance. He says that one of the most interesting things he has done recently is the prediction of remaining time. He developed an algorithm with a student to estimate the time remaining to complete an on-going process.
He develops tools able to discover more effectively the reality of an organization’s processes, to see whether they run the way they should. “This helps determine who is making mistakes, in order to correct them, but it can also detect if someone has taken an interesting approach to a given process, so this can later be replicated to the rest of the organization.”
“We developed new software that extracts more complete information than other algorithms, which have improved the existing techniques,” says Sepúlveda.
Professor Sepúlveda explains that they analyze temporary performance. How long does the process take? What are the different ways to run the process? Algorithms are used that run on a software package. The input from this software is recorded as events and stores information such as what the activities are, who runs them and when they are carried out. This information is used to create diagrams describing the process. Professor Sepúlveda works with graduate students from the School of Engineering to develop techniques that
Professor Sepúlveda worked with another master’s student to expand the concept to estimate remaining costs. How much do I need to spend to complete the process? Is it worth it compared to the profit generated? He stresses that the work they have done with these students has been quite forward-thinking and innovative. “It opens an unexplored line of research within the area of Process Mining,” he says. “Using the tools of Process Mining we can help increase organizational productivity and efficiency,” concludes professor Sepúlveda.
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A KNOWLEDGE-BASED APPROACH TO SUPPORT RISK MANAGEMENT IN CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS
ALFREDO SERPELL PROFESSOR Department of Construction Engineering and Management Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, University of Texas, United States Doctor of Philosophy, University of Texas, United States
Professor Serpell works with a team of researchers and graduate students in direct contact with the construction industry. “Almost everything we have done in research, to a greater or lesser extent, has been transferred to the industry or at least to one of the companies we have worked with,” he states proudly. His desire is to help improve the sector’s performance. He is currently leading a Fondecyt project that addresses the questions: To what extent is risk management applied to construction projects in Chile? How can it be improved? What contributions can knowledge management make in this regard? Various questions have already been addressed in recent years, such as: Which useful knowledge management application can be used? How can we innovate in the industry? How can we develop innovation management? For Alfredo Serpell, risk management presents major challenges. “We study how to help companies improve risk management so that they can properly address situations of uncertainty and risk that occur in projects and are often not anticipated, resulting in very negative consequences,” explains the professor. A risk analysis and identification, coupled with the development of appropriate responses, will help minimize or manage risks better. Serpell warns that poor risk management also affects the customer-contractor relationship, creating conflicts and economic loss for both the customer and the contractor. In Chile, there is still
little knowledge on this subject and in many cases the risks are ignored. Serpell is also looking for new knowledge management approaches and applications in construction. He says that “knowledge that is generated for each project should be made available to the rest of the organization.” From the vantage point of risk management, this point becomes stronger. “If all experience and lessons learned are documented for use in future projects, a company can use this to do things better the next time or at least not make the same mistake again,” he explains. Innovation also plays a role in this field. Serpell’s experience confirms it. “Incorporating technology and new ways of doing things improves the performance of companies in all areas, resulting in better projects and better companies.” He developed a tool to measure the degree of maturity of innovation management within a group of construction companies, in order to see if they were doing something about it and how they were approaching it, i.e., if the degree of organizational maturity in this area was enough and if there was room for improvement. “We must be alert to opportunities that both hard and soft technology can provide for project management. We want to further innovation and make it more effective and enhance its impact for the development and benefit of the company and its projects,” he concludes.
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TOWARDS A MORE SUSTAINABLE CITY
RICARDO SERPELL ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Construction Engineering and Management Architect, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master and Doctorate in Engineering Sciences, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
As cities continue to grow, concrete remains the most widely used building material worldwide. The figures speak for themselves: according to the most conservative estimates, global demand for concrete now exceeds 35 billion tons per annum, concentrated mainly in cities located in developed and developing nations. Consequently, the production of cement and concrete, and the construction and demolition wastes from concrete, have a significant impact on the environment. Chilean cities are no exception. “There are many illegal construction waste dumps, where concrete is one of the most substantial and significant materials,” points out professor Ricardo Serpell. One of the academic’s main areas of research is the development of methods for recycling and the sustainable production of cement and concrete. Serpell has explored alternatives for the recycling of concrete wastes based on different types of processes. More recently, his research has focused on the production of recycled cementitious materials via thermal treatment of the waste. During the process, “cement dehydrates and forms new reactive compounds,” indicates the researcher. His research is focused on studying the parameters that affect the quality of the recycled material, such
as the composition of the original concrete. “Results so far have been quite encouraging and we now have to identify a feasible scenario for this method from an environmental and economic point of view,” he says. According to Serpell’s estimates, recycling through the use of heat can be a cost-effective option given that the temperatures required to manufacture conventional cement are much higher than those involved in the recycling process. He has already considered possible applications of his research. “Companies could have a mobile plant that reactivates the wastes for reuse on-site.” Projects that produce large amounts of waste concrete would benefit from recycling and reusing these materials, while substantially reducing their environmental footprint. The recycling of construction waste is closely linked to another area of the professor’s research. He has been working on the restoration of heritage structures with Cristián Sandoval, another academic at the School of Engineering. Serpell is committed to the characterization of materials found in the heritage structures and the development of compatible materials for their restoration. “Nowadays the city is our environment and proper preservation of its infrastructure and buildings is critical to our quality of life,” he concludes.
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ENGINEERING AND ECONOMICS TO FIGHT URBAN CONGESTION
HUGO SILVA ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Transport Engineering and Logistics Institute of Economics Civil Engineer, Universidad de Chile Master in Engineering Sciences, Universidad de Chile Doctor of Philosophy in Economics, VU University Amsterdam and Tinbergen Institute, Netherlands
According to this expert in Transport Economics, Santiago, the Chilean capital, has a huge potential to improve the quality of life of its people by means of designing and implementing transport policies. However, this opportunity has yet to be exploited: “I think that carrying out research on policies that ultimately help people is very beneficial. Urban congestion is an issue that we all experience daily, and it generates high costs for much of the population. So it’s a good idea to identify global solutions for a problem we all share.” Professor Silva has studied three solutions to fight road congestion in urban centers: the implementation of public transport subsidies, road charging schemes for cars, and exclusive lanes for buses or bus corridors. The main emphasis of this research is to study how these solutions interact and how different policies complement each other to improve the welfare of society. In addition, he has researched how each of these measures impacts different socio-economic groups in order to identify in what circumstances they may be regressive or progressive, and to predict the support they would receive from the population. For this purpose, a model was applied using data obtained from two large capital cities with different levels of economic development. “This allows one to compare the differences between a developed city
with a high income such as London in England and one in the low income range that is developing, like Santiago in Chile.” He explains that in order to understand the complex system of transport, “it is very helpful to combine elements of engineering and economics. If you take public transport, for example, the operation of buses at bus stops is key to the system. Ongoing research shows that operational details of bus stops (e.g. payment technology and the capacity of stops) can affect the long-term pricing policies that need to be implemented, and may even determine if it would be necessary to build more urban highways or not. Such conclusions can only be obtained by integrating the best engineering (for example, modelling the operation of buses at bus stops) into economic models that allow for the design of long-term policies.” Over the course of his career, professor Silva has studied transport systems by combining engineering and economics. This approach has helped him to develop a strong second line of research related to air transport. He began to examine the latter market for his doctoral thesis on the pricing and regulation of airports, which also formed part of the course he taught on Transport Economics during the four years he lived in the Netherlands.
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BRAIN-MACHINE INTERFACES (BMI) AND NEUROMODULATION IN NEUROSCIENCE RESEARCH RANGANATHA SITARAM ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Institute of Biological and Medical Engineering Department of Psychiatry and the Division of Neuroscience, School of Medicine Mechanical Engineer, Mysore University, India Master in Engineering Design, PSG College of Technology, India Doctor of Philosophy in Neuroscience, University of Tuebingen, Germany
In 1941, a prominent German Psychiatrist called Hans Berger invented the Electroencephalogram (EEG), and thereby initiated the study of brain’s electrical signals. Berger’s close friend, Herbert Jasper - a canadian anatomist, once sent a Christmas greeting card to Berger in which he depicted what could be considered the first idea of an BMI for decoding brain activity and transcribing them to messages. Jasper’s visionary idea has now become a reality with prominent labs and institutions around the world doing research for developing different types of BMIs and applying them to scientific and clinical use. Professor Ranganatha Sitaram is one of these prominent researchers, known internationally for developing non-invasive BMIs using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS), and for applying them to perform cognitive neuroscience research in neurological and psychiatric patients. In the early years of his career, professor Sitaram worked in the Bhabha Atomic Research Center (India) to develop an adaptively controlled robotic gripper. Later, he moved to Singapore and worked in a number of research centers as engineer and computational scientist, including in the Kent Ridge Digital Labs. He initiated and conducted research in a number of disparate fields, including, artificial intelligence and robotics, intelligent transport systems, ubiquitous sentient systems and neuroinformatics. He developed a number of technologies that were patented and commercialized to form a spin-off company in which he served as a Chief Technology Officer. Professor Sitaram, however, found himself being increasingly interested in Neuroscience and the
emerging field of Brain-Machine Interfaces, leading to his eventual move to the University of Tuebingen (Germany) in 2004, where he conducted his Ph.D. research under the guidance of the world-renowned neuropsychologist, professor Dr. Niels Birbaumer, on the topic of Metabolic Brain-Computer Interfaces. After completing his PhD in 2008, he became a post-doctoral researcher and later a faculty member in the same university. He moved to the University of Florida, Gainesville, in 2012 as a professor in the department of Biomedical Engineering, where he built a lab for conducting research in the fields of cognitive neuroscience and BMI. “Although many years have passed since Herbert Jasper’s visionary idea”, professor Sitaram explains, “this field is still an emerging area of research. One major driving force for the great interest in BMI research among neuroscientists, clinicians and computer engineering is to develop a means for completely paralyzed patients to communicate to their family and care-givers by thought alone”. Now, settled in Chile, he is starting to build a new research center at the Universidad Católica called “Laboratory of Brain-Machine Interfaces and Neuromodulation”, with his collaborator at the School of Medicine, professor Sergio Ruiz and a group of young researchers. “One major goal of our new laboratory will be to understand the neural mechanisms underlying brain self-regulation. This new understanding will not only help to build new treatment approaches for brain disorders, but will also provide us a better understand of brain’s mechanisms of learning and memory!”
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ÁLVARO SOTO ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Computer Science Industrial Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, Louisiana State University, United States Doctor of Philosophy, Carnegie Mellon University, United States
In recent years, the creation of machines that try to mimic human behavior has become increasingly more common. Considered one of the pioneers in the development of social robotics in our country, professor Álvaro Soto has focused his research on the development of machine learning and cognitive robotics, namely, giving computers the capacity to learn from their experience. Just as we acquire new skills through experimentation with the world, the idea is that a robot may also acquire and develop new knowledge through machine-learning techniques. In 2001, after obtaining his doctorate degree, professor Soto began to develop initiatives in Chile focused on the autonomous navigation of robots. How can you get a robot to build a map of the environment and navigate it without the need for someone to lead it? That was one of the first challenges that the professor considered. Motivated by this challenge, he developed algorithms for the construction of environmental maps, and obstacle detection and avoidance, and made autonomous navigation designs. And the goal was achieved: a computer-operated machine was able to act autonomously in indoor environments such as an office building. Professor Soto recalls that he was aware of the limitations the robot still had; its representation of the environment in particular was still too primitive. For the robot, doors, furniture or corridors were only free
or occupied spaces to navigate. “We had to improve the representation of the environment and increase the robot’s semantic understanding, so I started working on the area of v isual perception. Humans use vision to distinguish objects, people, actions, or scenarios, so we wanted to give the robot the ability to semantically understand its environment.” Professor Soto’s research today is focused on providing a mobile robot with visual perception modules. This means that “the robot can understand its environment, know that what is before him is a door, not simply an obstacle, and the robot can potentially open that door and move on.” he explains. “The idea is to generate higher-level tasks, with greater semantics so that the robot can visit a person or search for a book, for example.” He has also collaborated with the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in this area. “I want to make a significant contribution to the technological development of Chile, both through the creation of intelligent machines, and in training new generations who are interested in the development of this area in Chile,” says professor Soto. “If we can provide a robot with suitable systems of perception, this will be the beginning of a new technological revolution, opening a wide range of applications that will significantly change our daily lives.”
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RENEWABLE ENERGIES AND INNOVATIVE TEMPERATURE MEASUREMENT SYSTEMS THAT BENEFIT WATER RESOURCES
FRANCISCO SUÁREZ ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering Hydraulics Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, University of Nevada, United States
Due to the high availability of solar energy, the low availability of fresh water in the northern regions of Chile and the social role of water for both human life and environmental conservation, professor Francisco Suárez focuses his research on this field. A specialist in distributed temperature sensing systems to quantify water resources, one of his motivations is to maximize water availability for society. During his doctorate studies, he studied the use of salt-gradient solar ponds to collect and store solar energy, to desalinate water and to reduce the salinity of terminal lakes. His research was focused on the use of computer fluid dynamic models to represent double heat and salt diffusion phenomena in solar ponds, and on experimental evaluation of a thermal desalination pilot system linked to these ponds. Based on the data collected, he has found that by reducing evaporation in the solar pond, the stored energy can be increased by approximately 20%, which is associated with an increased production of fresh water. By using innovative f iber-optic distributed temperature sensing systems and monitoring the thermal performance of solar ponds, he observes how water moves within the environment, which enables
quantification of water resources in natural systems. “With this technology we can see movement distributed over time and space, at a spatial scale of the order of centimeters for distances up to 5 km or more. This allows us to study interactions between surface water and groundwater, hydrogeological processes, explore geothermal resources, analyze eco-hydrology issues, engineering and many other disciplines,” explains professor Suárez, who has driven the development of this technology in Chile. His research focuses on hydrological processes, addressing issues of evaporation in both solar ponds and arid soils. He looks at arid soils in order to quantify the natural availability of water resources in areas where the only water source comes from underground reservoirs. His goal is to be able to generate fresh water in arid areas, where there are only saline waters. “The idea is to generate greater availability of water for society as a whole, but primarily benefiting small towns in Northern Chile. This can be achieved in two ways: developing engineering systems that allow us to create new sources of fresh water, and understanding the hydrological balance in its natural state,” underlines.
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INTEGRATION OF ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY TO STUDY BRAIN ACTIVITY CRISTIÁN TEJOS ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Electrical Engineering Industrial Civil Engineer, major in Electricity, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science in Engineering, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, Imperial College London, United Kingdom Doctor of Philosophy, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
“In Chile there is no equipment capable of simultaneously measuring the electrical and hemodynamic activity of the brain,” says professor Cristián Tejos, in reference to a new technology he has acquired, which will perform functional imaging through magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) at the same time as an electroencephalograph (EEG). These two techniques allow us to observe brain activity and identify which areas of the brain are activated when performing certain tasks or when exposed to certain stimuli. Through EEG we can measure the electrical activity of the brain and determine fairly accurately when it produced brain activation, whereas we use the fMRI to measure hemodynamic brain activity and thus know precisely where this activation occurred. “The focus of this project is to bring the two worlds of functional magnetic resonance imaging and electroencephalography together, to create a brain activation map that can locate things in precise time and space,” explains the professor of the department of Electrical Engineering and the Center for Biomedical Imaging. The standard EEG and fMRI equipment are not compatible, so he is in the process of integrating hardware and software needed for his research. His challenge is to use this equipment to combine EEG and fMRI in a single tool. “This would enable us to obtain a map of brain activity that is able to accurately measure where and when each activation occurs.” He also uses these tools with researchers from the Universidad Católica’s Neuroscience Center to develop Brain Computer Interfaces (BCI). The idea is for people
to develop the capacity to learn to control their brain activity when they cannot do it naturally. “Our focus is on developing knowledge and understanding how a brain works, what things are important and what is happening.” “Think of a person who had an accident and lost his motor function,” he says. Through this technology this person can train his brain to think that it is moving his foot, hands or arms. “This task is carried out mentally and can be measured and employed to control devices that can perform these functions for us or develop therapeutic tools.” One of these tools can be used for certain psychiatric disorders. In therapeutic terms we want to control certain emotions that might lead to depression or other pathology; in a sense “train ourselves to develop a cure for certain diseases.” He will have to solve a lot of scientific, mathematical and technological problems. He explains that the complete system cannot be purchased, so they must join software with hardware from different manufacturers and companies. The key is that “we have to make these tools talk to each other.” “This is not one piece of equipment; it’s a whole system that involves a magnetic resonator and the addition of multiple hardware and software devices. It’s quite a development and it will provide better quality brain activation maps, which will impact the development of knowledge and improve the quality of life of humans.”
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PERFECTING THE DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION OF ROAD INFRASTRUCTURE
GUILLERMO THENOUX PROFESSOR Department of Construction Engineering and Management Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom Doctor of Philosophy, Oregon State University, United States
About 35 years ago, Guillermo Thenoux set out to contribute to improving road infrastructure. He studied in England and the United States and has visited universities and research centers in Europe, Australia and South Africa, in order to bring to Chile new knowledge, while also developing some of his own. He formed the Center for Engineering and Road Research (Centro de Ingeniería e Investigación Vial-CIIV) and got his undergraduate and graduate students involved in order to connect academia with practice and develop essentially applied research. Among his contributions, Guillermo Thenoux and his team pursued research and transfer of innovative pavement recycling techniques, gaining international recognition for recycling both concrete pavements and asphalt. Their slogan: “We reuse the same roads and improve them.” His work has been the subject of coursework and government and private consulting contracts throughout Latin America. With his ears to the ground and constant travels within Latin America, he detected that roads with low transit, or the “roads of the poor,” didn’t get the engineering attention they needed. Since this discovery, he has committed to developing special
engineering for these routes, which account for “80% of road infrastructure in Latin America” and launched a project for the Chilean government’s Ministry of Public Works. Through his extensive research in the field of roads and pavements, he attracted students to the graduate program from all over Latin America. Working with students has allowed him to develop very specific research topics, such as: reduction of aging of asphalt pavements through the use of grape skins and seeds; recycling of concrete pavement through resonant micro-crushing; measuring dust emitted directly from the vehicle wheel; on-site asphalt recycling with foaming technique; development of high-strength ultra-lightweight concrete; development of articulated asphalt pavements that don’t suffer from fatigue; and use of Magnesium Chloride for complete dust emission control, etc. Guillermo Thenoux has earned several awards for the quality of his teaching and his publications. He currently places the greater part of his energy into the topic he’s been most concerned about in recent years; improving the engineering and quality of pavement projects.
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ROBOTICS IN MINING AND AGRICULTURE
MIGUEL TORRES ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Electrical Engineering Industrial Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, Mc Gill University, Canada
Like the rest of the world, Chile is moving from open-pit mining to massive underground mining. It is estimated that by 2035, underground mining will prevail worldwide. An example is the world famous largest open-pit copper mine, Chuquicamata, which will convert entirely to underground operations in 2019. Professor Miguel Torres notes that the surface deposits are being depleted and massive surface excavations are becoming increasingly less profitable. Building tunnels to enable a more efficient extraction with less environmental impact is gaining strength. Here lies one of the great challenges of his research: to create automated machines that can operate and navigate in tunnels. “Robotics makes sense for highly repetitive, tedious and dangerous tasks,” says professor Torres, referring to one of his main areas of research. When pursuing his undergraduate studies at the School of Engineering at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, he began participating in projects in this area that seemed very interesting to him and showed a significant growth potential. “That’s how I found my way into robotics and automation,” he says. Since 2011, the academic has worked on automatically controlling robotic arms mounted on mobile platforms. This initiative has direct applications in mining and agriculture.
Tunnels run the risk of cave-ins, so companies have begun to invest in automating the ore extraction with robotic machines. Professor Torres has recently focused on the development of physically accurate simulators that provide reliable numbers o n the behavior of mobile robotic manipulators, in order to enhance their design and control. “How much force do I need to pick up a rock and what is the best way to take hold of it?” poses Torres. He explains that this variable affects the design of more efficient remote-operated or autonomous machines, considering the interaction of the robot with the field, which is essential for a physically realistic simulation of this interaction. The professor has developed simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) algorithms and the automation of an industrial excavator. “The machine builds its own map, but to do this it must know where it is located,” he says. The development of this technology in mining could reduce the risk of accidents and health hazards for people, and in the case of agriculture, it will also help improve productivity,” says the academic. He adds that “not only does this project have an important component of cutting edge research, but it also has an important role in proving to the industry that this technology can be made in Chile.”
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FILM IS A COLLABORATIVE EFFORT
LORETO VALENZUELA ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Chemical Engineering and Bioprocesses Industrial Civil Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science in Engineering, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, United States
She does not like to work alone, she likes to collaborate. Her personality makes it easy for her to establish professional relationships, with both professors and students. She explicitly says that in chemical and bioprocess engineering, teaching is her passion. She is a fan of undergraduate research, “they have two years to make mistakes, because it doesn’t count yet.” So, when starting the thesis, “all of that initial energy is already invested.” For her, the hardest part is starting. More than the persistence required in the laboratory, where you keep perfecting the processes, accepting failures. Starting involves assembling a team of collaborators, defining the problem, making the experimental plan, developing protocols, choosing the software. A lot of people grow frustrated and abandon the projects.
it by using polymers, when natural regeneration is insufficient. The third project is more theoretical: the professor and her team use molecular modeling tools to understand the relationship between different molecules. She started with polymers, but she moved on to smaller molecules. It’s about active compounds and their relationship with the solvent extracted. This information is used to better understand processes of solubility and extraction of these compounds. Efforts in the biomedical project have been focused on teambuilding, multidisciplinary work. The team is now in place, the students are hard at work, building fabrication and characterization methods. They explore a process that uses voltages of up to 3000 volts to obtain polymer fibers in a controlled environment.
She pursues three distinct research areas, where the common thread is polymeric materials.
She works with professors José Manuel del Valle and Ricardo Pérez in modeling.
One project is the use of polymers in edible food coatings. She wants to improve product quality, increase shelf life and enhance their properties.
But the closest she has come to application is in the food project funded by the Copec-Universidad Católica Foundation. She works with professors Ricardo Pérez and Wendy Franco, looking for edible films based on natural ingredients. They expect to extend the shelf life of salmon by applying these films. “We are very close to proving it can be done,” she says.
The second, of a biomedical nature, uses polymers to achieve a final goal: tissue regeneration. This is achieved naturally, it’s true, but the professor wants to support
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FROM THE MATHEMATICS OF WAVES TO HEALTHCARE IMPROVEMENT ELWIN VAN ‘T WOUT ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Mathematical Computational Engineering Applied Mathematician, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands Master in Applied Mathematics, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Mathematics, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands
Many phenomena observed in scientific disciplines such as Engineering, Physics and Economics can be understood through mathematical models. The results of computer simulations are widely used by researchers to gain knowledge of and make predictions about a large variety of sciences. “If you develop a mathematical method for Aerospace Engineering, you can often apply it with a little additional effort to other engineering purposes, for example, in Medical or Maritime Engineering. This wide range of applications for similar mathematical techniques is what fascinates me about the discipline of Mathematical Engineering,” professor van ‘t Wout explains. The development of a mathematical theory to study wave propagation has always played an important role in the professor’s research. It had already started in 2008 when he designed a fast algorithm for the interaction of waves and ship movements for use in the real-time ship navigation simulator at the Maritime Research Institute Netherlands (MARIN). “In this project, we had to model the waves such that captains wouldn’t notice a difference from real waves out at sea. However, we also had to compute this quickly enough to achieve an immediate response from the actions in the simulator,” explains the professor regarding his tasks as an applied mathematician in interdisciplinary research. “We designed fast algorithms and implemented them to use all available computer power.” It was at University College London (UCL) in the United Kingdom where professor van ‘t Wout became acquainted with a new fascinating field of interest for his wave models: Medical Engineering. He joined
mechanical engineers in their effort to develop innovative devices for the treatment of liver cancer. Clinicians are eager to adopt non-invasive therapies to avoid the health risks of traditional surgery. Highintensity focused ultrasound treatment uses an array of sound transmitters to bundle energy in a diseased region and effectively burn cancer cells. Professor van ‘t Wout designed an algorithm to predict the propagation of sound waves into the body. “The liver is located inside of the ribcage, which poses another challenge. The ribs reflect the sound waves and prevent them from reaching the cancer cells. The configuration of the treatment device should ensure that the sound waves travel towards the cancer cells without burning the ribs or the liver. Of course, we cannot test these techniques on humans, so we have to rely on accurate computer simulations.” The wave models developed by the professor have already attracted the attention of clinicians who would like to use computer simulations for patient-specific planning of liver cancer treatment with focused ultrasound. It is one of the examples from the professor’s research where mathematics can have a surprisingly big impact on important societal challenges such as healthcare. However, as van ‘t Wout notes: “We still have to improve our mathematical techniques before we can use them in hospitals. I am part of a long chain of researchers: mathematicians, engineers, and clinicians. It takes a lot of effort to make an impact in healthcare through mathematics, but this journey leads to very interesting research and rewarding outcomes.”
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DEVELOPING TECHNOLOGY FOR LARGE TELESCOPES
LEONARDO VANZI ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Electrical Engineering Bachelor in Physics, Università degli Studi di Firenze, Italy Doctor of Philosophy, Università degli Studi di Firenze, Italy
Chile is a country with enormous potential in astronomy. Interested in contributing to the development of this discipline, professor Leonardo Vanzi works in the area of astronomical instrumentation. He says the country has always been host to telescopes, but has had no active participation in the construction and development of the technologies involved. The team lead by professor Vanzi at the Center of Astro Engineering UC is involved in the development of instruments, which range from small to huge all to be installed at telescopes located in Chile to allow the national and international community to obtain the best scientific results from the Chilean Skies. While the team is currently installing a high resolution spectrograph at the 1 meter telescope of the ESO observatory La Silla, it is also working on the most challenging astronomical projects of the future. On of them is called TARdYS, a collaboration with the University of Tokyo to design and build a spectrograph for the 6.5 meter telescope TAO. The largest Observatory in Chile at the moment is the ESO VLT at Cerro Paranal, the team lead by professor Vanzi is part of the international consortium which is building the multi object spectrograph MOONS to be installed at this observatory in 2019. Its mission is twofold: develop a system to accurately position a set of optical fibers in the telescope focus and develop the control software for the instrument. The instrument involves many parts and typically is not developed by a single group. The consortium consists of ten institutions with over a hundred people involved. Currently professor Vanzi, in collaboration
with professor Miguel Torres, is developing system prototypes. Looking at the future in the next decade Chile will welcome the largest telescopes in the world, giants eyes with mirrors up to 30 or even 40 meters in diameter. The Chilean astro- engineers are looking forward to contributing to these new challenges, in fact professor Vanzi is part of the study of an instrument for the European ELT together with colleagues from the most advanced institutes in Europe. The professor says that his work addresses a need in the astronomical community to perform certain types of observations. Their ultimate goal is to respond to scientific inquiries about the origin of the Universe. Parallel to this, professor Vanzi is also building a smaller spectrograph in both size and scope, compared to the MOONS, for a telescope in Northern Chile. “It’s one hundred percent made in Chile,” he highlights. “We worked for the past two years developing the idea and the design. We handled everything, from the mechanical design, optical design, manufacturing of components, and assembly of components in the lab.” “At AIUC we are aware that astronomy is a niche. Our aspiration is not to change the face of the country, but we do believe we can make a significant contribution to help Chile move away from an economy based exclusively on basic natural resources to an economy that includes technology made in Chile.” We are developing this tool within an area where Chile has a huge competitive advantage, which is why we have a strong commitment to the public and private sectors interested in research and innovation.
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WASTE: THE ENERGY OF THE FUTURE
IGNACIO VARGAS ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering Environmental Civil Engineering, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor of Science in Engineering, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Post-doctorate Fellow, Pennsylvania State University, United States
In nature, microorganisms are the main catalysts for the chemical reactions of transformation and mobility of contaminants. The study of microorganisms in the environment and their use in the development of energetically-sustainable treatment systems is one of the motivations of Ignacio Vargas, expert in environmental biotechnology. The extreme natural habitats of Northern Chile (i.e., high temperature, salinity, high concentrations of heavy metals) present an excellent opportunity to understand the biological processes that control the mobility of contaminants and to find microorganisms with new and special abilities. This line of research is particularly interesting for the study of microorganisms capable of withstanding these extreme environments and the exploration of strategies to use these capabilities in engineering systems to develop innovative treatment systems and sustainable cities. Reliance on fossil fuels is not sustainable over time and it is time to explore new energy sources. The Microbial Fuel Cell (MFC) is a new opportunity to generate clean
energy, using the metabolic activity of bacteria capable of transferring electrons outside of the cell. This type of technology can be used to develop wastewater treatment systems, bioremediation of sediments and more energy-efficient desalination processes. Ignacio Vargas’ MFC research group is currently developing various initiatives to improve knowledge in this field and find solutions to the country’s needs. The development of such systems could generate a tremendous impact on low-income communities and remote locations of the country, where there’s no electricity or treatment systems. “If you have a self-sufficient waste treatment system that works by taking the energy from itself, without adding external power, it would be a tremendous step forward in terms of savings for the energy matrix and access to sanitary technologies.” Ignacio Vargas, further projecting the impact of these studies, speaks of cities, and how the integration of constructed natural systems, such as green roofs, wetlands or flood parks could operate as treatment systems and energy sources.
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WITH MATHEMATICAL GRACE
JORGE VERA PROFESSOR Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering Mathematical Civil Engineer, Universidad de Chile Master of Science, Cornell University, United States Doctor of Philosophy, Cornell University, United States
“If you are a scientist and researcher, you also have to know how to communicate and teach about your research,” says professor Vera. “That is intrinsic to a university; otherwise, we would just be a research center.” His students comment on his passion for teaching. He gets excited with mathematics. “I’m a mathematical engineer,” he says when introducing himself. “Mathematics has an important grace: it is, in some sense, the top layer of knowledge. Those who understand mathematics well can make a difference. The same concepts used in one field can also be used in another.” He chose Operations Research as his field, where he applies and develops theory, “very important, absolutely necessary for what you’re doing, but it is not just about theory, the basic premise of the field is to help solve problems.” In one brushstroke, he exemplifies: operations planning in industry, investment decisions, products delivery, and healthcare management. He has worked developing increasingly complex optimization models. One of the important topics he has studied is the impact of uncertainty and variability in optimization models. He wants robust models, whose solutions can be computed using efficient algorithm and that do not change significantly under variations in the data. He says that the demands for these concepts are increasing: years ago we needed to control, for example, the truck fleet of a company in a day-by-day basis using an optimization model; today the requirement is to have minute by minute control, consider the uncertainties, and be able to re-optimize solutions quickly.
And what if the system conditions or data change? “Of course you can address many of these problems computationally, but I also want to know more fundamental things. This leads me to study more conceptual properties of the problems, even those that are connected with the geometry of optimization problems in the multidimensional spaces where these issues are analyzed.” He has also been investigating optimization approaches to planning problems in which decisions are made on different time horizons. Plans often fail because there is no room for flexibility or uncertainty. These situations happen in many areas: from industrial planning operations in the forest industry, where uncertainty comes from the natural origin of raw material, to the planning of hospital resources, where variation comes from the uncertainty of diseases. How to increase “intertemporal consistency” in these kinds of problems is a relevant issue both in practice as well from the point of view of the theory, he explains. He has focused on Optimization, he says, because that’s what interests him and it has a very important practical relevance. It also allows the development of “very interesting and quite sophisticated” theoretical and algorithmic issues. “Some of us who work on these issues have developed answers to practical problems, but we have also generated results in terms of mathematics, which is great, because you generate contributions on both sides: practical and conceptual knowledge, which fulfils my vocation as a researcher”.
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BUILDING ENGINEER AT THE SERVICE OF THE SUSTAINABLE BUILDINGS SERGIO VERA ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Construction Engineering and Management Civil Engineer, Master of Science, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor of Philosophy in Building Engineering, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada
What excites professor Vera is the design of sustainable buildings. He has focused his research in the field of Building Engineering. His research concerns the study of complex building envelopes, such as vegetated roofs and walls, outdoor solar protection systems and building-integrated photovoltaics, and how they impact the occupant’s thermal and visual comfort, the building energy efficiency and the urban air condition. Professor Vera takes part in R+D+i projects which main objective is to evaluate the performance of the complex building envelopes experimentally and modelling of the heat, mass and daylighting transmission through these complex envelopes. He also participates in monitoring existing buildings to assess how their envelopes behave and their impact on the indoor environmental quality.
Architecture, and faculties of Chemistry and Agronomy and Forestry Engineering. Therefore, the research carried out in the LIVE is broad, including topics such as the thermal, hydraulic and biophysical performance of vegetated roofs, the impact of vegetated roofs and walls on the energy consumption of industrial buildings, and the potential of vegetated walls and roofs to mitigate urban air pollution.
With the increasing use of vegetation in building roofs and walls, new challenges arise and the professor takes them on his own. The design and technology of vegetated walls and roofs come from rainy, humid and/ or cold weather, in contrast to the semi-arid climate of Central Chile. “These vegetated technologies require an architectural and engineering design that allows them to perform adequately in a climate with very low rainfall, high temperatures and solar radiation” explains professor Vera. To meet this challenge, he built the Laboratory of Vegetated Infrastructure of Buildings (Laboratorio de Infraestructura Vegetal de Edificios-LIVE), the first R+D+i laboratory of its kind in Latin America.
Professor Vera is also concern about the poor energy performance of modern buildings, which are characterized by fully glazed facades that cause high cooling energy consumption, even in wintertime. For this reason, he also focuses his research on designing and optimizing complex outdoor solar protection system, such as louvers, venetian blinds and mesh and metal screens. These systems can significantly contribute to control solar heat gains and daylighting. However, their optical and thermal properties are usually unknown as well as they thermal and lighting performance is difficult to be modelled. In consequence, the impacts of complex outdoor solar protection systems are not properly evaluated on early design stages of buildings, reducing their effectiveness to improve occupant’s visual comfort and building energy performance. To support research on complex outdoor solar protection systems, professor Vera and colleagues of the School of Architecture have developed the Laboratory of Complex Fenestration Systems that allows evaluating them under real climate conditions.
LIVE allows interdisciplinary research with the participation of researchers and students of the departments of Construction Engineering and Management, Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering, Chemical and Bioprocesses Engineering, School of
Vera is Associated Research of the Center for Sustainable Urban Development (CEDEUS) of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, and co-founder of the Section of Integral Engineering for Sustainable Construction at DICTUC.
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BIOFILMS: UNDERSTANDING “CITIES OF MICROORGANISMS” MARIO VERA ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Institute of Biological and Medical Engineering Department of Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering Engineer in Molecular Biotechnology, Universidad de Chile Doctor of Philosophy in Microbiology, Universidad de Chile
There is almost nowhere on the surface of the planet that is not colonized by microorganisms. Their most common lifestyle is the formation of biofilms. These are communities of microorganisms embedded in a selfproduced matrix of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS), which enables them to adhere to different types of surfaces, and even to float in liquid environments in floating mats. The process of biofilm formation starts with cell attachment and generation of EPS. These are complex mixtures generally composed of proteins, lipids and carbohydrates, along with DNA and other species-specific molecules. Within the EPS matrix, microorganisms physiologically and genetically adapt to this new lifestyle. Biofilms are involved in all of the biogeochemical cycles of the elements and are able to “feed” on a wide range of organic and inorganic compounds, as well as on elements such as hydrogen, sulfur and iron. The presence of biofilms, also referred to as “cities of microorganisms,” has different implications. Many persistent infections are caused by biofilms whose characteristics make bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Biofilms can also influence industrial water treatment processes, they can also cause “biofouling” and to accelerate the corrosion of various materials used in industry, including pipes for transporting fluids such as oil, or the propellers used in wind farms. Professor Vera has devoted the last 8 years of his research work outside of Chile to the study of biofilms of bioleaching microorganisms and of biocorrosion. “We want to manipulate biofilms. On the one hand, we want bacteria to increase their capacity to leach minerals containing copper, which leads to a reduction in the time used to recover the ore, thus making the process more efficient. And on the other, we wish to understand the physiology of mixed biofilms of different bioleaching species.”
In order to stimulate or inhibit the generation of biofilms, the professor believes it is essential to investigate the initial changes that happen when microorganisms attach themselves to a mineral and begin to establish a biofilm, a key point to consider when trying to manipulate them. “First, we need to understand how they work. We have studied the problem using different approaches such as confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM), epi-fluorescence microscopy (EFM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). We also use bioinformatic methods, leaching experiments with metals, and high resolution transcriptomics and proteomics.” Furthermore, a new area that the professor is beginning to develop is “EPSomics,” which involves researching the polymers secreted by such microorganisms when they form a biofilm, characterizing the biotechnological importance of some of these. These studies may be extended in the future to other medical/environmental biofilm models. Prior to his return to Chile in December 2015, professor Vera conducted an in-depth study of the behavior of bioleaching bacteria, first in France and then in Germany. “We were able to identify several molecular aspects of biofilm formation in bioleaching bacteria, and we have been pioneers in the use of advanced microscopy techniques to identify bacteria using non-destructive fluorescent-dye processes. In his latest research work, professor Vera has been optimizing non-destructive visualization methods to identify different leaching species and automated quantification of patterns of colonization of biofilms on metal sulfides. This will allow for the quantification of bacteria by capturing different densities of pixels and compiling statistics and colonization models for metal sulfides. His research has been recently funded by a regular Fondecyt project grant for 2016.
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JULIO VERGARA ADJUNCT ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Mechanical Engineering and Metallurgy Bachelor of Naval Science, Academia Politécnica Naval, Chile Naval Mechanical Engineer, Academia Politécnica Naval, Chile Master in Business Administration, Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez, Chile
Professor Vergara is at the pulse of changes in nuclear energy, which he says, is the basis of other forms of energy. He is attentive to technology and its developments, as well as its complexities in the face of public perception and political views that affect decision making. Despite the Fukushima accident in Japan, and also as a result thereof, the technology continues to evolve. “You have to know it, and size its industrial capacity,” says professor Vergara. Japan shut down its reactions and some countries have followed suit, thereby increasing greenhouse gas emissions. Sooner or later, it will have to be replaced.
Master of Science in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States
Professor Vergara’s students and the master’s program he directs serve as a channel for his constant attention to the issue.
Master of Science in Materials Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States
He knows that current nuclear reactors and their technology seem increasingly obsolete. He doesn’t see the industry moving towards a technological change, but “you can reverse the scale”: reducing the size lowers the investment risk and further enhances safety, which, despite the negative press, actually has the lowest mortality and morbidity rates.
Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States Doctor of Philosophy in Nuclear Materials Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States
The investment is increasing –exaggerated at time due to regulatory issues– and the economic feasibility of projects thus suffers. The investor must assess the likelihood that the completed project will not receive an operating license because of social pressures. With smaller, less expensive nuclear reactors, the risk is manageable, because “a large reactor that cannot be licensed for reasons beyond the company’s control can lead to bankruptcy.” He stresses that its conversion is clean and production costs low, contrary to fossil fuels and firewood, which emit greenhouse gases. He does not see shale gas in the long run, because its production is complicated. It needs to be fragmented and requires lots of water, which becomes contaminated and emits carbon. He believes it is necessary to invest in renewable energy, especially hydropower, but it’s main defect, the natural intermittency, has not yet been overcome. He is convinced by the progress that distinguishes the new reactors from the old ones. Most units today are second generation, while fifth generation concepts are currently under development, bordering the elusive and attractive nuclear fusion that emulates the processes of the sun.
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MATHEMATICAL MODELS AND ALGORITHMS APPLIED TO THE TECHNOLOGY SECTOR
The methodological development for problem solving is one of the main interests of academic José Verschae.
Verschae, who received his doctorate from the department of Mathematics at the Technical University of Berlin, is passionate about his discipline. His area of research is the analysis of algorithms for combinatorial optimization problems.
Faculty of Mathematics Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering
Mathematical Engineer, Universidad de Chile Dr. rer. nat. ,Technical University of Berlin, Germany
Professor Verschae has studied mathematical models and algorithms with applications for the technology sector, particularly for companies that need to store large amounts of data. “As computer firms start to grow, storing large amounts of data in ways that allow quick access along with safeguards in terms of preventing breakdowns in individual storage units becomes an increasingly challenging issue,” he says. “One way to maintain such a system at low cost is to use different sized storage units organized via a large number of servers. The heterogeneity of the storage units can mean that different servers have different capacities. Hence, the need to identify algorithms that allow us to distribute the storage units in a balanced fashion,” states the academic.
Verschae’s research is focused on balancing the capacity of servers via a mathematical model. Part of the difficulty is that this is a dynamic covering a period of time and storage units can of course fail. Therefore, solutions are sought that can adapt to changes undertaking local disturbances to the solution, in order to maintain a nearly optimal quality. This family of mathematical models can be used in different fields. “The abstract mathematical model can be applied to different areas such as scheduling problems in tasks where the aim is to balance the load of production lines in terms of efficiency,” he points out. “Studying these problems from a theoretical point of view helps us understand the underlying mathematical structure of the problem. This understanding in turn allows for the design of algorithms that can carry this mathematical development to an applied field,” he concludes.
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ADAPTING WATER RESOURCE MANAGEMENT TO CLIMATE CHANGE SEBASTIÁN VICUÑA ADJUNCT ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering Civil and Environmental Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master in Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, United States Master in Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, United States Doctor of Philosophy in Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, United States
The effects of climate change can be felt in various systems. One of the most affected sectors is water, generating impacts in terms of the availability or excess of this resource in different locations. Given this shifting physical context, questions arise as to how to prepare and adapt to these changes. Throughout his career, professor Vicuña has focused his research on this adaptation with respect to the different dimensions that affect water resources management. “Water and climate change are key issues at the local and global levels, and they require interdisciplinary qualifications and interests in order to develop diagnoses and solutions. In this regard, engineering must make its contribution within a framework where various disciplines converge.” This passion can be traced back to 2008 when professor Vicuña became the executive director of the UC Center for Global Change (CCG-UC), and has continued through early 2016 when he was elected director of the same body. The CCG-UC was set up in order to coordinate and identify synergies among various disciplines in the study of global change and climate change, involving the faculties of Engineering, Agriculture and Forestry Engineering, Economic and Administrative Sciences, Biological Sciences, and History, Geography and Political Science at the Universidad Católica. “As executive director I have had to manage important projects. For example, we worked with professors affiliated to the CCG-UC as well to other schools in the university like the School of Architecture on the proposal for a climate change national adaptation plan. It was a project that was highly multidisciplinary and which not only included the water issue, but also matters
such as coastal and city infrastructure and vulnerable ecosystems, among others.” However, the most important research undertaken by professor Vicuña is the Maipo Adaptation Plan (MAPA) project. This research initiative has received international funding from Canada and has been running for three years with the objective of coordinating the development of a climate variability and climate change plan for Maipo River basin. This basin is the main source of water for the Metropolitan Region in Central Chile; provides 70% of the current demand for drinking water and meets about 90% of the region’s irrigation needs. With the collaboration of public stakeholders from the Agriculture, Environmental, and Public Works ministries and private companies such as Aguas Andinas and Anglo-American plus local and international NGOs such as Chile Sustentable or TNC, “we identified future scenarios of climate change affecting the river basin and the sectors and users that may be affected by these scenarios, understanding for this purpose the vital issues of concern to each sector, such as the provision of drinking water or ensuring the profitability of farming activities. Drawing these factors together, and using hydrological simulation models for hydrology, water distribution and water conswumption and production, we were able to identify the expected impact of these scenarios.” The study concluded that adaptation within the basin is both necessary and feasible given the significant risks that are present. However, professor Vicuña explains, “we saw that a space was needed for decision-making at the institutional level in order to move to the stage to implement solutions that address those risks.”
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STRENGTHENING SMALL AND MEDIUM-SCALE MINING
ÁLVARO VIDELA ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Mining Engineering Industrial Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Doctor of Philosophy, Metallurgical Engineering, University of Utah, United States
Interested in driving innovation in the mining industry in Chile, professor Álvaro Videla works on developing a leach test to short columns with the goal of generating a protocol for small- and medium-scale mining operations to run feasibility studies of their leaching and bioleaching projects at costs well below those incurred today. “My sight is set on the medium-scale mining industry. If you create opportunities for them, they are potentially more audacious than a large-scale mining corporation in terms of taking risks and pushing innovation”.
to this problem or the development of a monitoring system, would significantly increase the leach process recovery. “We are at an early stage, but we believe that there is potential to increase the leach process recovery by at least 10 points.”
The professor explains how he carries out copper ore leach tests. This process exposes the rock surface to an oxidizing solution under conditions that cause the copper to change its state from solid to liquid, thereby obtaining copper. “The test is carried out in one-meter columns, where all variables are controlled. The results are scaled to anticipate what might happen in an industrial heap leach facility,” says Videla.
“We want to verify the results of ore extraction through a low-cost, non-invasive, non-destructive and reliable test at an early assessment stage of the project, to enable medium-scale mining to raise capital for project development.” His goal is to generate more entrepreneurs in this area.
Professor Videla works with professor Marcelo Andía from the School of Medicine to observe the evolution of ferric ion within the columns, using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Videla states that they meet regularly to determine how they could look inside these one-meter columns with more precision. “Through the production of ferric ion, we intend to observe the evolution of the bacteria that accelerate the leaching process.” The researchers have since considered addressing the definition of external conditions that lead to a more uniform bacteria distribution within the porous bed, so that the generation of ferric ion is catalyzed in the entire column and not just in some areas. The solution
They have used MRI imaging to observe and illuminate the ferric ion in a three dimensional image inside an opaque medium. They use algorithms developed by professor Marcelo Andía, which are applied during the exposure of the material in the MRI.
Today professor Videla is also focused on the area of purification and refining of elements. He works in manufacturing nano-copper particles from biosustainable processes. “It is an important challenge because it would open up tremendous opportunities for small copper producers in Chile. They could not only sell electro-refined copper cathodes, but also a much more refined product such as nanoscale powders at a very low cost.” And they are taking steps in this direction. “We created a clean laboratory with a lot of effort, where we have enough equipment to reach the hundred nanometer range of high purity. We will continue working to achieve the minimum possible size.”
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RESISTING ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION
MAGDALENA WALCZAK ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Mechanical and Metallurgy Engineering Master in Mechanical Engineering, Technical University of Wroclaw, Poland Researcher Surface and Interface of Advanced Materials, Max Planck Institute of Iron Research, Düsseldorf, Germany Dr.-Ing., Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany Laboratory Head in the Surface Research Centre, ThyssenKrupp AG, Dortmund, Germany
Structures are designed to solve engineering problems, but the solution might turn into a problem itself when the materials selected for building the structure change their properties with time. This degradation through corrosion and wear is practically inevitable but, as professor Walczak says, “it is a problem only if you have a solution”. Her toolbox of answering the challenge includes understanding the underlying processes and using the knowledge for minimizing materials degradation through smart design when thinkable, modification of operational parameters when possible and protecting materials with coatings when necessary. “Corrosion and wear are to materials what emotional fatigue during a marathon run would be to a human” reflects professor Walczak and continues “when we suspect such a problem to be the case we can avoid the collapse and still complete the marathon of service life”. With this motivation she has been developing numerical models of erosion-corrosion that allow predicting the
rate of alloy degradation when exposed to abrasive flow. This is the case in pipelines transporting slurries such mine tailings. The same model is applicable for predicting the performance of underwater turbines that one day might provide electricity to the grid in Chile. Although the models are very useful, professor Walczak admits to get tired of them now and then. “I have this urge of going to the lab and doing something real”, which in her case is researching for surface protection through coatings. The habit lasts since her doctorate dedicated to the synthesis of a self-repairing coatings that would detect when corrosion of a steel alloy starts and then release a corrosion inhibitor smartly stored in nanocapsules. This novel coating almost when into industrial trial when the opportunity of leaving Germany for Chile got her. “I am so happy to have accepted and I hope to keep pushing the limit of possible in preventing materials degradation for the engineering structures to be ever more reliable”.
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INTEGRAL MODELING OF RENEWABLE ENERGIES AND POLICIES FOR THEIR INTEGRATION
DAVID WATTS ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Department of Electrical Engineering Industrial Engineer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Master of Science and Master of Arts, University of WisconsinMadison, United States Doctor of Philosophy, University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States
With a desire to influence public policies on energy and distributed generation, professor David Watts has specialized in electrical engineering and economics applied to operations, planning and regulation of electrical systems. Through his research and consultancies, he has worked with governments and companies related to this field. During his doctorate in the United States, he began to study wind energy and its integration. On his return to Chile, he became involved in the renewable electricity market. In one of his consulting jobs, during a bid for energy supply of a large power generation company, “We studied nearly one hundred renewable projects, modeling several of them technically, from the resource and its technology to their production and integration to the power grid.” From this research, he studied all the lower-risk alternatives and the development of portfolios. Several solar power projects emerged out of this. “Four years ago nobody thought anyone could commercially develop solar energy,” he says. Professor Watts leads a team of more than a dozen graduate students and professionals who develop proposals on matters of Net Metering and Net Billing, flexible pricing, smart metering, cogeneration, gas,
and distributed generation. He also encourages undergraduates to pursue these issues. “Students are greatly motivated to participate in projects that contribute to the development of public policy in the country and I love to inspire them along this path,” says the professor. “Our development goes hand in hand with renewable energy, with a major emphasis on solar development and cogeneration, but unlike other groups, we complement the technical analysis with the laws, regulations and standards to integrate renewable energy,” Watts points out. He and his team developed a standardized model, simplified and segmented to facilitate the connection of residential and industrial generators. “We developed our own tools for modeling solar and wind resources, technical, commercial and optimization modeling, which we validated and compared with commercial tools.” Today, professor Watts collaborates on various legislative bill proposals, regulations and standards for the Ministry of Energy. “Our team has a significant influence on the development of public policies, which have removed the barriers for non-conventional renewable energy.”
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OBSERVATION TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH
GONZALO YÁÑEZ ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Structural and Geotechnical Engineering Master of Science in Geophysics, Universidad de Chile Master of Science, Columbia University, United States Doctor of Philosophy, Columbia University, United States
Professor Yáñez has specialized in geophysics for the past 30 years. He is joined by two geologists as members of the Geoscience Group of the Universidad Católica’s School of Engineering, formed in 2010 to address geological hazards, natural resources and energy, specifically geothermal energy. The professor uses instrumentation for determining the physical properties of the interior of the earth. The signal that originates or is propagated from inside the earth explains a number of natural phenomena and distribution of geological resources. For example, it explains when, how, where and what size major earthquakes will be; where mineral or water resources are located; or how foundation soil will behave, among other phenomena. The instruments of his discipline are like the eyes, ears and hands to recognize the interior of the earth on spatial scales of a few meters to hundreds of kilometers. From the perspective of geological hazards, professor Yáñez leads a project on earthquake hazards in Northern
Chile, which ranges from geosciences to structural engineering, with the goal of providing a tool for public use that allows better decision making and better preparation of the population and infrastructure. This project is developed in Northern Chile because the existing scientific knowledge and historical seismic records indicate that the next major earthquake will occur in this area in the coming decades. Consequently, this project aims to incorporate preventive tools that will establish construction parameters appropriate to the characteristics of each location. The great methodological goal is to integrate knowledge of geosciences and structural engineering into a single project and consolidate it in a public domain GIS platform. This platform will be displayed on a map of the riskiest areas, where stricter construction rules should apply. It is an unprecedented platform in Chile, which after completing its pilot phase in Northern Chile, should be expanded to the rest of the country.
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ESTABLISHING NEW SPACES FOR INNOVATION
STEPHEN ZHANG ASSISTANT PROFESSOR
There are not enough researchers like Stephen Zhang in Chile, experts on managing innovation and entrepreneurship. The professor says that one of the main challenges is to multiply action.
Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering
Before joining academia, Stephen Zhang was an engineer, a management consultant and a designer of technological innovation.
Bachelor of Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
He came from Singapore to the School of Engineering at Universidad Católica to promote innovation from within, encourage new initiatives and new academic programs and to involve the largest number of students possible in a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.
Doctor of Philosophy, National University of Singapore
His influence extends from the School of Engineering to the rest of the University, through the Certificate of Innovation, which he leads. It is a multidisciplinary program in which he teaches students methodologies to develop innovations with global impact and increase the likelihood of success of their ventures. In addition, Stephen is a member of Innovation Factory, the University’s think-tank focused on entrepreneurship and innovation. He also leads Aukan, an area of innovation at DICTUC, where he focuses on advising businesses on innovation strategies.
In the field of research, his main line of work is how to make decisions and manage innovation and entrepreneurship actions in environments marked by constant evolution and uncertainty. Such uncertainties must be handled differently than those in the field of finance. In the field of entrepreneurship, perceptions and behaviors of entrepreneurs and innovators come into play. How to manage uncertainty? Organizations are transforming and technology is advancing rapidly. Professor Zhang’s studies propose the component of flexibility, effectuation, ‘heuristics and biases’ and ‘exploration and exploitation’ as major weapons to counterbalance the lack of information on strategic decisions. This is demonstrated again and again in chilean companies, through his intervention from Aukan. His research also addresses the problem from a broader perspective: the design of organizations and organizational structures prepared to innovate, and manage change and uncertainty.
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2030 Engineering Strategy: Is a joint strategy between Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María. This Consortium will turn our engineering schools in world-class institutions, becoming global, reaching academic excellence, and achieving international recognition in the realm of the top engineering universities in the world. AIUC (Centro de Astro-Ingeniería de la Universidad Católica – Universidad Católica Astro-Engineering Center): The mission of this center is to serve as a channel for cutting-edge research and to generate new technological and computational opportunities in the field of astronomy and engineering. Anillos de Investigación en Ciencia y Tecnología (Science and Technology Research Rings): This is one of the instruments of the Research Partnership Program (PIA) of the National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research (CONICYT), which seeks to promote the scientific and technological development of the country, through the funding of research projects supported by collaborative, comprehensive and multidisciplinary work. CEDEUS (Centro de Desarrollo Urbano Sustentable – Center for Sustainable Urban Development): The aim of this unit is to promote learning and knowledge transfer; generate a new mass of high-level researchers in Chile; and produce ideas on critical issues of sustainable urban development, as well as policy recommendations that could provide solutions. Co-led by UC Engineering. CEGA (Centro de Excelencia de Geotermia de los Andes – Andean Geothermal Center of Excellence): A body dedicated to improving and increasing scientific knowledge about geothermal energy in Chile. With participation of UC Engineering, together with other institutions.
CIGIDEN (Centro Nacional de Investigación para la Gestión Integrada de Desastres Naturales - National Research Center for Integrated Natural Disaster Management): The aim of this institution is to contribute to the mitigation of sociological, psychological, physical and economic impacts generated by natural disasters, taking advantage of the fact that Chile is one of the most important natural laboratories in the world where in-depth studies of such phenomena can be undertaken. Led by UC Engineering. CIIV (Centro de Ingeniería e Investigación Vial - Center for Road Engineering and Research): This unit forms part of DICTUC S.A., and is dedicated to the study and scientific and technological research of areas related to road infrastructure, with particular emphasis placed on pavements. CONICYT (Comisión Nacional de Investigación Científica y Tecnológica - National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research): An agency under the Ministry of Education, with two strategic pillars: promoting the formation of human capital, and strengthening the scientific and technological foundations of the country through scholarships and various funds such as FONDAP, FONDEF, FONDECYT, along with other funding initiatives. CORFO (Corporación de Fomento de la Producción – Production Development Corporation): A Chilean government agency with the mission to improve the country’s competitiveness and diversification by encouraging investment, innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as strengthening human capital and the technological capacity to obtain sustainable and territorially-balanced development. One of its funding programs is INNOVA - CORFO. DICTUC S.A.: An affiliate of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (UC), dedicated to the transfer of
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the knowledge and technology generated by the UC School of Engineering, so as to place it at the service of the community, through individual or multidisciplinary services. FONDAP – CONICYT (Fondo de Financiamiento de Centros de Investigación en Áreas Prioritarias Financing Fund for Research Centers in Priority Areas): The aim of this body is to coordinate the activity of groups of researchers who have proven productivity in areas of knowledge that are important for the country, and where national basic science has reached a high level of development. FONDAP has funded scientific research centers of excellence such as the National Research Center for Integrated Natural Disaster Management (CIGIGEN) and the Center for Sustainable Urban Development (CEDEUS). FONDECYT – CONICYT (Fondo Nacional de Desarrollo Científico y Tecnológico - National Fund for Scientific and Technological Development): The aim of this body is to encourage and promote the development of basic scientific and technological research; it is the main fund of its kind in Chile. It finances regular projects by experienced researchers; initiating research projects aimed at young researchers, and postdoctoral projects. FONDEF – CONICYT (Fondo de Fomento al Desarrollo Científico y Tecnológico - Scientific and Technological Development Support Fund): The purpose of this initiative is to help increase the competitiveness of the national economy and improve the standard of living of the country’s inhabitants. This is done through the promotion of linkages between research institutions, companies and other entities that undertake applied research and technological development projects, deemed important for the production sector and geared towards public interest.
FONDEQUIP (Fondo de Equipamiento Científico y Tecnológico - Scientific and Technological Equipment Fund): A CONICYT program that provides funding through a competitive selection system for the acquisition, updating and/or access to medium- and high-level scientific and technological equipment for research activities; also allowing for access to such equipment at international level. GEPUC (Centro de Excelencia en Gestión de Producción de la Universidad Católica - Center of Excellence in Production Management of the Universidad Católica): The aim of this center is to develop, implement and disseminate knowledge regarding management and production technologies in the main economic areas of the country. Led by the UC Department of Engineering and Construction Management. Iniciativa Científica Milenio (Millennium Science Initiative): A government body under the Ministry of Economy, Development and Tourism (Minecon). The main objective of which is to promote the development of cutting-edge scientific and technological research in the country. LIVE (Laboratorio de Infraestructura Vegetal de Edificios - Laboratory of Plant Infrastructure for Buildings): The aim of this body is to develop research, development and innovation in technologies for green roofs and walls for buildings. It is the first R&D+i laboratory of its kind in Latin America. Led by UC Engineering.
La Escuela de Ingeniería de la Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile presenta la tercera edición del libro Research@engineering.uc.cl que...