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InSight: Q&A with Hernรกn Aguirre p.2

Artificial Intelligence: Nature inspired networks | p.4


A new alternative for shrimp waste p.6


Charlotte represents Ecuador in Spinway 2016 | p.8

003 Oct. 2016

Photography credits: Ministry of Tourism

Yachay Tech and Charles Darwin Foundation: together for science and excellence in Ecuador p.9

news letter

INSIDE SCIENCE: The human side of science

InSight: Q&A with Hernán Aguirre, Ph.D. Expert in Evolutionary Computation By María Caridad Bermeo


ernan Aguirre has spent 20 years in Japan. When he left his native Ecuador, he hoped to return in the near future. However, he devoted his life to research in an unexplored field of science: evolutionary computation, something he had never thought about doing in Ecuador. Now he hopes to finally be able to collaborate in our country. Hernán answered some questions related to his field of research and shared his vision on the progress of applied sciences in the country.

Yachay Tech (YT): What is evolutionary computation? Hernán Aguirre (HA): basically, what it does is to mimic the natural evolution processes to solve engineering problems. Out of all of the problems that can be

solved with this type of system, I focus on Optimization Problems: distributing limited resources in the best way possible in any process, or finding solutions that propose a better use of those resources.

YT: what can it be applied in? HA: Optimization problems occur because there is a limit for resources. By resources, we can refer to both, economic resources or temporary resources, or any other factor involved in the proper conclusion of a process. We apply it in industry for the optimization of industrial designs and production processes. This can also include systems that have a high social impact, such as water distribution systems, for instance. We also work with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), in aerospace design optimization. Additionally, we do it by

prioritizing criteria for the classification of solutions according to the needs of the process.

YT: How is it related to Darwin’s evolutionary principle? HA: The adaptability of living beings to an environment is conditioned by their expressed genes. In the first generation, beings with better features had a greater chance to survive and subsequently, to reproduce, which leaves us with a second generation that will do the same. Evolutionary computation simulates these processes. Each solution to a problem has specific characteristics that are comparable to those expressed genes. This happens because there are many solutions to one problem, so we have the chance to choose the best, to use its features to propose a

Biography: Hernan Aguirre has written 4 books and over 120 publications. He is a Systems Engineer, EPN. He worked in the private sector in the United States and El Salvador, and taught at the National Polytechnic School, PUCE and Shinshu University, in Japan. He has collaborated with Ecuador, France, and Slovenia. He has received 8 awards for best publication in Spain, Japan, Ireland, and Canada. Aside from the countries aforementioned, he has also lectured in France, Malaysia, Italy, among others. He is an academic authority in research of Evolutionary Computation and optimization techniques.


INSIDE SCIENCE: The human side of science

new generation of solutions to general problems, and to imitate the evolutionary process.

YT: How is the science, technology and innovation field in Ecuador? HA: There is a great difference between technological innovation and scientific innovation. Technological innovation is designing applications with knowledge that was produced long ago, like Facebook. Science is dedicated to creating knowledge that we did not have before. That is the goal of scientific innovation. I think there are efforts in Ecuador, but in a general context, what we still lack is the creation of knowledge. This is an economic priority as any other and it has certain stages. For example, amateur soccer players can have as much talent as professional players in a league, but professional players are required to form a national team because they are dedicated to it full-time. In Ecuador, the setting is starting to rise, but it still needs a little more of general efforts, especially in the training of science professionals. There are still very few doctoral programs. In addition, Ecuadorian institutions in general do not consider scientific innovation as a way to solve their problems. That’s something we’re just starting, and I’m happy, but we still have a long way to go.

YT: What do you think of a project like Yachay Tech in a country like Ecuador? HA: The effort is obviously good. I really like the idea. I still think that the project

has little information for people like me. The problem is that the project has gained a political connotation and it has become a bit restricted, in my opinion. I had a conversation with Andreas Griewank [current Dean of Mathematics and Information Technology at Yachay Tech] a while ago and my opinion is that all these efforts are laudable and have a good initiative. Personally, I would have emphasized more on graduate programs at first, and left undergraduate programs to evolve with time. The biggest problem I see for most research professionals is that they look for human talent to do research, which is usually graduate students. Yachay Tech won’t have that for a while*. Reaching these positions takes time because it requires research teams and Yachay Tech won’t have that for now. However, I see the project with very good eyes, I hope they can continue with all its efforts and research dissemination so we can see the results when it is finally established.

YT: What’s the way to apply scientific innovation in technological innovation? HA: Technological innovation always has its risks. You never know what the ultimate impact of technological innovation will be. Therefore, science always moves faster than technological applications. The key is having lines of research that are tailored to the needs of the world, producing scientific knowledge, promoting the creation of technology companies and nurturing them until results are obtained. This is not a short process. Basically, the state should be responsible for investing in scientific innovation, that’s the way it works worldwide. It should be done through

universities and research institutions. Then it has to encourage the creation of technological companies, which is a stage yet to be reached in Ecuador. I think it’s a mistake to think that the application of science and technology innovation occur immediately after scientific innovation. These processes always take more than a couple of years.

* During this conversations, we informed Hernán that Yachay Tech is close to offering its first Ph.D. programs, specifically in geosciences. We expect to have the first Ph.D. students early in 2017.

“science always moves faster than technological applications. The key is having lines of research that are tailored to the needs of the world, producing scientific knowledge, promoting the creation of technology companies and nurturing them until results are obtained”

- by Yachay Tech


YT SCIENCE: Divulgation of our science

Artificial Intelligence: Nature inspired networks By María Caridad Bermeo


enito Jerónimo Feijoo, a spanish science popularizer, who lived between the XV and XVI century, once said “there is not any knowledge among men, which is not mediately or immediately deduced by experience”, reality and nature are the objects and models which science studies. Nowadays, there is also Artificial Intelligence (A.I), an area of computer science where machines have the ability to think and mimic other “cognitive” functions of humans. Esteban Palomo, Ph.D, faculty member at the School of Mathematical Sciences and Information Technology at Yachay Tech, works in the improvement of artificial self-organized neural networks, or the networks which allow the clustering of data. Similar like our own brain, these networks store and group

data by following patterns and, at the same time, promote a competition among its “neurons”. The overall goal of Esteban’s research is to create improvements to the neural models which already exist. A.I is divided in two great research fields: The Symbolic field, dedicated to the development of more classical mathematical models, and the Subsymbolic or Bioinspired field, dedicated to the development of intelligent systems inspired by nature with the objective of analyzing real data and scavern patterns. In this case, Artificial Neural Networks, a study of the subsymbolic field, are characterized by their apprenticeship capacity. Some require supervision on

Human neural networks are the models on which Artificial Neural Networks are based


that apprenticeship, with the introduction of previously tagged data. For example, Supervised Neural Networks can receive data about people who suffer from cancer, and people who don’t. When introducing data about new people, the network can predict if they will suffer from cancer or not based on the previously introduced data. On the contrary, there are also Not Supervised Neural Networks. These selforganized networks, pursue the classification and clustering of data. When an excessively wide quantity of data has to be analyzed, the assignment of a Selforganized Neural Network is to scavenge for patterns of that data, clustering the information and constructing something which looks like a net. Imagine that on this “net” every “neuron” represents a data cluster. Commonly known as Data Mining, this process has the objective of gathering information, patterns, relations and relevant structures from data. This type of network has become a popular research subject of research due to various reasons. The first one is that, nowadays, we produce a quantity of information that is humanly impossible to tag or classify. For example, it is impossible to classify the excessive amount of web pages that exist now, so a Not Supervised Neural Network can scavenge, for example, web pages that relate gastronomy related topics, later clustering them according to different indicators using the closest “neuron”. The other reason is that this process has a huge amount of industrial and commercial applications. For example, it can give useful information about what certain publics buy on the internet in order to have a better focalization of the audience of a product or service.

YT CIENCE: Divulgation of our science

Growing Neural Forest or GNF, a model that improved the GNG. Furthermore, GNF creates an aggregate of GNGs, which have been transformed from graphs to trees. Therefore, the flexibility and its adaptability to entry data increased: It gives the network more capacity of data selection and recognition.

Neural Networks are deployed as information data bases

This is how selforganized neural networks create connections and self-adapt to the distribution of the entrance data, without any conduct. On most of the occasions, this data has multiple dimensions. This means that every piece of data contains many characteristics, which make the process even more complex. Luckily, through research and science, we now have more clarity on how to continue to improve these systems.

Later on, an improved version was born: the Growing Neural Gas or commonly known as GNG. This network surpasses the limitation problems of the Selforganized map through the the automatic growth of the network. By having a flexible topology, based on graphs, the GNG can adapt itself to every form. But this network can also be susceptible to improvement. This is why Esteban Palomo, along with Ezequiel López Rubio from Malaga University, created the

But the GNF is not the only improved version of GNG created by this team. The Growing Neural Hierarchical Gas or GNHG consists on a tree of GNG’s with an improved algorithm. This new network allows the hierarchical classification of data. For example, instead of just clustering all gastronomy web pages, it has the capacity of subdividing them on minor clusters. For example, author cuisine, country’s cuisine and fusion cuisine; and then even minor clusters, like italian cuisine, spanish cuisine, french cuisine, among others, on the “country’s cuisine” cluster. This two improvements imply a lot in practical terms, given that they provide new forms of clustering data on different, and more detailed, levels. Esteban will continue to work on his research at Yachay Tech hoping to quickly apply his knowledge of data mining and neural networks here in Ecuador.

Nowadays, we produce a quantity of information that is humanly impossible to tag or classify. The first, and most important, selforganized network was the Selforganized Map, created by Teuvo Kohonen: a not supervised network with the purpose of promoting competition and self-clustering among neurons to better represent information. However, this map presented some problems, for example, in order to form the right network, or the predictions regarding the amount of data clusters which had to be made, or the fact that the exact number of neurons needed to classify the information had to be specified to start the network trainment. Also, another problem, was the map needed to classify the networks, as it was a steady topology, commonly a grid.

Neural Networks allow information to work in favor to society

YT IN ECUADOR: academia+environment+influence

From Great Industry to Sustainable Industry By María Caridad Bermeo

Chitosan Chemical Composition

A new alternative for shrimp waste


ccording to figures from the National Chamber of Aquaculture, shrimp is the second non-oil product exported from the country, reaching up to 480,000 tons per year (2015) and representing 16.6% of national exports1. Here at Yachay Tech we have asked ourselves, where is this waste and what have we done with it? Waste from the shrimp industry consists mainly of wastewater and solid waste such as shrimp heads and shells. There have been different proposals to manage this waste, such as disinfecting wastewater, exporting it or selling it to third parties to produce shrimp shell flour. But there is a possibility of added value to this waste. Juan Lobos, Ph.D., faculty member of Physics at Yachay Tech, has started a project to create a chitin extraction plant. Chitin is a polymer found in shellfish. But what does the Polymer mean? A polymer is a large molecule made up of a large number of simpler molecules called monomers. In shrimp chitin represents around 35%


of the composition in these shells, which is what gives exoskeletons the possibility to protect insects and crustaceans. But chitin is not important only because of that, but because of the incredible amount of opportunities that it has to be used in the industry. One of its derivatives that is used the most is Chitosan. Why is all this is important? Chitosan is a biodegradable chemical material that can be applied both to improve the quality of what we eat and to save lives. Chitosan has the ability to create protective films and attract light as a greenhouse. It is also an antiseptic and fertilizer as it is biodegradable. Its application is crucial in agriculture due to its antifungal and antibacterial activity. Its excellent filmforming ability and the fact that it produces no pollutants makes it biocompatible and nontoxic. Therefore, it can be the solution to many of the current problems in the application of reagents that may be somewhat toxic for crops. In a nutshell, in terms of agricultural production, chitosan has the ability to be a fungicide, a pesticide

and a biodegradable fertilizer that can boost production development without jeopardizing food safety because of toxic substances. In medicine, it can serve as a complement to bandages and improve antiseptic emergency processes. It may also be the main component of a bioplastic to be used in the production of greenhouses2 y en la siembra en general. Lo que hace al Quitosano tan versátil y útil es su capacidad de solubilidad, al contrario de la Quitina, que contribuye a simplificar su conjugación con otro tipo de materiales3. How to extract chitin and chitosan? This requires three steps: Demineralization: removing the inorganic matter inherent in crustacean shells; Deproteinization: separating the protein found in these parts; and Discoloration: separating the lipid pigments of the material. Once the process has concluded, the material to be obtained will look like small plastic shells that are very thin and soft, but insoluble. To obtain Chitosan, it is necessary to subject Chitin to a deacetylation process, meaning that acetyl groups are removed from its composition.

YT IN ECUADOR: academia+environment+influence

An acetyl is a set of atoms bonded to a carbon chain that presents characteristics of being vinegary, simply put. The cost of this process is lower compared to the benefits that it can have in agricultural production and medicine4.

Chitosan is a biodegradable chemical material that can be applied both to improve the quality of what we eat and to save lives.

Chitosan fibre, SEM image

For Juan Lobos, it’s about having a situation and wanting to change it. You only need to invest in technical knowledge to make the most of the resources in the country in the smartest and most sustainable manner. The problem is that a project like this requires money, interest and cooperation from the national shrimp industry, which Lobos expects to receive soon. Some of Yachay Tech students will also take part in this project and will have the opportunity to learn more about these processes while looking to improve the future of the industry in their country.

1. Sitio web de la Cámara Nacional de Acuacultra. 2015

Chitosan Solution under fragmented light

2. Godoy Arias, D., Andres, F., & Cedeño, R. (2009). Análisis de películas con protección uv. 3. Lárez-Velásquez, C., & Velasquez, C. L. (2006). Quitina y quitosano: materiales del pasado para el presente y el futuro. Avances en química, 1(2), 15-21. 4. Estrada, L., & Del Carmen, Y. (2012). Obtención de quitosano a partir de quitina para su empleo en conservación de frutillas y moras.

Chitosan is produced from the industrial remains of shrimp skin - by Yachay Tech


YT & THE COMMUNITY: promoting development

Charlotte represents Ecuador in Spinway 2016 Ecological low-cost construction materials By María Caridad Bermeo Charlotte Berrezueta


harlotte Berrezueta, a fifth-semester student at Yachay Tech University, will participate in The Spin Way, the biggest entrepreneurship university event that gathers students from all of the countries from the Ibero-American region, where they can develop entrepreneurship with the support of leaders from the private, academic and public sector. The event is organized by Tecnológico de Monterrey, RedEmprendia Uninova, and Santiago de Compostela University. Additionally, it is supported by the Cotec Foundation and Santander Bank. This year, Charlotte was the only Ecuadorian entrepreneur that was selected amongst over 300 students. The project that Charlotte will develop during the event proposes the creation of ecological low-cost construction materials

using solid waste like plastic, cardboard, and Styrofoam. The objective is to take advantage of the features of each of these products to create materials. For instance shredding and melting plastic is useful to create resistant construction blocks; cardboard and paper can be mixed with materials like clay to create greatly resistant bricks. Styrofoam, also known as expanded polystyrene, could be used in the construction sector and to create containers. Charlotte chose this project because according to World Wildlife Fund data, five thousand tons of solid waste are produced in Santa Cruz Island, Galápagos. Burying waste underground is very difficult due to the volcanic origin of the islands and because it does not have a large topsoil

Charlotte next to the other 14 young entrepreneurs selected to participate on SpinWay


strip. This problem affects the preservation of such fragile and unique ecosystem like the one that Galapagos has. With the implementation of the recycling program that began in 2006, it has been possible to classify solid waste exceeding 1.6 million kg; sorting waste into categories. The materials for Charlotte’s project fit this proposal that is already in execution.

The project that Charlotte will develop during the event proposes the creation of ecological low-cost construction materials using solid waste like plastic, cardboard, and Styrofoam.

YT & THE COMMUNITY: promoting development

Yachay Tech and Charles Darwin Foundation: together for science and excellence in Ecuador By MarĂ­a Caridad Bermeo


atherine Rigsby, Chancellor at Yachay Tech University; Paul Baker, Dean of the School of Geological Sciences and Engineering; Edwin Cadena, faculty member; and Arturo Izurieta, Executive Director of the Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands, met at the research Station in Puerto Ayora on September 15 to sign an agreement to promote education and research for the conservation of biodiversity, geological research in the Galapagos and the creation of joint Ph.D. programs. Currently, both institutions are developing specific agreements to work on over the next 5 years. One of these agreements, in collaboration with the Archaeological

Museum of Argentina and Germany, aims to conduct research on the Galapagos giant tortoises. Some of the features to be investigated are how tortoises grow, what sets them apart, the proteins in their bones and why they live that long. The added value of this research lies on the analysis at the molecular level, in which Edwin Cadena is an expert.

studies, mainly in volcanology, biodiversity, and oceanic geology.

Another role played by Yachay Tech in this agreement is to oversight research standards in the Galapagos. Also, to establish specific agreements in the future related to the training of students and the use of facilities for research on the islands. Additionally, Cadena claims that there will be more Geology projects and more specialized

Goals:to promote education and research for the conservation of biodiversity, geological research in the Galapagos and the creation of joint Ph.D. programs.

Arturo Izurieta said the investigation conducted under this agreement will reflect the scientific capacity and quality of Ecuador and will have a local, national and international impact.

Catherine Rigsby, Ph.D, Chancellor at Yachay Tech and Arturo Izurieta, Executive Director of the C.D. Fundation - by Yachay Tech


Mรกs informaciรณn: Direcciรณn de Comunicaciรณn 06 299 9130 Ext. 2607

Why Newletter 003 | oct 2016 | ing  
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