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FIU’s Robotics Academy Gains National Recognition for Construction Industry Virtual and Augmented Reality Training Tools

FIU’s Robotics Academy has won a Dynamite Award in the “Incubator” category from the American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council.

The national honor recognizes the Robotics Academy – the work of College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts (CARTA) architecture professor Shahin Vassigh and an interdisciplinary team of researchers from FIU –for an innovation that is “not yet in production with the greatest potential.” Other winners included Google, Adobe, the Department of Defense and the Department of Health and Human Services.

“I am extremely proud that our FIU School of Architecture’s Robotics Academy was the only university to receive an ACT-IAC Dynamite Award. Being selected for the Incubator Award is a testament to our faculty’s commitment to our students’ success and to the communities we serve,” said CARTA Dean Brian Schriner.

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Researchers from the College of Communication, Architecture, + The Arts (CARTA) and the College of Engineering & Computing (CEC) collaborated to launch the academy to create personalized experiences to train and support building industry workers, professionals, business owners, entrepreneurs, educators and policymakers. The Robotics Academy is providing solutions for an industry that currently has minimal tools to provide hands-on learning experiences for the future of this workforce sector. At the Igniting Innovation 2020 Conference, FIU was one of two honorees selected for the potential their innovations have to enhance services to citizens or government operations.

Powered by a $1 million National Science Foundation grant, the Robotics Academy offers training focused on robotics and automation technologies using artificial intelligence (AI), immersive technologies (virtual and mixed reality) and big data analytics.

The Robotics Academy consists of immersive learning, an innovation network and an automation marketplace. It makes use of the resources housed in the Robotics and Digital Fabrication Lab, a joint effort of CARTA and CEC created with funding from FIU’s technology fee program.

“Addressing the training and education needs of workers impacted by these technologies is essential in mitigating the transition to a more automated economy,” said Vassingh, who also is the Robotics Academy’s principal investigator. “The academy is designed to prepare the building industry workforce by becoming the leading source for acquiring new skills to work with and alongside intelligent machines.”

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The College of Engineering and Computing provided software engineering, robotics, virtual and augmented reality, AI and construction expertise to the project. Faculty and students from the college’s School of Computing and Information Sciences (SCIS) helped build the virtual reality learning platform used to teach robotics. The team, which included collaboration from the Moss Department of Construction Management, also helped enhance the platform by improving its learning environment in real-time and enhancing search drivers of its knowledge repository.

“The CEC team is honored by this recognition and very proud of the contributions it made to the Robotics Academy. Our combined expertise in robotics, machine learning, AI and agile software development allowed us to collaborate in all areas of this extraordinary project,” said Seyed-Masoud Sadjadi, associate professor of computer science. “This award is a testament to the power of teamwork and what can be accomplished when multi-disciplinary teams work together for the greater good.”

The co-principal investigators are Shu-Ching Chen, Masoud Sadjadi, Leonardo Bobadilla from SCIS and Rocio Benabentos from the STEM Transformation Institute.

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