June 7, 2022

Purdue University, Purdue Polytechnic Institute and Purdue University Global collaborating on partnership with the University of Puerto Rico

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Collaboration among Purdue University, Purdue Polytechnic Institute and Purdue University Global is leading the way to a unique partnership with the University of Puerto Rico.

A Purdue delegation of administrators, faculty and students visited Puerto Rico in March to meet with representatives and students from four University of Puerto Rico (UPR) campuses – Bayamón, Humacao, Mayaguez and Rio Piedras – as well as the Center for Marine Science at UPR-Mayaguez and the University of Puerto Rico Hospital.

“The entire Purdue system is pleased to partner with the University of Puerto Rico to explore the creation and offering of new academic opportunities in an innovative fashion that serves both current and future workforce development needs,” said Melissa Burdi, Purdue University Global vice president and dean of the School of Nursing, who was part of the delegation. “UPR is a highly valued partner, and we look forward to a dynamic and meaningful collaboration.”

In a joint statement, Miguel Vélez-Rubio, chancellor for UPR-Bayamón, and Jorge F. Rovira-Alvarez, dean of academic affairs, said: “The University of Puerto Rico at Bayamón is pursuing a strong collaboration partnership with Purdue University and its affiliates. We are confident that establishing agreements on diverse academic fields and services will allow both institutions to grow, and we foresee ample benefits for current students and future recruitment. It most definitively expands our academic offering and provides students with additional opportunities to develop both in professional areas and personal interests.”

purdue-pg-pr Students and faculty from Purdue University and Purdue University Global at UPR-Mayaguez. (Photo provided) Download image

During the weeklong stay, Purdue students gave presentations on sustainability and climate change, biomedical innovation, emerging COVID technologies, mass migration at the U.S.-Mexico border and precision medicine and exchanged ideas with UPR students. They visited the Engine-4 coworking space, an incubator and the marine science laboratory in Mayaguez.

The focus was to forge relationships that will benefit students and professors in disciplines such as precision medicine and health care, sustainability and climate change, and engineering. Specifically, the Purdue team initially identified three key areas to serve as a springboard for the partnership. They are:

Nursing: The Purdue University Global School of Nursing will collaborate with UPR to develop innovative education offerings and will invite nursing faculty from UPR to the Purdue West Lafayette campus for a Summer Institute to explore immersive learning virtual reality options for nursing faculty and students in Puerto Rico. “Building this unique partnership affords the Purdue system and UPR the ability to co-create learning opportunities aimed at solving current and future workforce challenges within the entire health care ecosystem, where education and hands-on preparation are key, including the use of precision medicine,” Burdi said.

With precision medicine, the goal is to utilize robots to disinfect critical areas in Puerto Rico hospitals while also detecting different contaminants in the hospitals’ air. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Purdue students worked with Luciano Castillo, the Kenninger Professor of Renewable Energy and Power Systems in Mechanical Engineering at Purdue, and Richard Voyles, head of the Collaborative Robotics Lab at Purdue and director of the Robotics Accelerator, to design, build and deploy two autonomous cleaning robots to disinfect spaces. 

Engineering: Purdue West Lafayette will develop a transfer program for UPR students to complete their degree in biomedical engineering and aerospace engineering. UPR-Bayamón is limited in the number of students accepted by UPR-Mayaguez into their existing programs. Additionally, this program will allow Purdue to grow its pool of diverse students in areas not offered at UPR-Bayamón, such as aerospace engineering, nuclear engineering, materials engineering and biomedical engineering. In collaboration with UPR faculty, Purdue faculty will develop a template for introductory courses. “For Purdue to partner with the University of Puerto Rico to help them grow engineering programs, such as aerospace engineering and biomedical engineering, is a unique way to help grow the local workforce while increasing diversity here and promoting unique research partnerships such as Coastal Resiliency,” said Mung Chiang, the John A. Edwardson Dean of the College of Engineering and Purdue’s vice president for strategic initiatives.

Professional development for police: UPR-Bayamón is the primary institution designated by the government to offer training opportunities for police. Purdue has identified a unique opportunity to leverage existing funding to develop and offer high-quality professional development.

To jumpstart the partnership, UPR stakeholders have been invited to participate in the Summer Institute for Sustainability & Climate Change at Purdue West Lafayette from June 20 to Aug. 1.

Castillo is working with the Office of Naval Research (ONR) on a consortium for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic-serving institutions to conduct this initiative with the goal of building and mentoring a diverse workforce that will solve future challenges pertaining to sustainability climate change, security and precision medicine. The target audience is K-12 students and faculty and college undergraduate and graduate students, and participants will receive a certificate of completion after taking part in the monthlong institute.

“Addressing social inequality and engaging the untapped talent in our communities while solving climate change, health challenges, and security are major goals of our consortium,” Castillo said. “By increasing a diverse STEM workforce, we will accelerate new innovations, which will propel a strong economy in Puerto Rico, specifically in disadvantaged communities. For us to partner with the University of Puerto Rico to address problems related to coastal resiliency, renewable energy and train a strong STEM workforce will help us build a vibrant future for the island and in the mainland.”

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked in each of the last four years as one of the 10 Most Innovative universities in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at https://stories.purdue.edu.

About Purdue Polytechnic Institute

The Purdue Polytechnic Institute, one of the 10 academic colleges of Purdue University, provides a unique array of high-demand technology disciplines for bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. degrees available on Purdue’s flagship campus in West Lafayette, Indiana, and at other locations throughout the state. The Polytechnic’s faculty and staff encourage innovation, collaboration and creativity among diverse interdisciplinary groups in the persistent pursuit of big ideas and novel approaches. Thanks to our generous alumni and engaged industry partners, Purdue Polytechnic continues the important steps of Purdue’s history, preparing our graduates for their successful futures.

About Purdue University Global

Purdue University Global delivers personalized online education tailored to the unique needs of adults who have work or life experience beyond the classroom, enabling them to develop essential academic and professional skills with the support and flexibility they need to achieve their career goals. It offers personalized paths for students to earn an associate, bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree, based on their work experience, desired pace, military service, previous college credits and other considerations – no matter where they are in their life journey. Purdue University Global is a nonprofit, public university accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. It is affiliated with Purdue University’s flagship institution, a highly ranked public research university located in West Lafayette, Indiana. Purdue University also operates regional campuses in Fort Wayne and Northwest Indiana, as well as serving science, engineering and technology students at the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) campus. For more information, visit purdueglobal.edu.

Media Contact: Tom Schott, tschott@purdue.edu

Sources: Mung Chiang

Maricel Lawrence

Melissa Burdi

Luciano Castillo

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