Island University Celebrates Inaugural Research and Innovation Week

By Darrell J. Pehr | Published: November 07, 2019

Island University Celebrates Inaugural Research and Innovation Week
Poster presentation of engineering projects.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi focused campus-wide attention on scientific discovery and creative activities during its first Research and Innovation Week Oct. 21-25.

Groups across the University participated in events that appealed to faculty, staff, students and the community. The week was a chance for the University to showcase its growing emphasis and successes in the areas of research and innovation.

“This week was a reflection of the accomplishments that our researchers, our faculty, our students and our staff have been doing for many years,” said Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Vice President for Research and Innovation Ahmed Mahdy. “It is a celebration as well of our own mission, that is educating students and discovering knowledge.”

The week began with a discussion of the importance of collaborations between faculty and industry and an inspirational and educational presentation from Distinguished Speaker Professor Oscar Vazquez-Mena of the NanoEngineering Department at the University of California San Diego. Workshops and presentations were held, focusing on topics such as administrative procedures and budgeting, intended to support faculty in their research activities.

During the week, students took part in two research-related competitions. In one, students presented images from their research projects. First place went to Mechanical Engineering undergraduate Deven Perez for his image of two trains passing each other, which he wrote represents “the industrialization of humanity as well as the beauty in manmade architecture.”

In the second competition, students gave presentations about their innovative ideas, which ranged from the use of an air conditioner compressor’s hot air output as a more sustainable clothes drier to the development of a mobile, rentable “calm pod” to be used at events for participants who feel a need for a quiet space. Marine biology senior Judith Pope presented that idea and won the competition and a $500 prize.

Participants discussed ways to create positive outcomes for society through research, scholarship, creative activity and service; learned about the debate over the role of for-profit academic publishers; and gained insight into how to create regional impact through university-community research partnerships at an event hosted by CPIRA, the Council for Principal Investigators and Research Administrators.

A lab and studio open house and scavenger hunt offered campus-wide access to a wide range of experiences for participants, such as controlled flights of drones in the Unmanned Systems Lab, the reproduction of artwork by an antique printing press and visiting HAL, a high-tech manikin that has vital signs, can speak certain phrases and even blinks, used to train students in the College of Nursing and Health Science Simulation & Clinical Learning Center.

Jennifer Garza-Cuen, TAMU-CC Assistant Professor of Art, was the second Distinguished Speaker. She is a Spring 2019 recipient of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship for her work in photography.

Professor Garza-Cuen gave a presentation about her work and its investigation of national, regional, and local identities as they relate to notions of otherness and place within the context of documentary photography in America.

Garza-Cuen said her project, “Imag[in]ing America,” shows a series of locations in the U.S. “as a residue of cultural memory, an inheritance. The images are a metaphorical memoir, a narrative re-telling of facts and fictions, and a discovery of the dreamland that still is America.”

Plans already are underway for next year’s Research & Innovation Week at the Island University, set for Oct. 19-23, 2020.