The Art of Discovery
By Andres Tamayo

The Art of Discovery
By Andres Tamayo
Innovations at the University of Miami are featured at the second annual eMerge Americas conference at the Miami Convention Center.

Victor Cruz, a computer engineer with Goverlan Inc., sat with his head down and eyes focused in a 3-D simulator for the DaVinci Xi surgical robot at the Miami Beach Convention Center Monday afternoon.

Gina Avellan, a representative for the robot, stood to his right facing a crowd that had gathered to watch one of many simulated surgeries throughout the day.

“Now, with your left hand, grab the rubber ring and place it here,” she said as she circled a ring on a raised screen for the group of visitors to see.  “Good,” she exclaimed as Cruz impressively completed the task.

The Xi robot, a four-armed behemoth developed to help surgeons perform precise surgeries, is currently being used by UM surgeons and is one of the university’s most prized possessions. 

“It’s mind-blowing,” Cruz said as he paused from the excitement of completing his first surgery.  “It’s mind-blowing how natural the movements are. I would have never thought that a robot’s motion would be that natural.” 

Xi, as it is commonly referred to, was one of many innovations that UM had on display at the second annual eMerge Americas technology conference. 

UM displayed state-of-the-art work being conducted at the School of Architecture, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and the Center for Computational Science. The School of Architecture featured an interactive social media coffee table which attracted tweets and Instagram posts based on certain hashtags embedded in coffee cups. RSMAS boasted a fish tank full of mahi-mahi fry while CCS showed off a drone used for mapping cities in need of new infrastructure. The School of Business also had representatives talking about The Launch Pad, an on-campus accelerator that offers advice exclusively to UM students looking to start their own companies. 

The conference, which aims to make Miami the technology hub of the Americas, is expected to attract 10,000 local, national, and international visitors over five days. It is quickly becoming a showcase for businesses, higher education institutions, and others wanting to explain and explore the latest trends occurring in the technology and health sectors.

Various UM officials and faculty spoke during break-out sessions at Monday's event, including Provost Thomas E. LeBlanc, Architecture Dean Rodolphe el-Khoury, Eugene Anderson, dean of the School of Business Administration, and Norma Kenyon, Chief Innovation Officer at the Miller School of Medicine.

They spoke about the challenges Miami faces to attract and keep entrepreneurial talent in Miami. 

“We need to help our students learn to be entrepreneurs and you can’t do that without creating a culture of entrepreneurship,” LeBlanc said. 

The conference concludes Tuesday with another full day of demonstrations and speakers at the Miami Beach Convention Center.