|Several comprehensive programs on campus have a special impact on research and education.
Puerto Rico Resource Center for Science and Engineering
RCSE is a consortium of the major institutions of higher education on the island, which includes the University of Puerto Rico System, Inter-American University System, and the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico. RCSE's mission is to achieve excellence in science technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in order to promote full participation of Puerto Rican students in these fields and to develop the human resources and research base needed to support the island’s economic and technological development. Created in 1980 with joint funding from the National Science Foundation and the University of Puerto Rico, RCSE has been extremely successful in pursuing its goals and has experienced a sound and steadfast growth in the scope of its programs.
The high level of success at RCSE is in great part due to its development as a consortium based on a collaborative network among major institutions of higher education, while providing access to a broad pool of resources by promoting excellence. Its goals range from efforts to improve science and mathematics curricula from grades K-12 in the island’s schools to the establishment of research and development capability on the island. Due to the multi-institutional nature of its structure and complexity of its goals, RCSE was established as an administrative unit of the University’s Central Administration. As a special entity which is not identified with any particular academic program, level or unit, the RCSE has effectively promoted maximum collaboration among all institutions, facilitating a synergistic effect through the improvement of STEM education on the island. RCSE has acted as an intermediary among consortium institutions, bringing them together to identify major problems and needs in STEM education and to develop innovative programs to address these needs. Key academic and administrative officials from all member institutions participate actively in the planning and implementation of the RCSE programs. Offices for RCSE are located on Río Piedras and Mayagüez Campuses.
Puerto Rico Transportation Technology Transfer Center -
Local Technical Assistance Program: LTAP-FHWA
The Transportation Technology Transfer Center that was created on April 1, 1986 in the Civil Engineering and Surveying Department of the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus as part of the Federal Highway Administration Rural Technical Assistance Program (RTAP) that emphasized technical assistance to local transportation officials in rural communities. With the approval of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) in 1991, the program was changed to the present Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) and included technical assistance to urban areas with an expansion of the network to 57 Centers (one in each state, five in tribal communities and our Center).
The PR LTAP Center originally was part of the Region 1 of the Federal Highway Administration geographical division that included the states located in the Northeastern portion of the United States. Since 1996, as part of the reorganization of the Federal Highway Administration the Center is part of the Southeastern region with the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The Centers of this region collaborate in organizing regional meeting and conferences and in sharing technology transfer materials and instructors. At the national level, the LTAP Centers are coordinated by the Federal Highway Administration with the assistance of the American Public Works Association Clearinghouse and the National Associaton of Transportation Technology Transfer Centers. At the local level, our Center receives assistance and guidance from an Advisory Committee consisting of members from the state transportation department, agencies that deal with municipal problems and the Virgin Islands.
The principal activity of the Center is its seminar program for local transportation officials from the 78 municipalities in Puerto Rico, the Puerto Rico Department of Transportation and Public Works and the Virgin Islands Department of Public Works. The annual program has included at least 40 seminar days in Puerto Rico and 10 seminar days in the Virgin Islands. The level of training and the selection of the instructor depend upon the topic and the audience to be addressed but the Center assures the quality of the information and the materials provided to the participants.
The seminar program can be classified into two major categories: technical seminars and supporting tool related seminars. Technical related seminars correspond to topics of technical nature related to transportation, such as pavement design, pavement rehabilitation and management, materials, drainage, highway safety, traffic engineering and geographic information systems. Supporting tool related seminars include those that complement routine transportation related activities such as introduction to microcomputers, introduction to spreadsheets and databases, basic management concepts, ethics for engineers, basic statistics, basic supervisory skills, tort liability and guidelines in technical writing.
The seminars have been offered in several of the municipalities in the Island including Ceiba, Humacao, Mayagüez, Ponce and San Juan and in the Virgin Islands specifically in St. Thomas and St. Croix. The facilities of the College of Engineers and Surveyors in Mayagüez, Ponce and San Juan, Puerto Rico Department of Transportation and Public Works, Virgin Islands Department of Public Works, and the University of Virgin Islands have been used for the seminar program in addition to the conference facilities of the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez.
Many of the seminar topics have been accredited by the College of Engineers and Surveyors for its continuous education program.
Newsletters El Puente
The Center publishes a bilingual newsletter (English, Spanish), known as “El Puente.” The purpose of the newsletter, “El Puente, ” as the name implies, is to serve as a bridge (“Puente”) of information between the Center and local transportation officials and as a vehicle for reader response. The current format of the newletter keeps municipal and other transportation officials informed about the latest transportation related technology in a summarized and condensed format. Furthermore, it keeps the reader informed about the latest technical publications and audio-visual material available from the Center, and provides the topics and dates of the training opportunities sponsored by the Center.
Technical Library & Audiovisual Material
The Center provides technology transfer materials in the form of technical publications and videotapes to municipalities or to transportation officials when requested. In terms of publications, the Center maintains a library of technical reports associated with the field of transportation. The library includes over 1,500 research reports, technical magazines, transportation and highway engineering textbooks, proceedings of transportation related conferences, and catalogues of information services that assist in the acquisition of technical information not available at the Center. This library is complemented with the newsletters received from the other LTAP Centers as well as CD’s from the Transportation Research Board (TRB), the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) among others.
In terms of audio-visual material, the Center has developed a technical library that currently consists of over 350 videotapes in VHS format. The topics include administration and management, asphalt, bridges and structures, design and construction, equipment and vehicles, geotechnology, drainage, maintenance and operation, pavements and traffic safety. The Center also distributes, on a loan basis, videotapes developed by the International Road Federation (IRF) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
The Center provides technical information services to municipalities as requested using university staff, Center’s Co-Directors and through its web page, www.uprm.edu/prt2. The information provided is in terms of advice, guidance, or referral to published materials, new video releases associated with safety, drainage, pavement maintenance, traffic congestion, environmental issues associated to transportation and other relevant areas associated to the built transportation infrastructure in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Telephone, letter and electronic mail (e-mail) will also be used to handle any request. In certain cases, the requests could be used to develop a seminar topic of interest to other officials from the municipalities.
The Center participates in short-term projects to complement its daily technology transfer activities. These projects are of interest to the municipalities. Puerto Rico DTPW, and the Virgin Islands Ministry of Public Works. A sample list of special projects that the Center has participated are listed below:
Development of microcomputer software associated with transportation.
Translation of technical material of transportation related topics to Spanish.
Identification of municipalities needs related to transportation.
Development of guidelines for the municipalities on how to prepare Request for Proposal (RFP) related to public transportation projects.
Translation and adaptation of Federal guidelines related to different aspects of the mass transportation program.
Development of technical videos regarding the proper use of asphalt, concrete and soils, in road and bridge construction.
Spanish translation of Standard Specifications for Construction of Roads and Bridges on Federal Highway Projects (FP-85).
Development of technical guidelines for traffic control in construction zones.
Participation in the Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP) Assessment Project regarding the documentation of successful stories associated to the implementation of safety products in highway construction zones, and the inventory of existing pavement distresses.
Surveys to determine the need of municipalities with a population less than 50,000.
American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and its legal implications.
Evaluation of existent transportation facilities in municipalities with a population less than 50,000.
Evaluation of marketing methods to promote public transportation in municipalities with a population less than 50,000.
Puerto Rico Strong Motion Program
The Puerto Rico Strong Motion Program (PRSMP) has the mission to minimize the fatalities and the economical losses during moderate and high intensity earthquakes through the seismic instrumentation and supporting related research. The PRSMP has two main divisions: the free field stations, and the seismic instrumentation of structures. Regarding the free field stations there are 90 strong motion stations in the main island, surrounding islands (Mona, Caja de Muerto, Culebra and Vieques) and countries US Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands (BVI), and Dominican Republic. Nine stations are continuous recording and sending the data through Internet while other 48 are modem connected. In addition, there are seven continuos recording collocated seismic stations where accelerograph and broad band seismograph are one beside the other. The program uses the Antelope Network Administrator.
Regarding the instrumentation of structures there are two buildings, three dams and three bridges instrumented in Puerto Rico. During the present year four additional instrumented will be instrumented; two dams, a building in Mayagüez, and the airport control tower in BVI. Strong Motion records are available upon request.
UPR Sea Grant College Program
Since 1980, the University of Puerto Rico Sea Grant College Program has been working to promote the conservation, sustainability and wise use of the coastal and marine resources of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This is one of 31 programs which conform the National Sea Grant Program created in 1966 with the signing of Public Law 89-688, the National Sea Grant and College Program Act. The aim of UPR Sea Grant is to better inform public policy makers, change resource user attitudes and practices, develop educational curricula and promote conservation and sustainable economic development. The UPR Sea Grant program achieves its mission through a multifaceted approach which includes research, outreach and formal(K-12) education programs.
UPR Sea Grant links the university setting, which focuses on the development of theoretical and applied research, with regional and national agencies, and stakeholders producing a better understanding of marine technologies, seafood production (including marine aquaculture), coastal ecosystem health, and coastal economic development (including human environmental impact, and public safety). Sea Grant provides research and educational opportunities to graduate and undergraduate students of all fields related to conservation of marine resources. The information produced by research activities is organized and disseminated through workshops and activities developed by the Marine Outreach Program and the education component of our program.
Pre-College Engineering Program
PCEP is a two-week summer-residential program designed to introduce talented high school students to the engineering profession. The program's main objective is to motivate participants to select and pursue careers in engineering. Upon completion of the program, participants are able to make informed career decisions. The program has served a total of 590 students. Ninety-four percent of the students served by this program pursued careers in engineering. Funding for the program comes from corporate institutions.