Office Depot donated a $500,000 check to the Department of Industrial Engineering at the University of Miami on Feb. 2 as part of a new project to expand the college’s research capabilities.
As the chief executive officer of Office Depot, Steve Odland stood behind a podium surrounded by students, faculty members and President Donna E. Shalala, to introduce the half-million dollar check.
Odland expressed his high hopes for the future of the School of Engineering to improve the current supply disbursement method.
“This is a special gift because Office Depot, unlike other companies, was built with a lot of effort,” Odland said. “We have 30 facilities in the United States and even though we have a good supply chain program, we do not have enough.”
The donation, a component of Office Depot’s new $4.5 million Education and Diversity Partnership Program, will be used to build a new laboratory at the industrial engineering department.
The new facility, which will operate in conjunction with the Anthony Burns Center for Advanced Supply Chain Management and the Industrial Assessment Center, will consist of more faculty members and equipment to conduct supply chain research that will allow the University to conduct business at the local, national and international levels.
Andre Espaulding, assistant director of the Burns Center, said the grant will help in Shalala’s continuing private donation campaign.
“The grant is to help strengthen the University’s national ranking,” he said.
Espaulding said the School of Engineering is creating an awareness campaign as part of the project.
“We first want to get the lab complete. Then we want to bring in faculty from all over the school by preparing an awareness campaign,” Espaulding said.
According to Espaulding, the goal of the Industrial Engineering Department is to work with Latin America on supply chain network simulations.
Shihab Asfour, professor and chairman of department of industrial engineering, said part of the research will be based on frequency technology and on the reduction of energy costs.
“We are trying to help the U.S. industry in particular,” Asfour said. “We are trying to save energy.”
The industrial department uses electrical cables that feed the transducers placed inside a number of equipment such as air conditioning units. Once fed, samples of what was recorded are taken to determine the amount of energy that is used on a daily basis at several workplaces. Asfour said this method makes it harder to keep track of the consumption of energy.
“We want to develop a wireless solution to measure energy,” he said.
Approximately 19 students were present at the event, which took place at the School of Engineering courtyard.
Annette Avadin, freshman, said the grant is a good opportunity for every engineering major.
“I think it is great that we have such a good connection to other companies,” she said.
Bianca Maceo, freshman, said she hopes for more donations.
“Hopefully other companies will get inspired and donate,” Maceo said.
The laboratory will be used in part by students that belong to the Senior Design Project, where students work on numerous engineering cases that are later applied to real life.
Lewis Temares, dean of the College of Engineering, said he is been hoping for something like this.
“One of the things I have been trying to pursue is supply chain management, and Office Depot is a leader in supply chain management,” Temares said.
Temares said this will allow for higher employment of students.
“All of this will lead to more jobs because Miami is a service center,” Temares said.
Shalala said this is a great opportunity for the entire school.
“This innovation laboratory will take us to a new level,” Shalala said.
Fanny Olmo can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.