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Released July 16, 2004

SPANISH UNIVERSITY STRENGTHENS COLLABORATION
WITH SOUTHERN MISS

HATTIESBURG -- One year after visiting The University of Southern Mississippi to explore scholarly and economic development opportunities using virtual reality technologies, a Spanish university official returned to campus this week to strengthen and expand the international collaboration.

Dr. Jorge Capote, director of the Grupo de Investigación y Desarrollo de Actuaciones Industriales (GIDAI), made his second visit to Hattiesburg, where he spent the week as a guest of the Innovation for Construction and Engineering Enhancement (ICEE) center.

Housed at the University of Cantabria in Spain, GIDAI focuses on applying modern techniques to the design, planning and organizing of construction projects. ICEE is a multidisciplinary research center at Southern Miss organized to enhance the economic development and educational opportunities of its participants.

The purpose of Capote's transatlantic visit was to explore initiatives that would allow the universities to share information and collaborate on engineering projects in real time, using both existing and newly developed methods.

"Since my first visit last summer, we have developed two major projects--one for the Department of Transportation in Spain, and one for a nuclear authority," Capote said through an interpreter, Dr. Tulio Sulbaran, an assistant professor in the School of Engineering Technology.

Before returning to Spain, Capote hopes to establish a new line of research in virtual reality and computational methods in situations of fire safety, Sulbaran said.

"GIDAI and ICEE have already submitted a couple of projects in Europe and organized a conference in October that involves people from Japan, Italy, Germany, the United States and Spain. In addition, we have also signed an agreement with Prentiss Hall Publishing to write a book," Sulbaran said.

During his weeklong visit, Capote met with various members of different university departments and attended sessions highlighting ongoing ICEE projects, such as using virtual reality in construction cost estimating and improving productivity in construction workers.

Capote also met with the state fire marshal, the Southern Miss Safety Department, and officials from Jones County Junior College and NASA.

Southern Miss Provost Dr. Tim Hudson said he knew personally from his own work in Spain the high regard in which Capote is held. "The University of Cantabria, where he works, is one of Spain's finest (universities) and the opportunity to collaborate with it is a sign of the quality of our construction program and a wonderful opportunity for our students and faculty.

"These types of international exchanges are essential to remain competitive and up-to-date in any field in this era of globalization, and we are grateful to Dr. Capote and to the Southern Miss faculty, such as Dr. Sulbaran, for their initiative. I look for great things from this 'alianza' (alliance)," Hudson said.

Dr. Rex Gandy, dean of the College of Science and Technology, met with Capote on Tuesday. He said the ongoing collaboration between both universities will greatly enhance and benefit the construction programs in both countries.

"Dr. Sulbaran and Dr. Capote deserve praise for establishing and nurturing this important effort that will benefit the students and faculty at both institutions," Gandy said.

The author of numerous books and monographs regarding construction equipment and fire safety, Capote has participated in the planning and construction of numerous industrial, commercial and residential projects in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.

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July 23, 2004 10:57 AM

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