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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

RUM receives $500,000 for engineering laboratory

By Richard Gutiérrez

The University of Puerto Rico in Mayagüez in Mayagüez (RUM) received a $500,000 donation from Pratt & Whitney, a company specializing in the design and construction of airplane engines. This donation aims to create a gifting program for professors and students in the engineering field, facilitating their work on projects aligned with the TurboLab mission—a space inaugurated at Mayagüez University’s facilities at the end of last year, also as part of a substantial contribution from the same company.

Dr. Agustín Rullán Toro, the university’s director, expressed his gratitude stating, “with this donation, we move on to the next stage of our relationship with Pratt & Whitney. To date, they have contributed over $1.6 million to us. The initial funds of $1.1 million were primarily dedicated to enhancing the development of the ‘Turbo Lab,’ which has become the first center of aerospace excellence in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. With the infrastructure and equipment already in place, these new funds will be focused on supporting innovative projects. This strengthens our ties with the industry, and we want them to trust us with the funds they allocate for academic events, ultimately benefiting their position, particularly in Puerto Rico. It also opens up more opportunities for our university members to work in the rapidly growing aerospace industry on the island.”

Engineer Josymar Acosta Grafals, President and General Manager of Pratt and Whitney Puerto Rico, and a graduate of the Department of Mechanical Engineering (INME), emphasized that this support aims to provide students with additional tools before entering the workforce. “With the ‘Turbo Lab’ now in place, the next step is to maximize its use to better prepare students for the industry. Rather than requesting specific investigations, we want to tap into the university’s talent and creativity and have them propose their projects. We will then select the projects based on their proposals,” stated Acosta Grafals.

She added, “As an RUM graduate myself, this holds significant emotional value for me. Collaborating with my alma mater at this point in my career is an honor, and I hope to help future students have diverse experiences and be better prepared for the industry.”

Dr. Sheilla N. Torres Nieves, the principal investigator of the project and director of the Aerospace Engineering Center at the university, explained that they will receive letters of intent in August, followed by invited proposals in September, with the goal of selecting eight to ten projects. “The opportunity is open to any area related to the aerospace industry, but we will prioritize those aligned with Turbo Lab’s subjects, including damped systems, gas turbines, advanced propulsion, and analysis and computational design. This collaboration reinforces our ties with Pratt & Whitney and allows us to utilize the recently inaugurated infrastructure efficiently. We want the selected projects to utilize all available tools, computers, programs, and have direct access to mentorship from the industry,” stated Torres Nieves.

Representing Dr. Luis A. Ferrao Delgado, President of the University of Puerto Rico, Margarita E. Méndez Escudero, Director of the Office of Development and Alumni, expressed gratitude for Pratt & Whitney’s support. She stated, “The assistance we receive from Pratt and Whitney is crucial for our academic growth and university development. This support not only manifests in philanthropic contributions but also positively impacts our students by providing them with experiences aligned with workforce expectations. Additionally, it helps us retain students and strengthen our alumni connections. Our former students feel joyful about supporting the university and giving back in some way. Therefore, we invite everyone to invest in and support the university in any way they can.”

The agreement made by the Office of Alumni and Philanthropy of RUM, directed by Carmen Patricia Parés Parés, was subscribed in the director’s office. Parés expressed gratitude for the support and encouraged other entities and corporations to follow their example for the benefit of students.

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