Georgia Tech’s Top-ranked Basic Economic Development Course Explores Placemaking

The Georgia Institute of Technology is hosting its 57th annual Basic Economic Development Course (BEDC), an immersive in-person event that explores the multifaceted theme of placemaking, Aug. 26 – 29, 2024, at the Georgia Tech Global Learning Center.

BEDC is presented by Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute in conjunction with the International Economic Development Council (course completion can be applied toward certification) and the Georgia Economic Developers Association.

The Enterprise Innovation Institute is the longest running, most diverse university-based development organization in the U.S. Through the application of Georgia Tech’s world-class research in science, technology, and innovation, it helps companies, entrepreneurs, economic developers, and communities hone their competitive edge.

Since its founding in the 1880s, Georgia Tech has been committed to promoting economic development in the state of Georgia, and BEDC — which was the nation’s first course of its kind when it debuted in 1967 — continues that longstanding tradition.

Led by the Enterprise Innovation Institute’s Center for Economic Development Research, and under the guidance of a collaborative team of economists, city planners, and economic development practitioners, BEDC attendees spend four days participating in interactive workshops, networking with industry professionals, and listening to guest speakers whose expertise spans a range of disciplines.

The course delves into different strategies for fostering local economic development, from crafting effective incentives and creating quality communities to promoting economic recovery and resilience — not to mention navigating all the opportunities and challenges that arise in the process.

In short, there’s a lot more to economic development than simply providing jobs.

“Today’s society is more mobile than ever,” said Alan Durham, a program manager and BEDC course director with the Enterprise Innovation Institute’s Center for Economic Development Research.

“Because an increasing number of number of workers are no longer tied to a centralized office location, they are embracing the opportunity to move to farther-flung areas. As a result, quality of life is becoming essential for attracting talent and retaining existing companies. This course trains influential local leaders who can assist their communities in doing exactly that.”

BEDC welcomes enrollees of all experience levels. Whether they are new to economic development or looking expand their existing knowledge base, participants can expect to complete the course armed with an amplified understanding of essential principles — and the skills to put them into practice.

What: Basic Economic Development Course (BEDC)
When:
August 26 – 29, 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. EDT
Where:
Global Learning Center, 84 Fifth Street N.W., Atlanta, GA 30308
Presented by: The Georgia Institute of Technology in conjunction with the International Economic Development Council and the Georgia Economic Developers Association
Program director: Alan Durham, 404.660.0241, alan.durham@innovate.gatech.edu
Register: gt-bedc.org
For more information, contact: Krystle Richardson, 404.894.7174, krystle.richardson@innovate.gatech.edu

EI2’s Chasten McCrary Awarded Bergmark Family Study Abroad Scholarship for Scheller Project in Czechia

Chasten McCrary (Photo: Chris Ruggiero)

Chasten McCrary, a strategy consultant with the Enterprise Innovation Institute‘s chief of staff, was awarded the Bergmark Family Study Abroad Scholarship from Georgia Tech’s Scheller College of Business.

McCrary, a second-year Evening MBA student, was selected to partake in Scheller’s International Practicum Course. This Spring semester, she serves as a student consultant for an internationally-based company alongside her classmates.

As part of this opportunity, she is spending her spring break in Czechia (formerly the Czech Republic) to collaborate with ALBAform, a woman-owned manufacturing company in the automotive industry.

McCrary said she was excited to blend her hands-on work experience with educational enrichment during this adventure.

“I really enjoyed serving as a consultant on the team for ALBAform,” McCrary said. “I’m looking forward to delivering our final recommendations and I’m so grateful for this opportunity.”

From left, John Parkerson, international business attorney; Scheller MBA students, Brooke E. Leeder, Chasten McCrary, Stephen Coterillo; Monika Vintrlikova, ALBAform senior executive and Honorary Consul Czechia, and Jan Vintrlik, ALBAform’s chief operating officer.

Founded in 1992, ALBAform is a second-generation, family-owned business with more than three decades of international experience in metal fabrication and engineering services with operations in. Czechia, Mexico, and in Flowery Branch, Georgia. Its clients include BMW, Ford Motor Co., and Volvo.

The company is a client of the Enterprise Innovation Institute’s Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which assisted ALBAform in leadership and business strategy consulting, and workforce development.

The Bergmark Family Study Abroad Scholarship is named for Dick Bergmark (IM ‘75, Hon. PhD ’22), one of  the Scheller College of Business’ main philanthropists, and immediate past chair of the school’s advisory board.

Enterprise 6 Internship Program Applications Open for Summer 2024

Are you a student currently enrolled in the University System of Georgia (USG) who’s excited
to take on new challenges in technology, business development, or ecosystem building?

Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute is now accepting applications for its competitive 2024 Enterprise 6 (E6) Summer Internship Program, which offers paid opportunities to collaborate on dynamic projects in furtherance of an economic development mission.

The longest running and most diverse university-based economic development organization in the United States, the Enterprise Innovation Institute launched its founding program more than 60 years ago. Since then, the organization has expanded to serve innovative enterprises of all sizes, from pre-company teams and startups to long-running businesses, as well as communities seeking to revitalize their local economies.

Though the Enterprise 6 Internship Program, USG undergraduate and graduate students across a range of disciplines discover how the skills they’ve been cultivating in classrooms and labs can play a role in economic development. The program is made possible via funding from the Georgia Tech Office of the Executive Vice President for Research.

Two georgia tech Enterprise 6 alums
Enterprise 6 alums from the 2023 class (from left) Olajide Olugbade and Hanyu Lu. (PHOTOS: Péralte Paul)

Although the internship doesn’t accrue academic credit, students receive $25 an hour for a 20-hour work week. Each intern is mentored by an Enterprise Innovation Institute research faculty member, and bi-weekly remote meetings offer the chance to share observations about their experience.

“The Enterprise Innovation Institute engages in meaningful work to expand economic opportunity for all, and the E6 program provides students the opportunity to work on real-world challenges supporting the equitable development and deployment of talent and innovation both locally and globally,” said David Bridges, the Enterprise Innovation Institute’s vice president.

“In some cases, E6 interns are so inspired by this experience that they that change the trajectory of their ambitions.”

Take, for example, Eve Pike, who at the time of her 2021 internship was a student at Georgia Tech’s Sam Nunn School of International Affairs. Working with Enterprise 6 gave her a new set of reference points, and Pike realized she wanted to pursue a career in tech — and possibly even expand into marketing or economics. “It broadened my horizon,” she said.

Hanyu Lu found that her experience as an Enterprise 6 intern in 2023 “significantly enhanced my skills in analysis and development.” After E6, Lu, who is working towards a master’s degree in computational science and engineering at Georgia Tech, went on to complete an internship at Heartland Forward, in Bentonville, Arkansas, where she continued to strengthen the abilities she honed as an E6 intern.

For another member of the 2023 cohort, Olajide Olugbade, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in science and technology policy at Georgia Tech, the Enterprise 6 internship was instrumental in securing his current position as a graduate research assistant. “The knowledge I gained, the skills I demonstrated, and the relationship I built while conducting research for the EI2 Global team all contributed to being the candidate of choice,” he said.

The benefits of the Enterprise 6 program flow in both directions; not only do the interns gain valuable skills from their experiences, they also contribute in a very tangible way to the Enterprise Innovation Institute’s mission.

“E6 students bring fresh and unique perspectives to our work,” said Bridges. “These perspectives allow our programs to deliver leading-edge capacity-building support to people, companies, and communities in Georgia and beyond.”

Enterprise 6 internships run from May 13 to August 9. Seven internships are available, and interested students may apply to a maximum of two.

See the project outlines from the application link.

  • EARN: $25 per hour (up to 20 hours per week).
  • OPPORTUNITY TO: Serve enterprises and communities of all sizes.
  • REQUIREMENTS: Must thrive on challenging projects in technology, business development, or ecosystem building.
  • ELIGIBILITY: Open to all University System of Georgia students.
  • WHEN: May 13, 2024 to August 9, 2024.
  • LOCATION: Hybrid (work remotely and in Technology Square, Atlanta).
  • DEADLINE: Résumés due March 22, 2024.
  • APPLY:  https://innovate.gatech.edu/enterpise-6-application-2024/
  • QUESTIONS?… E-mail: krystle.richardson@innovate.gatech.edu

Georgia AIM co-director speaks at White House event

WASHINGTON — Georgia Artificial Intelligence in Manufacturing (Georgia AIM) co-director Donna Ennis spoke at a White House event on Wednesday, Feb. 14, announcing new equity plans unveiled by federal agencies.

Georgia Artificial Intelligence in Manufacturing Co-Director Donna Ennis.

Georgia AIM, part of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, works to drive AI adoption to lead the next revolution in U.S. manufacturing across all sectors, geographies, communities, and across underrepresented constituencies.

In addition to Ennis, Aaron Stebner, an associate professor in Georgia Tech’s George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, serves as Georgia AIM co-director and lead at the Georgia Tech Manufacturing Institute‘s Advanced Manufacturing Pilot Facility.

Georgia AIM’s mission is to serve all Georgians, including rural residents, women, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), those living with disabilities, and veterans. Historically, these groups have been underrepresented in manufacturing.

The White House selected Georgia AIM among the many Build Back Better-funded projects to highlight the importance of community-based work in achieving equity. Below are Ennis’ prepared remarks for the event. With Ennis was Don Graves, deputy secretary of commerce, and former Columbia, South Carolina Mayor Stephen K. Benjamin, a senior advisor to President Joe Biden.

From left: Former Columbia, South Carolina Mayor Stephen K. Benjamin, a senior advisor to President Joe Biden; Deputy U.S. Commerce Secretary Don Graves, and Donna Ennis.

Thank you, Secretary Raimondo and Mr. Benjamin, for this opportunity to discuss how critical the Build Back Better funding has been to our efforts in Georgia in promoting equity.

The Georgia Artificial Intelligence in Manufacturing project (or Georgia AIM) is dedicated to fostering the equitable development and deployment of innovation and talent in AI for manufacturing. Through new innovative approach to funding, that is a coalition model, EDA has provided a pathway for us to develop a network of over 40 partners across the state, including educational institutions, community organizations, and local agencies, to establish an ecosystem unlike any other focused on workforce development, technology innovation, and resilience in manufacturing.

Georgia AIM’s projects are strategically different in communities across Georgia, because they are tailored to those communities’ specific needs. From boosting robotics competitions in K-12 education to enhancing hurricane resilience and aiding local manufacturers, our grassroots approach ensures meaningful outcomes.  This has all been enabled through the Build Back Better funding.

Our customized approach means these innovations can significantly impact lives in Georgia’s rural areas, as well as in communities that are historically underrepresented in manufacturing—in particular, women, people of color, veterans, and members of the workforce without a college degree.

For example, just a few weeks ago, we welcomed our first 18 graduates of a Georgia AIM-sponsored AI robotics training program at the Georgia Veterans Education Career Transition Resource Center. Graduates transition to jobs with Robins Air Force Base, internships with Georgia Tech’s Advanced Manufacturing Pilot Facility, or private industry around the state.

And because of this funding, mobile labs developed by the Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship, University of Georgia, and HBCU Fort Valley State University will extend our reach to rural communities and communities of color, introducing them to smart technologies. These labs are equipped with examples of virtual reality, sensors, robotics, and 3-D printing, with instructors and custom curricula to introduce residents to these new technologies.

Among manufacturers, Georgia AIM has reached nearly 150 small and medium manufacturers including, rural, women-, veteran- and minority-owned companies to help them understand smart technologies.

Funding for Georgia AIM is allowing Georgia Tech’s Advanced Manufacturing Pilot Facility to nearly double its footprint and incorporate a new suite of smart tools and demonstration projects. Already, this facility has partnered with dozens of manufacturers, offering internships and apprenticeships, and guidance to manufacturers of all sizes. In the past year alone, more than 140 companies have learned about AI integration through tours of the facility.

While I could go on and on about how the Build Back Better funding is helping Georgia, I want to emphasize that Georgia AIM’s focus is strategic. We are building a foundation for an innovation economy in a part of the country that historically has not experienced this level of investment from the Federal government. Because of this investment, our AI-based solutions for manufacturers and STEM education efforts are customized for communities, creating a framework that can be replicated across the country. But underlying all of this is equity. We are building an ecosystem that uses AI to solve problems and create innovations for all communities—and, over time, create a template that can then be used to lift up communities across the country. Please visit Georgiaaim.org for more details about our project.

Watch the full event.

Center for MedTech Excellence Named Inaugural Member of ARPA-H Investor Catalyst Hub Spoke Network

MedTech Center joins a national network focused
on accelerating transformative health solutions

ATLANTA — The Center for MedTech Excellence announced today it has been selected as an inaugural spoke for the Investor Catalyst Hub, a regional hub of ARPANET-H, a nationwide health innovation network launched by the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H).

Center for MedTech Excellence Director Nakia Melecio. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

An economic development program of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, the Center for MedTech Excellence boasts a robust track record of pioneering innovation and fostering collaboration within the medical technology industry, making it a prime candidate for a strategic partnership as a spoke partner.

Its deep industry expertise and commitment to advancing cutting-edge solutions position it as an asset for any collaborative endeavor.

Based in the Greater Boston area and managed by VentureWell, the Investor Catalyst Hub aims to accelerate the commercialization of practical, accessible biomedical solutions. It utilizes an innovative hub-and-spoke model designed to reach a wide range of nonprofit organizations and minority-serving institutions, with the ultimate aim of delivering scalable healthcare outcomes for all Americans.

“I consider it a privilege to be a part of the ARPA-H network,” MedTech Center Director Nakia Melecio said. “Not only do we have the opportunity to contribute our capabilities to this influential network, but we also gain access to valuable resources, opportunities, and a transformative investor catalyst hub that will significantly impact our region.

The Center for MedTech Excellence joins a dynamic nationwide network of organizations aligned to ARPA-H’s overarching mission to improve health outcomes through the following research focus areas: health science futures, proactive health, scalable solutions, and resilient systems.

The Investor Catalyst Hub spokes represent a broad spectrum of expertise, geographic diversity, and community perspectives.

“Our spoke network represents a rich and representative range of perspectives and expertise,” said Mark Marino, vice president of Growth Strategy and Development for VentureWell and project director for the Investor Catalyst Hub. “Our spokes comprise a richly diverse network that will be instrumental in ensuring that equitable health solutions reach communities across every state and tribal nation.”

As an Investor Catalyst Hub spoke, Center for MedTech Excellence gains access to potential funding and flexible contracting for faster award execution compared to traditional government contracts. Spoke membership also offers opportunities to provide input on ARPA-H challenge areas and priorities, along with access to valuable networking opportunities and a robust resource library.

The spoke network will continue to grow as the Investor Catalyst Hub expands its efforts, with applications being selected on a rolling basis. Interested organizations can visit investorcatalysthub.org to learn more or submit a membership application.

About the Center for MedTech Excellence
We catalyze the development and commercialization of breakthrough biotechnology, medical devices, life science, and therapeutic innovations. As program of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, we serve as trusted partners and deliver a complete toolkit to enhance the odds of success for an early-stage biotech company. To learn more, visit medtech.gatech.edu.

EI2 Programs Help Keep Georgia Businesses Lean and Healthy

by Jerry Grillo

Trey Sawyers, Katie Hines, and Sean Castillo are helping keep Georgia businesses lean and safe. (Photo: Jerry Grillo)

Sean Castillo is in the win-win business. As an industrial hygienist in the Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2), his job is to ensure that employees are safe in their workspaces, and when he does that, he simultaneously improves a company’s performance.

That’s been a theme for Castillo and his colleagues in the Safety, Health, Environmental Services (SHES) program and their partners in the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP), part of EI2’s suite of programs aimed at helping Georgia businesses thrive.

“A healthier workforce is healthy for business,” said Castillo, part of the SHES team of consultants who often work closely with their GaMEP counterparts to improve safety while also maximizing productivity.

This team of experts from EI2 assist companies trying to reach that critical intersection of both, combining smart ergonomics and safety enhancements with lean manufacturing practices. This can solve human performance gaps due to fatigue, heat, or some other environmental stressor, while helping businesses continue to improve their production processes and, ultimately, their bottom line.

These stressors cost U.S. industry billions of dollars each year — fatigue, for example, is responsible for about $136 billion in lost productivity.

“Protecting your employee — investing in safety now — saves a lot of money later,” Castillo said. “It equates to less money spent on workers compensation and less employee turnover, which means less time training new employees, and that ideally leads to a more efficient process in the workplace.”

It takes careful and intentional collaboration to bring those moving pieces together, and inextricably linked programs like SHES and GaMEP can help orchestrate all of that.

Ensuring Safe Workspaces

SHES is staffed by safety consultants, like Castillo, who provide a free and essential service to Georgia businesses. They help companies ensure that they meet or exceed the standards set by the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), mainly through SHES’ flagship OSHA 21(d) Consultation Program.

“Our job is to ensure that workspaces and processes are designed so that anybody can perform the work safely,” said Trey Sawyers, a safety, health, and ergonomics consultant on the SHES team, aiding small and mid-sized businesses in Georgia. When a company reaches out to SHES to apply for the free, confidential OSHA consultation program, a consultant like Sawyers gets assigned to the task, “based on our area of expertise,” said Sawyers, an expert in ergonomics, which is the science of designing and adapting a workspace to efficiently suit the physical and mental needs and limitations of workers.

“If a company is having ergonomic issues — maybe they’re experiencing a lot of strains and sprains — then I might get the call because of my knowledge and understanding of anthropometry, and then I’ll go take a close look at the facility,” Sawyers said. Anthropometry is the scientific study of a human’s size, form, and functional capacity.

SHES consultants can identify potential workplace hazards, provide guidance on how to comply with OSHA standards, and establish or improve safety and health programs in the company.

“The caveat is the company has to correct any serious hazards that we find,” said Castillo, who visits a wide range of workspaces in his role. For instance, his job will take him to construction and manufacturing sites, gun ranges, even office settings. “We do noise and air monitoring at all different types of workplaces. I was at a primary care clinic the other day. And over the past few years, we’ve had a significant emphasis on stone fabricators, looking for overexposures to respirable crystalline silica.”

Silica, which is dust residue from the process of creating marble and quartz slabs, can lead to a lung disease called silicosis. OSHA established new limits that cut the permissible exposure limits in half, and that has kept the SHES consultants busy as Georgia manufacturers try to achieve and maintain compliance.

Keeping Companies Cool

Another area of growing emphasis for Georgia Tech’s consultants is heat-related stress in the workplace.

“Currently, there are no standards to address this,” Castillo said. “For example, there are no rules that say a construction site worker should drink this much water. There are suggested guidelines and emphasis programs for inspections for targeted industries where heat stress may be prevalent — but no standards, though that is coming.”

The SHES team is trying to stay ahead of what will likely be new federal rules for heat mitigation. To help develop safe standards and better understand the effects of heat on workers, consultants like Castillo are going to construction sites, plant nurseries, and warehouses, and enlisting volunteers in field studies. Using heat stress monitor armbands, they’re monitoring data on workers’ core body temperatures and heart rates.

“These tools are great because we’re not only gathering some good data, but we can use them proactively to prevent heat events such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke, which can be fatal if left untreated,” Castillo said.

To further help educate Georgia companies about the risks of heat-related problems, SHES applied for and recently won a Susan Harwood Training Grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. The $160,000 award will support SHES consultants’ efforts to further their work in heat stress education so that “companies and workers will understand the warning signs and the potential effects of heat stress, and how they can stay safe,” Castillo said. “We’re sure this will all become part of OSHA standards eventually, and we’d like to help our clients stay ahead of the curve to protect their employees.”

OSHA standards are the law, and while larger corporations routinely hire consulting firms to keep them on the straight and narrow, SHES is providing the same level of expertise for its smaller business clients for free. Most of those clients apply for help through SHES’ online request form. And others find the help they need through the guidance of process improvement specialist Katie Hines and her colleagues in GaMEP.

Lean and Safe

Hines came to her appreciation of ergonomics naturally. After graduating from Auburn University, she entered the workforce as a manufacturing engineer for a building materials company, where “it was just part of our day-to-day work life in that manufacturing environment, on the production floor,” she said.

It took grad school and a deeper focus on lean and continuous improvement processes to formalize that appreciation.

While working toward her master’s degree in chemical engineering at Auburn, Hines earned a certificate in occupational safety and ergonomics (like Sawyers, her SHES colleague). At the same time, Hines was helping to guide her company’s lean and continuous improvement program. And when she joined Proctor and Gamble after completing her degree, “The lean concept and safety best practices were fully ingrained, part of the daily discussion there,” she said.

All those hands-on manufacturing production floor experiences managing people and systems prepared Hines well for her current role as a project manager on GaMEP’s Operational Excellence team, where her focus is entirely on lean and continuous improvement work — that is, helping companies reduce waste and improve production while also enhancing safety and ergonomics.

Hines uses her expertise in knowing how manufacturing processes and people should look when everyone is safe and also productive. She can walk into a GaMEP client’s facility and drive the process improvements and solutions that will help them achieve a leaner, more efficient form of production. And then, when she sees the need, Hines will recommend the client contact SHES, “the people who have their fingers on the data and the expertise to improve safety.”

These were concepts that, for a long time, seemed to be working against each other — the very idea of maximizing production and improving profits while also emphasizing worker safety and comfort.

“But you can have both,” Castillo said. “You should have both.”

Open Hands, Open Hearts

A group from the Enterprise Innovation Institute recently volunteered at Open Hand Atlanta

On a recent Friday, a contingent of Enterprise Innovation Institute employees explored the idea of well-being at Open Hand Atlanta, a nonprofit organization that provides food for people with disabilities and chronic disease. Its mission: We cook. We deliver. We teach. We care.

The morning crew

The event was organized by the well-being committee, which has taken on the challenge of trying to bring people in the various programs in the Enterprise Innovation Institute together with events that strengthen the organization while improving the well-being of employees.

“Well-being is at the heart of what we as an economic development organization do every day,” said Caley Landau, a marketing strategist with the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP), who is on the well-being committee. “Our goal in our jobs is to make lives better and improve the human condition. Well-being improves employee engagement and experience, sparks creativity and collaboration, and helps us make the greatest impact possible through our programs. It’s also a philosophy that’s personally important to us as members of the community.”

The afternoon shift

Paul Todd, group manager for operational excellence with GaMEP, worked with Caley to find a team-strengthening activity.

“As part of our focus on well-being, Caley asked me to find a volunteer activity that would bring together employees from across EI² in the service of others,” Todd said. “I was familiar with Open Hand from a series of process improvement projects the GaMEP worked on there in years past, so I knew they had a great mission and a group volunteer program that would fit us well.”

Open Hand has been serving Atlantans for more than three decades. With a full commercial kitchen, staff and volunteers cook, pack, and deliver nutritious meals every day to medically fragile, underserved people, often seniors who live below the poverty line, and rely on the meals and the companionship of the people who deliver them.

In 2022, Open Hand cooked, packed, and delivered 5,000 meals per day, a total of nearly 1.5 million meals across the state, with more than 13,000 volunteer hours. Inflation and a growing need saw a 28% increase in food costs over the past two years. Open Hand’s monthly grocery bill last year was $327,525.

The approximately 30 volunteers from the Enterprise Innovation Institute put together almost 2,000 meals in an assembly line as organized and efficient as any in the for-profit world. It was a wonderful opportunity to work with new people for an important cause.

Georgia-AIM Hosts Kick-Off Meeting

Georgia Artificial Intelligence in Manufacturing (Georgia-AIM) recently held its initial kick-off meeting in October 2022.

Over a two-day period, more than 100 participants from across the state came to Atlanta to brainstorm, collaborate, and share best practices as the group launched its effort in earnest following its winning of a $65 million award from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) in September.

Led by the Georgia Institute of Technology and a coalition of private and public partners across the state, Georgia-AIM seeks to reimagine job opportunities and wage growth in economically distressed and underserved rural parts of Georgia by melding artificial intelligence (AI) with manufacturing, an all-too-important segment of the state’s economy. Manufacturing’s economic impact to the state exceeds $60 billion a year and it employs more than 400,000, Georgia Department of Economic Development figures show.

The goal is to develop new opportunities through outreach programs designed to create a transformational Georgia workforce that will embrace artificial intelligence not be mystified or afraid of it, said Donna Ennis, director of Diversity Engagement and Program Development in Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute and also director of its Georgia MBDA Business Center. Ennis is leading the effort along with Aaron Stebner, associate professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering and the School of Materials Science and Engineering, and Thomas R. Kurfess, executive director of the Georgia Tech Manufacturing Institute.

A large part of the the Georgia-AIM effort, which is also focused on serving historically underrepresented and underserved groups, is getting people to understand artificial intelligence goes beyond robots and that it’s not about taking jobs away, but leveraging this ever-evolving technology to create the jobs of the future, Ennis said.

AI is already an integral part of daily life from smart homes and cars to cities and mobile devices, she said.

“We want to demystify what it is,” she said. “We want to be able to show you that there is a place for you in the artificial intelligence world, particularly as it relates to the manufacturing.”

Kick-off event attendees were able to network and get more in-depth presentations regarding the various projects under the Georgia-AIM umbrella. The projects include building automation solutions tailored for rural manufacturers, industry pilot trials, workforce training for AI manufacturing technologies, prototyping labs and studios, curriculum development for K-12 students, and an virtual reality training innovation lab.

In addition to Georgia Tech, the coalition of 12 public-private partners includes:

·       Georgia Department of Community Affairs

·       Georgia Cyber Center

·       Houston County Development Authority

·       KITTLabs

·       Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs

·       Robins Air Force Base 21st Century Partnership

·       Spelman College

·       Southwest Georgia Regional Commission

·       Technologists of Color

·       Technology Association of Georgia Education Collaborative

·       Technical College System of Georgia

·       University of Georgia

Meet Your New Colleagues

With remote work continuing, it’s often hard to get to know one another, especially for new employees. So, we’re looking for new ways to make connections. Meet this month’s two new employees, Ward Broom and Alberto Ponce. If you run into them or someone else you don’t know at a meeting or on Zoom or Teams, introduce yourself. Work relationships are important to well-being, and this is just one way to help cultivate those relationships.

Ward Broom, Automation & Robotics Catalyst, Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC)

Ward Broom

Ward will oversee the ATDC Automation and Robotics Program — sponsored by Amazon Robotics. He will recruit startups, coach and mentor them, and market the program to those entrepreneurs looking to build and scale technology companies in the robotics or automation sectors.

A triple graduate of Georgia Tech, Ward earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering and an Executive MBA. One of his sons is also a Tech grad with degrees in civil engineering and computer science.

He loves golf and travel – especially trips to the North Carolina mountains, where he can indulge both passions. His wife is a writer and his older son graduated from the Citadel and serves in the Army.

Alberto Ponce, Associate Project Manager, Economic Development Lab (EDL)

Alberto Ponce

Alberto will work in the Innovation Ecosystems group to support projects that develop entrepreneurship ecosystems in Latin America and assist with the Soft Landings program that helps foreign companies navigate their way into the U.S. market.

Alberto has experience running entrepreneurship programs and as an entrepreneur himself. Most recently, he served as the innovation center coordinator at the Medical Center of the Americas in El Paso, Texas.

A native of Mexico, Alberto exercises his creativity in his off time. He enjoys reading, watching classic and contemporary films, listening to music, and playing chess.

With a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from the Universidad Autonoma de Ciudad Juarez, in Mexico, Alberto looks forward to working on projects that help enrich communities around the world.

FEMA Awards $1.5 million to Georgia Tech and Alliance Solutions Group to Develop National Climate Resilience Training

The grant supports the creation of curriculum and tools to empower disadvantaged communities and instill equity

ATLANTA — Global climate change is causing an increase in the frequency, severity, and persistence of destructive weather events. These events coupled with economic- and health-related crises have exacerbated disproportionate effects and inequitable outcomes for vulnerable populations.

To help mitigate these outcomes, Georgia Institute of Technology will work with Alliance Solutions Group (ASG) to create a training and education curriculum that fosters partnerships, information sharing, and problem solving among community-based organizations, local and state leaders, first responders, economic development organizations, and emergency managers.

“We are seeing more and more severe weather events, many of them having a disproportionate impact on small and underserved communities in our country,” said David Bridges, vice president of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. “This is an opportunity to use our expertise and networks to help communities that have been hit hardest solve this growing crisis.”

Supported by a three-year funding award of $1.5 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the training will provide community leaders with the tools and resources to develop climate adaptation strategies that will empower disadvantaged communities and instill equity.

“Our needs analysis identified training gaps that compound existing inequities and highlight the need for systemic solutions to improve climate literacy and better integrate underserved populations into all elements of the National Preparedness System,” said Bob Campbell, founder and CEO of ASG. “This education series will support communities around the country in fostering partnerships to develop and implement equitable climate mitigation and adaptation strategies.”

ASG, a Newport News, Virginia-based company that provides innovative emergency management and environmental solutions to the public, private, and defense sectors, is partnering with the Enterprise Innovation Institute and Georgia Tech’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences in the research, development, and delivery of the training.

“I am excited to contribute to these courses on climate resilience with lessons we have learned developing a course at Georgia Tech on using climate information to improve the resilience of coastal communities to sea level rise,” said Alex Robel, assistant professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, who will be part of the team developing content. “Our goal is to disseminate best practices to emergency management agencies around the U.S.”

FEMA developed the grant to further implementation of its goals to instill equity in emergency management and lead the country in climate resilience.

Doreen Kincaid, project manager for the grant

“This is an important opportunity for Georgia Tech to build on its experience with the Smart Sea Level Sensors project in Chatham County that provides real-time information on sea level rise to underserved communities,” said Doreen Kincaid, the project manager on the grant. “It will also allow Georgia Tech and ASG to leverage their partnership and experience on two previous FEMA grants related to hazardous materials and economic recovery to develop and deliver a training program with measurable results.”

National in scope with a mix of virtual and in-person delivery, the training courses will be available in all 50 states, six territories, and 573 Native American communities. In support of the Justice40 Initiative, President Joe Biden’s order to direct 40% of the benefits of federal investments related to climate change and training to disadvantaged communities, the team will prioritize training for those communities. As courses are completed and ready for delivery, they will be posted in FEMA’s National Training and Educational Division online catalogue.

As community leaders complete training, they will be equipped to conduct climate risk and social vulnerability assessments, outline strategies for incorporating vulnerable populations into plans, develop risk communication strategies, establish plans to stabilize community lifelines, and understand and apply climate forecasts into emergency management programs.

About Georgia Tech

The Georgia Institute of Technology, or Georgia Tech, is one of the top public research universities in the U.S., developing leaders who advance technology and improve the human condition. The Institute offers business, computing, design, engineering, liberal arts, and sciences degrees. Its more than 46,000 students, representing 50 states and more than 150 countries, study at the main campus in Atlanta, at campuses in France and China, and through distance and online learning. As a leading technological university, Georgia Tech is an engine of economic development for Georgia, the Southeast, and the nation, conducting more than $1 billion in research annually for government, industry, and society.

About the Enterprise Innovation Institute

The Enterprise Innovation Institute, the Georgia Institute of Technology’s economic development unit, serves all of Georgia through a variety of services and programs that build and scale startups, grow business enterprises, and energize ecosystem builders. As the nation’s largest and most comprehensive university-based economic development organization, the Institute’s expertise and reach are global; its innovation, entrepreneurship, and ecosystem development programs serve governments, universities, nonprofits, and other organizations worldwide. In 2021, the Enterprise Innovation Institute served more than 15,500 businesses, communities, and entrepreneurs. Those clients reported startup investment capital exceeding $1.1 billion and creating or saving more than 11,300 jobs. The Enterprise Innovation Institute’s total 2021 financial impact exceeded $2.9 billion. Learn more at innovate.gatech.edu. 

About School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

The School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, part of the College of Sciences at Georgia Tech, produces breakthrough discoveries through research and prepares students to advance the knowledge of Earth sciences as they become leaders in academia, government, and industry. EAS applies scientific knowledge and principles to inform and support public policy, resource management, and environmental stewardship. The internationally recognized School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences has delivered 15 climate-related courses to more than 5,000 students over the last 10 years.

About Alliance Solutions Group, Inc.

Alliance Solutions Group (ASG) is a service-disabled, veteran-owned small business that offers emergency management and environmental, health, and safety solutions to all levels of the public, private, and defense sectors. ASG’s team of strategists, thought leaders, subject matter experts, and instructors have an average of 20+ years of experience in their respective fields. In meeting customers’ needs, ASG leverages thousands of lessons learned, best practices and business processes that have been synthesized over 17 years. Having conducted over 15,000 workplace audits and several thousand training and exercise events, ASG has built a solid understanding of the challenges facing both private and public sector organizations in multiple sectors. ASG’s perspective spans from the local to the global, with offices across the U.S. and throughout the world, and partnerships with municipal, state, federal, military, and private sector clients in 48 states and 17 countries. Learn more at asg-inc.org.

About the Federal Emergency Management Agency

At FEMA, we employ more than 20,000 people nationwide. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we have 10 regional offices located across the country. We leverage a tremendous capacity to coordinate within the federal government to make sure America is equipped to prepare for and respond to disasters. Our mission is helping people before, during and after disasters. Our core values and guiding principles help us achieve it. To learn more, visit fema.gov.