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Automated Drawbridge, Traffic Monitoring System among Cutting-Edge Projects Created at MDC’s Innovative Engineering Program and New Research Lab


MDC Faculty and Students at the Prestigous School of Engineering and Technology

Miami, June 24, 2013 - Imagine a fully automated drawbridge system that doesn’t require a human operator or a mobile phone app that helps detect skin cancer at the click of a button. Within just a few years, Miami Dade College’s (MDC) new computing research lab has become a sought-after research incubator where students are encouraged to dream big and are given the tools to bring their cutting-edge ideas to life.

In addition to the model drawbridge system and skin cancer detector app, students have developed prototypes for Android-powered cellphone apps that amplify sound for the hearing impaired and automatically decode colors on small electrical devices (resistors) for colorblind technicians. Another project in the works is a real-time, solar powered traffic monitoring system that has caught the attention of the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX) for future use.

“The goal of engineering is to solve problems and help humanity progress,” said MDC’s School of Engineering and Technology Chair Dr. Miguel Alonso, who started the research lab in 2010 with a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to recruit, retain, and help progress underrepresented students at Hispanic-Serving Institutions in engineering and computing careers. “What we are trying to do is level the playing field to make sure the engineering and information technology fields have equal representation of all people,” said Dr. Alonso, who joined MDC’s faculty nearly seven years ago after working at Beckman-Coulter and General Electric. “It’s important to shape students into well-rounded scholars, who can defend their ideas and theories. I never say no to an idea, and I hold them to a very high standard.”

The grant funds lab equipment and six student research stipends each semester.  The majority of students in the research program are of Hispanic or Caribbean descent, which reflects MDC’s legacy of giving students of all walks of life access to quality education and lucrative careers in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

Located at MDC’s Kendall Campus, the lab has become a place where students mull over ideas and engage in peer-led learning groups. Students have presented their projects and won awards at STEM competitions and conferences around the country. Whether in the research lab or class, engineering students are challenged to be disciplined, self-motivated and innovative.

“I definitely feel like I’ve accomplished a lot,” said Robert Glazebrook, who constructed the fully automated drawbridge model along with fellow student Sergio Padilla and hopes to obtain a patent. Glazebrook earned two associate degrees from MDC, and decided to pursue his bachelors in electronics engineering at the college because of the learning environment. “With the opportunities that Miami Dade provided and my desire to do my best, I am set up for the future and prepared for any job,” he said.

For more information, contact MDC’s School of Engineering at 305-237-3676 or Dr. Miguel Alonso at

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