FIU in D.C.: Education, environmental and transportation advocacy in action

FIU strives to improve STEM education, secure hurricane supplement funding and leads Everglades conservation efforts. 

Meeting the needs of Puerto Rican students 

Left to Right: Laura Dinehart, Dean Michael Heithaus, Pablo Ortiz, Jose Viana & Octavio Visiedo.

On Oct. 16, Michael  Heithaus, dean of the College of Arts, Sciences & Education, led an FIU delegation to the U.S. Department of Education to visit with senior advisers to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and address opportunities to support both Puerto Rican educational response efforts and new STEM education priorities.

“Our meetings allowed us the opportunity to present  initiatives we feel could tackle current and future educational challenges, while engaging in discussions about what the DOE sees as critical priorities,” said Laura Dinehart,  executive director of the School of Education and Human Development.

FIU has already enrolled over 200 students  who transferred from their home schools on the island.  With a greater wave of students expected at the K-12 level, FIU’s educational leaders made available their expertise in supporting school districts that may not be experienced in integrating large numbers of English language learners post-disaster.

On Oct. 24, Congress sent a $36 billion hurricane supplemental funding bill to the White House for signature. FIU is advocating for educational dollars to be added to the supplemental bill so the university can meet the needs of Puerto Rican students arriving on the mainland more effectively.

STEM Education Leadership

Additionally, the delegation presented insights on the Trump administration’s new priorities on STEM Education as released in a recent  executive memorandum by President Trump.  

FIU currently has the largest concentration of STEM Learning Assistants and produces the largest number of minority STEM grads in the U.S.  The visiting group provided insights on teacher preparation and discipline-based educational research.

While at the department, the team took the time to greet Assistant Deputy Secretary for the Office of English Language Learning Jose Viana, the highest-ranking FIU alumnus at the DOE.

Everglades Restoration at the White House 

Heithaus also  visited the White House Council on Environmental Quality earlier this month to brief advisers there on the impact of recent hurricanes to both Florida and Puerto Rico.

That opportunity allowed for a briefing on FIU work related to Everglades restoration and advocating for more rapid movement on these plans.   Heithaus  invited advisers at CEQ to visit with FIU in the next few months.

Secretary of Transportation Visits Bridge Engineering Lab   

Transportation Secretary Chao Visits FIU Engineering & Computing

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary  Elaine  Chao, alongside Congressman Mario Diaz -Balart, who is also  chairman of the House Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development,  visited the  Accelerated Bridge Construction-University Transportation Center Oct. 17.

“This visit provided an opportunity to present an overview of select activities at FIU that are having a major impact in the bridge industry in the U.S.,” said Atorod Azizinamini, chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Chao was able to experience technologies that could more rapidly and cost effectively repair current bridges, build new ones, create opportunities for the local workforce and incorporate new technologies.  They also visited  the Wall of Wind, which performs high-tech hurricane mitigation research at the FIU College of Engineering and Computing.

Left to Right: Laura Bate, Heather West, Helvetiella Longoria, Brooke Hunter

Women in Cybersecurity 

On Oct. 11, the Jack D. Gordon Institute of Public Policy  presented a dynamic conversation regarding women in cybersecurity.

The  panel was a  partnership with New America and  analyzed the benefits of increased diversity and strategies that can be implemented to promote more diversity in the cybersecurity workforce since women constitute only 11 percent of the workforce.

Learn more about the partnership between New America and FIU  here.  Watch the webcast  here.

Carlos Becerra, Miguel Mendoza, Mario Diaz-Balart, Adriana Pereira-Reyes & Ariel Roman

President Rosenberg tapped for national apprenticeships panel 

This past week the Department of Labor announced that FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg has been appointed part of a Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion as the representative of the Association of Public Land-Grant Universities. Read more about the Task Force and Rosenberg’s role  here.

Panthers Spotted

  • Adriana Pereira-Reyes, Walmart, & Ariel Roman, Israeli Consulate in Miami.
  • FIU Chief Information Security Officer Helvetiella Longoria was a panelist for Women in Cybersecurity.