Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the Louisiana Economic Development grant during an event Friday that celebrated Waitr’s new downtown headquarters.
Dr. Carolina CruzThe woman known worldwide as a pioneer in the virtual reality field will lead the Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise as its chief scientist. Administrators at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette along with the Lafayette Economic Development Authority and state government welcomed Dr. Carolina Cruz to campus Tuesday during a media reception.
She will be responsible for building research teams and developing projects among other duties for LITE – a $20 million facility in University Research Park that will house state-of-the-art immersive visualization and supercomputing technologies, which include a six-sided digital virtual reality cube, a 175-seat auditorium, and several immersive teleconferencing rooms. These systems will be powered by one of the fastest supercomputers in the world.
“ The hiring of this high caliber leader in the field of virtual reality reaffirms UL Lafayette’s commitment to economic development in this community and state,” said UL Lafayette President Ray Authement. “We are sending a message that we are invested in this progressive community and ready to help maximize its economic potential.”
Cruz formerly held the Stanley Chair in Interdisciplinary Engineering at Iowa State University where she was a professor in the Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering Department. She is also the founder and Vice President of Business Development for Infiscape – a privately held software services corporation.
“ Carolina’s arrival at LITE validates our desire to demonstrate to the world that Lafayette, Louisiana, is a technology hub and is a place where the most advanced technologies are deployed,” said LEDA President Gregg Gothreaux. “It is encouraging to LEDA to know that she places a high value on business development and economic development activities, and we are excited she has chosen Lafayette.”
Worldwide, Cruz is known for her work in virtual reality. Her Ph.D. dissertation included the design of the CAVE Virtual Reality Environment, the CAVE Library software specifications and implementation, and preliminary research on CAVE-Supercomputing integration. She was instrumental in the construction of the first CAVES in the U.S. including one for General Motors, another at Argonne National Laboratories and one at Iowa State University.
“ This is a wonderful next step in my career,” said Cruz. “This facility is certainly one of the top five big players in its field both nationally and internationally. It’s the only one that integrates visualization and supercomputing. It’s ‘the place’to be in that respect.”
Her long term goal is to position LITE as a unique facility offering the integration of visualization and supercomputing. She plans to focus on sectors like healthcare and oil and gas.
Administrators also hope Cruz’ celebrity will help recruit top companies and researchers to LITE. “She is well-known in her field and people are watching her moves,” said Dr. Bob Stewart, vice president for Research and Graduate Studies at UL Lafayette. “Researchers and collaborators are going to want to learn more about LITE just because a leader like Dr. Cruz is here.”
In addition to recruiting far and wide for the facility, Cruz also wants to welcome the Lafayette community. A long-range plan is have a fixed schedule where the community is invited to the facility much like an open house.
“ My three major overall directions will be research, economic development and community outreach,” said Cruz. “I basically want everyone to know that high technology is available here at LITE in Lafayette.”
LITE (Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise) is a groundbreaking research complex featuring a comprehensive set of advanced visualization systems including the world's largest 3D theatre and one of the world's first six-sided digital 3D immersive rooms. Powered by a highly integrated concentration of graphics supercomputer-class servers, and high-speed networking, LITE's data visualization environments afford organizations of all sizes the means to transform the process of innovation and accelerate their time to discovery. LITE is a partnership with the State of Louisiana, University of Louisiana at Lafayette and Lafayette Economic Development Authority (LEDA) for the purpose of economic development. LITE serves clients in the commercial industry, government, and university sectors. For more information please visit www.thelite.org.