Students and faculty from Virginia Tech and Purdue University travel to Costa Rica

Assistant professor Henry Quesada from Virginia Tech and associate professor Eva Haviarova from Purdue University joined efforts to organize a student field trip to Costa Rica and to collaborate with the Costa Rican Forestry Office in delivering educational activities during the Spring break.

Figure 1. Students listen to biologists Jose Rojas and Oliver Castro from Costa Rica Tech during their lecture on the importance of tropical forest.
Figure 1. Students listen to biologists Jose Rojas and Oliver Castro from Costa Rica Tech during their lecture on the importance of tropical forest.

Students from both institutions signed for the course Global Issues in Sustainability. This 3 credit-hour class has as a goal to study issues impacting the sustainability of natural resources such as the forest, water, and wild life in a global context. The course includes a one-week field trip to Costa Rica where students participate in a series of experiential learning activities to understand and gain knowledge on how private businesses, government institutions and local universities work together to promote and educate current and future generations in the sustainable use of natural resources.

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RESEARCH BRIEF: Using GIS for competitive business advantage

by Melissa Brenes, MS candidate,

Recognize characteristics of clients such as where they live, their behavior, and their preferences on stores has become a necessity for companies now a days. (Badea, R. Bagu, C. Badea, A & Moises, C., 2009). Knowing that such characteristics of customers are so significant for the business, it is important to accelerate processes such as customer profiling, and profile behavior which will give the corporation a competitive advantage.

By combining conventional marketing techniques with geospatial methods enables users to picture the spatial distribution of data in maps -such as the distribution process, the market diverse- also complementing it with statistical graphs and diagrams will link  marketing and Geographical Information Systems (GIS). (Musyoka, S.M, Mutyauvyu S.M, Kiema J.B.K, Karanja F.N,  & Diriba D.N. , 2007).

With GIS Business Analysis users can better understand their organization environment information, the competition, and also improve the decision making process related to customer behavior. In addition, business analysis can build models that fit into the organization’s analysis workflow for site evaluation, market penetration, and conduct customer prospecting. (Raduj, C. 2009).

According to (Lawrence E., 2007) faculty and leaders of colleges of business apparently are not aware of GIS and its capability in helping make solid immediate business decisions, regarding site analysis, and spatial management of business activities. In a research conduct by Lawrence (2007), only 5 of 140 colleges of business have GIS courses in their curricula and just 23 of these have courses included spatial analysis. On 2007, only few curricula’s include GIS analysis as an effective business decision-making tool.

There is much work to be done not only in the academic collaborations of colleagues of business and geographic departments  in helping companies to embrace the GIS as a effective way of making decisions, develop marketing strategies, and gaining a competitive advantage in their industry sector.


  • Raduj, C. (2009) The GIS and data solutions for advanced business analysis. Economia, Seria Management. Vol. 12, No. 2, 2009.
  • Badea, R. Bagu, C. Badea, A & Moises, C. (2009) Costumer Profiling Using GIS. International DAAAM Symposium, Vol. 20, No. 1, 2009.
  • Musyoka, S.M, Mutyauvyu S.M, Kiema J.B.K, Karanja F.N,  & Diriba D.N.  (2007). Market segmentation using geographic information systems (GIS). Marketing Intelligence & Planning. Vol. 25, No. 6, 2007.
  • Lawrence E. (2007). GIS and Collegues of Business: A curricular Exploration. Journal of Real Estate Literature. Vol. 15, No. 3, 2007

Third Innovation-based Manufacturing Workshop

Participants of the II CIbM workshop participate in a innovation game directed by Dr. Chris Williams.

The Center for Innovation-based Manufacturing (CIbM) at Virginia Tech would like to invite the University community, surrounding industry, and the general community interested in learning the most recent developments in the advancement of innovation to increase and support manufacturing in Virginia.

This one-day event is focused on providing experiences and opinions of industry and faculty speakers in the development of tools, concepts, and methods for bridging ideas into commercial products. The workshop will also cover current issues limiting the advancement of manufacturing and recent policy developments to support manufacturing. The event is also the culmination stage of the student innovation competition sponsored by the CIbM.

Panelists of the II CIbM workshop answer questions from participants.


8:30 am. Jaime Camelio, Director of the Center for Innovation-based Manufacturing at Virginia Tech .

8:45 am. Erin Sparks, Senior Policy Analyst at the National Governos Association

9:30 am. Coffee break.

10:00 am. David Cochran, Director of the Center in Excellence in Systems Engineering at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.

10:45 am. Matt Jackson. Open Innovation. Engineer at Local Motors

11:30 am. Panel discussion: Tracy Wilkins (Techlab), Michael Fleming (TORC), Michael Miller (Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties, Inc) (and Matt Jackson (Local Motors)

12:15 pm. Boxed Lunch

1:15 pm. Student innovation competition

2:30 pm. Adjourn.

Location and date

The Graduate Life Center (GLC) at Virginia Tech. November 13, 2012.


Registration fee is $100. Fee is waived for members of the Virginia Tech community. For registration please follow this link


For questions or comment contact Dr. Henry Quesada at

RESEARCH BRIEF: Reducing Energy Inefficiencies Using an Energy Management System

Shawn Crawford, MS Candidate at Virginia Tech Department of Sustainable Biomaterials. Contact Shawn at

Petroleum (oil) is the largest U.S. primary energy consumption followed by natural gas, coal, nuclear electric power, and renewable energy (EIA, 2011). Electricity is a secondary energy sources produced by these sources. Some of the main energy consumers in the U.S. are residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation. Industry accounts for one-third of the energy used in the country, 28% of that energy comes from natural gas and 14 % comes from electricity (EIA, 2009). Electrical demand growth is projected to increase at about 1% per year through 2035, while from 2005 to 2009 cents per kilowatthour increased by 1.24 (EIA, 2009). Due to a continually increasing demand for energy sources and a limited supply of those sources, energy prices are expected to increase (EnerNoc, 2011).

Figure 1. Electricity consumption over a 6 day period in a manufacturing facility

 Energy Management System (EMS)

An Energy Management System or EMS provides a company constant data feedback on their energy consumption. Depending on the type of EMS, energy consumption can be tracked all the way down to 5 min intervals. The more detailed the EMS the greater potential for improvements. Imagine and EMS that provides a company’s natural gas consumption every hour as opposed to a power company providing the information monthly. Some benefits of an EMS include; being able separate consumption rates, able to identify high consuming areas, able to make daily adjustments to improve monthly bill, automated system automatically manages/adjust to improve energy inefficiencies, and able to create new process improvements to increase efficient energy use. Figure 1 shows a snapshot of an EMS.

Managing Energy and Process

Fostering innovation and creativity should be an ongoing project for managers. An EMS provides the tools for a manager to take employee innovation and put it to the test. Innovative employees provide solutions to ongoing problems associated with the business, finances, process, and product, because they are the experts at their job/task. Providing employees with real time feedback showing how their improvements have helped to save money motivates employees to continually improve. This is crucial in sustaining an atmosphere of continuous improvement.

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Applying Business Process Management to a Public Water Management Company

Dr. Henry Quesada delivers a CI training in Costa Rica

Increasing demand for drinkable water and proper sewer systems are the main drivers for utilities companies to look for different approaches to better manage their organizations. A better management of the organization’s assets could lead to an increase in customer satisfaction levels and also to an increase in productivity. In recent times public managed companies have realized the value of continuous improvement (CI) methodologies such as six sigma or lean management because of their positive impact and connection with the organization’s strategic goals. CI methodologies help organizations to achieve significant levels of success by performing small incremental changes in their processes, products, or organizational structures. These small changes are in most cases preferred because they slowly permeate into the organization’s culture and structure and avoid radical changes and potential high risk.

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