Nova Southeastern Univ. Wins $1.94M In National Defense Authorization Act Community Projects

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Fort Lauderdale, FL — March 22, 2022 — Nova Southeastern University (NSU) has been awarded $1.94 million in National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Community Projects Funding (CPF), as requested by Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz for the full year 2022. The funding is specifically dedicated to adding emerging technology equipment to the Alan B. Levan | NSU Broward Center of Innovation’s (“Levan Center”) current offerings, primarily focused on the buildout of their volumetric motion capture studio and the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Laboratory located within their technology makerspace.

“These funds allow us to truly position the Levan Center as “THE” engine powering South Florida’s innovation ecosystem,” said John Wensveen, Ph.D., NSU’s Chief Innovation Officer and Executive Director of the Levan Center. “This is a significant opportunity for the Levan Center to officially plant the spatial computing and artificial intelligence flags in South Florida. The vol cap studio will be the first of its kind in South Florida providing a needed resource for our collision station model supporting entrepreneurs, academia, industry, and government partners which will be complimented by programs for new skills, upskilling, and reskilling in the areas of augmented, virtual, and mixed realities. The AI Lab will consist of a Smart Cities space supporting the South Florida region with state-of-the-art technologies utilized to grow the Smart City concept. Additional spaces will provide infrastructure supporting machine learning, robotics, and autonomous technologies as examples.”

The volumetric capture studio will be outfitted with leading edge technologies where raw content (holographic video) is produced and digital tools are applied in a post-production environment. The holographic video is then inserted into different environments where the audience can interact with holograms in augmented reality, virtual reality, and on 2D screens. The easiest way to explain this emerging technology is to imagine a purpose-built studio space acting as a stage that is surrounded by multiple cameras that collect video and audio content. Computer vision algorithms are then used to create a textured 3D mesh per frame that is then processed and compressed into a file format capable of being played on cross-platform devices. This type of technology can be applied to any environment imaginable and is the future of simulation and scenario-based experiences for industry, entertainment, training and more NDAA CPF is a new initiative started in FY22 that allows Members of Congress to request direct funding for projects that benefit the communities they represent. NSU’s request for funding was one of 10 submitted by Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz for Florida’s 23rd congressional district, with the requesting community organizations ranging across sectors including healthcare, education, energy, water safety, and more.

NSU will utilize these much-needed funds to target entrepreneurs, academic, industry and government support partners to expand South Florida’s infrastructure in the areas of spatial computing, artificial intelligence, robotics, and cybersecurity. The equipment provided by these funds allows the Levan Center to expand the AI Smart Cities Lab providing a valuable resource to plan and construct smart cities including applications associated with design, build, test. Additionally, the funds will assist in building out their volumetric motion capture studio which will allow for the creation and use of holographic video across various disciplines.

“South Florida is on an accelerated path to becoming a nationally-ranked technology hub and the Levan Center is an important catalyst linking the South Florida innovation ecosystem for the advancement of breakthrough ideas, creation of new technologies, development of a talent skills pipeline to support emerging tech opportunities, company formation, job creation, and scaling of early-stage and young startup companies,” said Wensveen.

The Levan Center’s wide breath of technology is a resource for entrepreneurs at all stages of the founder’s journey, training individuals in areas such as AI/machine learning, spatial computing, data analytics, blockchain and UX/UI Design. It provides access to humanoid robots and manufacturing robots, 3D printers, AR/VR headsets, 3D Scanners, high performance computers, and access to the 100 Gigabitsper-second (Gbps) Florida LambdaRail network.

The Levan Center officially opened the 54,000 sq. ft. purpose-built facility last September and the funding from CPF could not have come at a better time. Given its mission to serve the South Florida community with programming aimed at fostering an innovation mindset, generating and upskilling local talent, catalyzing interdisciplinary collaboration within academia and between academia and the private sector, and creating a hub for the advancement of South Florida’s innovation ecosystem, the CPF dollars, and the support of Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz, will greatly assist in positioning the Levan Center as the economic and education development engine for South Florida.

The Levan Center’s goal is to develop, nurture and attract innovation and talent that will propel the South Florida Region (Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach Counties) into the foremost hub in the country’s global tech and innovation ecosystem – and the additional resources brought about through CPF helps to do just that. As a gateway and connector between entrepreneurs, academia, industry, government, investors, wraparound service providers, and professional networks in the region, the Levan Center links the South Florida community with access to early-stage and young-startup companies, corporate partners, mentors, a technology-focused makerspace, a military-grade cybersecurity range, media production studio, pitch space, and customized programs to propel economic development.