BROWNSVILLE, Texas – The dean of the college of engineering and computer science at UT-Rio Grande Valley says a unique collaboration currently developing in Brownsville is going to help the region grow even faster.

Dr. Ala Qubbaj gave The Rio Grande Guardian International News Service an exclusive video interview following a news conference that was held to announce that UTRGV’s office of workforce and economic development is the recipient of the latest BTX grant from the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation (GBIC).  

The grant is worth $210,000 and it will help fund research for Future SQC Software to develop virtual reality/artificial intelligence software using geo-referencing points to display data on a phone or virtual reality headsets to speed up and secure processes in manufacturing. Through an internship program, UTRGV students will help do the research.

“Our role in the university is to prepare the talent, to prepare the workforce, and we work with industry to make sure that those students have the skills needed to meet these new jobs. So those internships that companies provide is really critical for our students,” Qubbaj said.

“And if we can keep those very smart students in the Rio Grande Valley that will make things really amazing and the Valley will grow and companies will bring more companies, jobs will bring more jobs, new businesses. The Valley is experiencing exponential growth. It is going to grow even faster.”

In the interview, Qubbaj said he “loves” the partnership that is developing between UTRGV, the City of Brownsville, Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation, GBIC, and the new companies coming into the eBridge Center for Business & Commercialization via UTRGV’s Global Soft Landing Program.

“I love this partnership because sometimes we tend to work in silos. But this is an example of a project where academia, where the private sector, private industry and the city is coming together to create jobs, to provide opportunities for the students,” Qubbaj said.

“This is what is exciting about it. It is a partnership for the purpose of providing those opportunities. The university has a role to play. We can educate the students, we can provide them the trainings, but we need the help of the private sectors and the community and economic development to bring those high paying jobs for those students. This way we can make the difference in social mobility, because if we bring students and they don’t graduate, that’s not good. But also, if they graduate and they cannot find high paying jobs, then that’s not good. 

“So that’s why this partnership is really critical. It is complementing our role at UTRGV, mainly by providing more opportunities for our students. So this way we can keep the talent in the Rio Grande Valley, create more jobs, more economic development, and more growth for our region.”

Qubbaj added: “I’m excited about the future. The future is so bright for UTRGV and for the RGV. This is one of the best times we have in the RGV, to work together and build that amazing future for our children and for the future.”

Here is the video interview with Dr. Qubbaj:


Editor’s Note: The above video news story is the first in a four-part series on GBIC awarding a BTX Grant to UTRGV’s workforce and economic development department. Part Two, featuring the perspective of Future SQC Software, will appear in our next edition.

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