digital development

University of Houston moves in on industrial metaverse with new partnership

UH — along with some industry partners — has announced plans to work on applications for the industrial metaverse. Image via Getty Images

The University of Houston is helping advance the industrial metaverse.

UH has teamed up with the AI Innovation Consortium, software company Nvidia, and oil and gas engineering and services company TechnipFMC to create applications for the industrial metaverse. The project is affiliated with the Artificial Intelligence Industry Incubator and Digital Oilfield Lab at UH’s campus in Sugar Land. The incubator and lab opened in 2020.

As VentureBeat defines it, the industrial metaverse can transform the way every physical asset — such as a building, plane, robot, or car — is created, assembled, and operated. The industrial metaverse marries the “real world” with technology such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, cloud computing, edge computing, the internet of things (IoT), 5G, and extended reality (virtual, augmented, and mixed reality).

Global revenue for the industrial metaverse is projected to reach $540 billion by 2025. A key fixture of the industrial metaverse are “digital twins,” which are virtual replicas of physical entities or systems (such as factories).

Adam Berg, manager of learning solutions at TechnipFMC, has been working with the UH College of Technology and the AI Innovation Consortium to test an augmented reality program for management of upstream resources. TechnipFMC is a pioneer in extended reality.

One of the UH professors participating in this effort is David Crawley, professor of practice at the university’s College of Technology and a trustee of the AI Innovation Consortium. Last year, the consortium hosted an AI conference at the UH campus in Sugar Land. The consortium is a think tank whose members include UH, Pennsylvania State University, Louisiana State University, and the University of Louisville (Kentucky).

Crawley says the consortium’s “academic ecosystem” is critical to developing the workforce of the future.

Konrad Konarski, chairman of the consortium, says the group is building the world’s largest portfolio of industrial metaverse apps for the oilfield services industry and various manufacturing sectors.

“This means a maintenance manager, an operations technology expert, or whoever is responsible for a metaverse technology project will be able to pick up an augmented reality platform or a wearable computer, or simply a smartphone, and seamlessly interconnect their real-world operating environment to and from the metaverse,” Konarski, an AI and IoT expert, says in a news release.

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Building Houston


Baylor College of Medicine's Lillie and Roy Cullen Tower is set to open in 2026. Rendering courtesy of BCM

Baylor College of Medicine has collected $100 million toward its $150 million fundraising goal for the college’s planned Lillie and Roy Cullen Tower.

The $100 million in gifts include:

  • A total of $30 million from The Cullen Foundation, The Cullen Trust for Health Care, and The Cullen Trust for Higher Education.
  • $12 million from the DeBakey Medical Foundation
  • $10 million from the Huffington Foundation
  • More than $45 million from members of Baylor’s Board of Trustees and other community donors, including the M.D. Anderson Foundation, the Albert and Margaret Alkek Foundation, and The Elkins Foundation.

“The Cullen Trust for Health Care is very honored to support this building along with The Cullen Foundation and The Cullen Trust for Higher Education,” Cullen Geiselman Muse, chair of The Cullen Trust for Health Care, says in a news release. “We cannot wait to see what new beginnings will come from inside the Lillie and Roy Cullen Tower.”

The Baylor campus is next to Texas Medical Center’s Helix Park, a 37-acre project. Rendering courtesy of BCM

The Lillie and Roy Cullen Tower is set to open in 2026. The 503,000-square-foot tower is the first phase of Baylor’s planned Health Sciences Park, an 800,000-square-foot project that will feature medical education and research adjacent to patient care at Baylor Medicine and Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center on the McNair Campus.

The Baylor campus is next to Texas Medical Center’s Helix Park, a 37-acre project that will support healthcare, life sciences, and business ventures. Baylor is the anchor tenant in the first building being constructed at Helix Park.

“To really change the future of health, we need a space that facilitates the future,” says Dr. Paul Klotman, president, CEO, and executive dean of Baylor. “We need to have a great building to recruit great talent. Having a place where our clinical programs are located, where our data scientists are, next to a biotech development center, and having our medical students all integrated into that environment will allow them to be ready in the future for where healthcare is going.”

In the 1940s, Lillie and Roy Cullen and the M.D. Anderson Foundation were instrumental in establishing the Texas Medical Center, which is now the world’s largest medical complex.

“Baylor is the place it is today because of philanthropy,” Klotman says. “The Cullen family, the M.D. Anderson Foundation, and the Albert and Margaret Alkek Foundation have been some of Baylor’s most devoted champions, which has enabled Baylor to mold generations of exceptional health sciences professionals. It is fitting that history is repeating itself with support for this state-of-the-art education building.”

The Cullen Foundation donated $30 million to the project. Rendering courtesy of BCM

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