Eduardo Divo ‘98PhD decided to attend UCF on a whim. Although he had offers from prestigious universities such as RPI and MIT, he had a hunch that UCF would be a better fit. That hunch paid off. Nearly 30 years later, Divo has built a rich and rewarding history with the institution that gave him his doctoral degree. He started his career as a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering before becoming a faculty member, and now, a supporter and partner of the UCF biomedical engineering program.
“I went through the entire cycle at UCF, so I understand the organization from many different perspectives,” Divo says. “I really enjoyed UCF so much that even after I left I maintained a joint appointment for several years.”
In 2011, Divo left UCF and in 2017 he became chair of the mechanical engineering department at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, where he now serves as senior associate dean for the College of Engineering. But what hasn’t changed is his unwavering support for the biomedical engineering program and his research partnership with Professor Alain Kassab.
When Divo sat in his first class at UCF, he had no way of knowing that his instructor, Kassab, would become his long-time research partner and mentor. But after he filled up an entire notebook in just one class, Divo knew that Kassab had to be his doctoral advisor.
Since that time, Kassab and Divo have worked closely together on several research projects focused on cardiovascular defects. Their most recent research aims to correct the issues that arise from pediatric Fontan surgery, which attempts to improve blood flow in babies born with only one fully functioning ventricle. Since the survival rate among Fontan patients is low, Divo, Kassab and the rest of their research team – which includes alumnus Ray Prather and College of Medicine Professor William DeCampli – have created a device that extracts energy from the functioning ventricle to passively power the affected sections of the circulation and improve patients’ survivability rates.
Over the years, the research team has published impactful papers and garnered several grants for this work from the American Heart Association, Additional Ventures and the Children’s Heart Foundation.
Biomedical and Aerospace Engineering Converge
Although Divo’s research is centered in biomedical engineering, the former MAE faculty member started the current chapter of his career at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, a school that’s known for aerospace engineering. ERAU brought Divo’s expertise to their school with the goal of beginning its own biomedical engineering program. He’s already implemented a bioengineering minor, created a biomedical engineering track within the mechanical engineering degree, and hired faculty with expertise in the area, including UCF mechanical engineering alumnus Victor Huayamave ’08 ‘10MS ‘15PhD.
Throughout his career, Divo has received many awards for his research and teaching, including the 2014 Educator of the Year Award from Great Minds in STEM. But his greatest reward comes from supporting students and encouraging them to pursue careers in biomedical engineering.