Jorge Cueto was running a successful consulting and construction
company in Bogota, Colombia, and teaching civil engineering in a
university five years ago, but he felt the need to do more.
“I wrote on the application for the Fulbright scholarship
what I was trying to do. I was looking for something new, but I
didn’t know what it was,” he said.
He won the scholarship, and by coincidence—one of his
favorite professors in Bogota had graduated from the University at
Buffalo—he came to UB. After finishing his master’s and
PhD degrees, Cueto recently won the SEAS Outstanding Young Alumnus
The award is a recognition of outstanding contributions to his
career field and comes after a long struggle to win support for his
invention: a telescoping structural system. Cueto devised a
patent-pending system of telescoping rectangular fiber-reinforced
concrete boxes that he hopes will be the basis for “rise on
demand” ﬂood walls. The walls can be installed below
ground level, so as not to block any water views, and can be raised
when the threat of ﬂooding occurs.
His invention, called Smart Walls, won a $225,000 Small Business
Innovation Research grant from the National Science Foundation. He
had earlier won $8,000 from UB’s Entrepreneurial Lab to get
the project going.
In an interesting twist, Cueto’s advisors, Andre
Filiatrault and Amjad Aref, both professors in the Department of
Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, are now
consultants with his company. Filiatrault notes, "With this NSF
grant, Amjad and I are working for him now."