Introduction and project context
Appalachian State University and Fundación Universidad de Las Américas–Puebla (FUDLAP) propose to work together to implement Mexico-TIES project focused on renewable energy, energy efficiency and competitiveness under the TIES Phase IV Cycle 1 Competition. Appalachian and FUDLAP have been working together since 2003 when the two institutions signed an agreement that provides a framework for student and faculty exchanges and collaborative research activities. While most of the student and faculty exchanges that have taken place have been in the social sciences and humanities disciplines, the TIES project will provide an opportunity to expand the exchanges in the natural sciences and engineering disciplines. Appalachian has a robust renewable energy and energy efficiency program that is widely recognized nationally for the contributions made by faculty and students in the arena of energy studies and sustainable application of technology.
While Mexico advances in its aims to develop technology, find public and private investment, generate public policies and research on renewables, it is clear that educating highly qualified human resources in the area will become increasingly important for the country. Therefore, this proposal deals with a joint effort to strengthen the curricula and current capability of one of the premier private universities in Mexico as well as governmental research institutions in the generation of high quality human resources, cutting edge research and technological development in the identification, and application and use of renewable energy sources, as well as fostering the continued improvement of public policies underpinning the sustainable development of Mexico.
Project goal and objectives
The goal of this project is to promote public and private expansion of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency technologies, thereby increasing efficiency of energy use and decreasing dependence on fossil fuels in Mexico. The four objectives of this project are to:
- Increase the capacity of FUDLAP students and faculty to conduct research on, and contribute to curriculum development related to renewable energy and energy efficiency;
- Strengthen FUDLAP curriculum in renewable energy and energy efficiency so that the faculty and students are better prepared to carry out research and conduct pilot and demonstration renewable energy projects;
- Build capacity among public institutions to develop and implement energy sector policies and regulations; and
- Promote use of small scale renewable energy systems in rural communities in Mexico.
Appalachian plans to offer nine graduate scholarships to FUDLAP students (three scholarships per year) beginning with spring semester of 2010. By the end of the three-year project nine FUDLAP graduate students will have studied at Appalachian for two semesters each. FUDLAP students will come to take graduate-level courses and conduct research in Appalachian’s Department of Technology. The graduate program in the Department of Technology focuses on sustainable technologies with an emphasis on renewable energy and energy efficiency. As result of these proposed studies and research at Appalachian, FUDLAP students will receive a certificate in the renewable energy and energy efficiency field issued by Appalachian. The courses they take at Appalachian will transfer back to the home institution and count toward their Master’s degrees. As such, when they return to Mexico they will receive their MSc. degrees in Environmental Engineering with an emphasis in renewable energy and energy efficient granted by FUDLAP.
During the duration of the project, we plan to exchange 18 faculty/staff members between Appalachian and FUDLAP. We expect that three Appalachian and three FUDLAP faculty/staff members will be exchanged per year. These faculty members will be in residence at each institution for a period of 21 days to one month of teaching, conducting research, seminars, and visiting renewable energy sites in the U.S. and Mexico. Faculty/staff exchanges will greatly strength FUDLAP’s new major in alternative energies that will be incorporated into the newly established Ph.D. and masters program in environmental engineering.
Two main outreach activities are planned to build capacity among public institutions and use of renewable energies in communities in Mexico. The first outreach activity will involve organizing a renewable energy conference at FUDLAP in May/June 2010. This conference will include participants from the academy, private industry, and governmental entities to discuss new trends in alternative energy generation. We expect to attract at least 30 people to this conference. The goal would be to sensitize government officials/decision-makers to invest adequate resources in the development of renewable energies in Mexico.
As part of this project, we also plan to conduct outreach activities in rural communities in Mexico to install micro renewable energy systems. This activity will involve faculty and students at both Appalachian and FUDLAP. A select group of faculty members at both Appalachian and FUDLAP will offer joint courses in specific topics (depending on the research interest of the faculty members involved) related to renewable energy. The course sessions will be related to specific energy problems in rural areas of Mexico. Appalachian and FUDLAP students in the courses will be challenged to work in teams to develop solutions to those problems using the available renewable energy technologies. Students will meet with each other either by e-mail or video conference (one every two weeks) to work on their projects. The best solution will be selected for installation and testing in a rural community in Mexico. The winning team from Appalachian will travel to Mexico at the end of the semester to meet face-to-face with the FUDLAP team to work on the installation and testing plan. The initial field work will be carried out mainly in two rural poor communities located in isolated regions of Mexico, Los Llanos and Las Cucharas.
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Conference on a Renewable Energy Future for Mexico
UDLAP and Appalachian will hold a Conference on a Renewable Energy Future for Mexico which will take place on the UDLAP campus on March 7 - 9, 2011. The conference will focus on examining the promise of residential and community-scale renewable energy technology development in Mexico.
For more information please go to the conference website at http://renewableenergyinmexico.appstate.edu.
- Appalachian receives $300,000 grant to assist Mexican university with renewable energy and energy efficiency educational programs - University news, December 4, 2009.