ASU has made it a priority to further its relationship with neighboring Mexico. ASU President Michael Crow has led two trips to Mexico in 2013 and 2014 to help deepen the growing ties between U.S., Mexico and other Latin American countries in education and innovation. Below is a quote from President Crow from ASU News about the importance of developing collaboration with Mexico:
“We share a border and many common interests with Mexico,” President Crow said. “It’s natural that we seek stronger ties through education, research and innovation so we can help each other prepare for the challenges and the changing nature of the advanced workforce of the 21st century.”
One of the common interests that Mexico and ASU share is the need to address the challenge of transitioning into a renewable energy future. Last May, President Crow signed an institutional MOU with Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) and agreed to work together on renewable energy initiatives, especially solar. During August 26-29, 2014, LightWorks hosted a three-part UNAM Energy Research Series in which research experts from UNAM presented lectures to ASU students, faculty, and staff about the current energy sphere in Mexico and ways in which ASU can further identify specific projects to implement together.
Day 1: “Solar Energy Research in Mexico: Examples from the Instituto de Energias Renovables” by Antonio del Rio.
Dr. Antonio del Rio, director of Instituto de Energias Renovables at UNAM, generated a discussion about solar energy research and the potential for collaboration with ASU on bi-national projects. Dr. del Rio noted UNAM being multi-disciplined and having similar goals to LightWorks in regards to establishing renewable energy projects that not only drive knowledge and technology, but also create business to and for society.
Day 2: “Engineering Research to Better Society: Examples from the Institute of Engineering–UNAM” by Adalberto Noyola.
Dr. Adalberto Noyola, director of the Institute for Engineering at UNAM, spotlighted the Institute of Engineering of UNAM’s mission to contribute national development and well-being to Mexican society through environmental engineering projects. Dr. Noyola highlighted several projects including research in climate change and natural disasters, incorporation of renewable energy into the Mexican power system, and establishing energy efficient buildings in Mexico. Dr. Noyola expressed UNAM’s continuing interest of looking at solutions that are based on sustainability, which is an aspect he sees prevalent at ASU.
Day 3: “Electrical Research in a Developing Country: A Social Innovation?” by José Luis Fernández Zayas.
Dr. Fernández Zayas, executive director of the Institute for Electrical Research in Mexico, spotlighted opportunities for international cooperation between universities and the industrial sector. Dr. Zayas focused his discussion on the rising social and environmental need for establishing renewable energy in Mexico and beyond. Dr. Zayas pointed out that thousands of young people are interested in innovative renewable energy programs and he hopes that ASU and UNAM will be able to provide access to new student programs in the future.
The path toward driving renewable energy technologies, policy, and education is not easy. It can, however, be made simpler through leveraging mutual capacities and addressing common challenges with likeminded institutions. As we move forward, LightWorks anticipates reaching out to UNAM to further develop the bi-national lab in order to clear a pathway toward our goal.
Written by Gabrielle Olson, ASU LightWorks