Today the group awoke with the bitter~sweet taste of coffee and departure in our mouths. We ate what was to be our last breakfast together whilst soulfully gazing into our hardened traveller´s eyes. Less sentimental members of the group took this opportunity to get some extra sleep.
Next we took to the road in what can only be described as organized chaos, the great roads of Costa Rica. Today’s ride was a bit bittersweet, as it was the last time we would be making the trip to Fabio together.
Promptly upon arrival at Fabio the group began to finish the floating mat project. The final stage of the floating mat construction was to plant vetiver grass in it. Vetiver, or Chyrysopogon zizanioides is a grass native to India. This grass will be the organism that treats the water in the wetland, up-taking nutrients dissolved in the water through its submerged root system and converting them into biomass. Most groups had to loosen up their coconut fiber with water to properly plant the grass. This didn’t take too long, and everyone was glad to be done and out of the hot sun.
Soon the group was to be at my mercy. We had been reading separate articles to prepare for a ‘Jigsaw’ discussion for a few days and I would be leading the group. I have little experience teaching; however, I led the group through the jigsaw like a puzzle master.
Post jigsaw the group ate our final lunch. Afterwards we got together and discussed possible improvements to the program, and signed soccer balls for Wilberth and Alejandro. We gave Mattias his honorary hat.
Then we said goodbye, with gleaming tears in our eyes. The great journey was coming to an end..
Here are some pictures from the days activities.
As we left UCR , we left a university in another continent that is transitioning in cooperation with MSU. It is a very special opportunity to witness the creation of connections across the world, nonetheless connections with the intention of harboring a more sustainable, systems approach to engineering.
In order to make this transition from agricultural engineering to biosystems engineering, many changes have been made. For instance, many biology courses have been added to the curriculum. These include microbiology, organic chemistry, and regular biology.
UCR houses about 600 students, with 400 of those being active. Traditionally the program is five years, with four years going into a bachelors degree and a one year licensure program. The licensure typically consists of a test, or a research project. An example of a research project would be to follow up the wetland project our study abroad group conducted and make improvements upon it.
In the past the agricultural department was more focused on maximizing agricultural productions and yields, the basic goal of producing food. They now employ a wider vision, a systems approach. This includes mitigation of environmental impacts, proper use of agricultural residues, use of bio-energy, etc. Now the department is more focused on land administration, and is more involved with local governments. Areas of focus include watershed management, ecosystems services and riverbank restoration. As seen from the digester project, they are also interested in bio-energy from several sources, including industrial and municipal wastes.
Three years ago when students heard about the changes to the program they met them with resistance.
Now, bright eyed students line up to ask questions about bio-energy concentrations.
The program will be available to interested students beginning next year. MSU looks forward to more collaborations with UCR.
For more information on UCR and their Agricultural Engineering program, visit the following link http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.ingagri.ucr.ac.cr/&prev=/search%3Fq%3Ducr%2Bingenieria%2Bagricola%26hl%3Den%26safe%3Doff%26tbo%3Dd&sa=X&ei=6c72UK7dDNT9qQHMloGQDg&ved=0CDgQ7gEwAA
or here is some more general information about student life at UCR.