Introduction to Sustainable Engineering and Latin American Culture

This 3-credit experiential learning course gives Energy Systems Engineering and Facilities Engineering students a first-hand look at how Costa Rica has used their natural resources to develop a sustainable community at both the local and national level.  By visiting EARTH University (Escuela de Agricultura de la Region Tropical Humeda) in the tropical rain forests of Costa Rica, students will learn how this tropical community is balancing the preservation of their natural resources with agricultural and energy needs of their societies.  A large portion of this class will focus on the myriad of ways power is generated for the community, from traditional hydropower to renewable energy sources.

Class body wearing hardhats in the hydro-electric power plant control room

The best part is, this class is taught in Costa Rica in January/February.  The first year of the trip, New England received upward of 2 feet of snow while we had 90 Fahrenheit weather and gobs of sun!  That alone makes this class amazing!

Students will have a chance to engage in an immersive cultural exchange with the people of Costa Rica.  There is more to engineering design than just technical performance.  It also has to be balanced with the localities social, societal, environmental, and economic concerns.

During the class, students will have a myriad of experiences in the tropical paradise that is Costa Rica.  Visits to hydroelectic dams, geothermal power plants, rocket companies, and local farming communities are included in the course.  There are also plenty of lesure activities including beach visits, ziplining, rain forest hikes, and individual white water rafting.  These are only some of the experiences you will have during the class.  Check out the pages for the previous years to see what awaits you in Costa Rica.  The trips are slightly different every year, but they are always amazing.

Do not take my word for it.  Below is a video of students talking about their experiences in Costa Rica during the middle and at the end of the trip.  There are more interview videos like this for each student on the Media pages for each trip.

And here are a couple of student made videos (one of the required assignments for the course) detailing thier experiences during the class.  These are just a few of the videos.  The Media pages for each trip have the full list of the student videos.  Check them out to get a great view of what the class looks like from the student's perspective.

You can take a look at the planning for this year's class as well as the history of each year's trip in the menu bar to the left.  Pura Vida!