Developing Innovative Solutions to Global Environmental Challenges through a Multicultural Biomimicry-based Design Thinking Approach - USI and UTP Partnership for Joint Research and Exchange
To prepare engineering students for the global workforce of the future by providing training in innovation, ideation and design thinking, cross-cultural communication, and leadership
In order to increase the University of Southern Indiana’s engagement in Panama, as well as the Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá’s engagement in the US, USI and UTP seek to establish a formal exchange agreement, building upon discussions that have taken place over the past 2 years between our institutions. We have a strong mutual interest in developing a more formal, multifaceted partnership. Funding from the 100,000 Strong Innovation Grant will enable us to run a pilot project upon which we can build.
We propose to establish a pilot program for students in Engineering, with the theme of Environment and Climate Solutions. Our focus on Engineering is two-fold: 1) to prepare engineering students for the global workforce of the future by providing training in innovation, ideation and design thinking, cross-cultural communication, and leadership and 2) to increase access to and participation in study/research abroad opportunities for underrepresented students in Engineering.
During the pilot program we will develop a formal Memorandum of Understanding between our institutions, and we envision that future mobility activity will include faculty and student exchange for teaching, learning and research. We have already begun brainstorming what these exchange opportunities will look like, including a semester-long research program for UTP students at USI, and as well as semester-long and short-term study abroad options for USI and UTP students. In addition, the pilot program will strengthen the professional network of faculty at both institutions and will lead to joint research and teaching as additional faculty “champions” are identified.
The logistical aspects of the 100,000 Strong Innovation Grant Program will be managed by USI staff in the Center for International Programs, Dr. Emi Zlatkovska, Executive Director and Ms. Melissa Gonnerman, Assistant Director, and by UTP staff in the Office of International Relations at UTP, Ms. Aris Castillo, Director. Colleagues at both institutions will oversee the program budget, travel arrangements, student scholarships, and program evaluation. They will be involved in all phases of the pilot project and are responsible for the development of future exchange activity between our institutions. These colleagues will also assist with cross-cultural communication training, leadership development, orientation, and excursions.
The academic and research component of the Program will be led by faculty from the Pott College of Science and Engineering at USI and from the College of Mechanical Engineering at UTP: Dr. Marco Lara Gracia, Associate Professor of Engineering at USI and Dr. Maria Ortega and Dr. Miguel Chen, faculty of Mechanical Engineering at UTP. They will team teach the academic components of course and supervise the students’ research projects of the pilot program, beginning in January 2022 (the Program Timeline is included as an appendix).
- Miguel Alejandro Chen Austin - Investigador Principal (IP)
- Maria De Los Ángeles Ortega (Investigador Colaborador)
- Marco A Lara Gracia (Inv. Externo)