Information Session - Ecological Engineering in the Tropics in Costa Rica 2016

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Ecological Engineering in the Tropics (Costa Rica), December 26, 2016 – January 7, 2017 (Extended application date November 4, 2016)

Information Meetings

  • Tuesday, 11/1/2016 ~ 103 Farrall Agricultural Engineering ~ 5:30-6:00pm

Ecological Engineering in the Tropics Study Abroad (Costa Rica)

Winter Break - December 26, 2016 – January 7, 2017

(Application deadline extended to November 4, 2016)

Information Meeting
Tuesday, 11/1/2016 ~ 103 Farrall Agricultural Engineering ~ 5:30-6:00pm

The program goal is to study the engineering design, performance, installation and long term carbon and water footprints for biomass energy installations in a tropical environment.

This program seeks to help students:

  1. Understand major themes related to clean energy, water and climate and the interactions among these systems in Costa Rica as compared to the U.S.;
  2. Develop their critical, creative, design and reflective thinking skills related to clean energy, climate, water and ecosystems;
  3. Enhance their ability to interact with cultural differences, understand issues of socio-economic equity, and consider issues from diverse perspectives for engineering designs and installations;
  4. Challenge, understand, and appreciate their culture and experiences and how these areas influence their world views; and
  5. Understand the meaning of citizenship as it relates to one’s personal and professional influence on local, national, and global issues.

Program Objectives

  1. Students will use ecosystems engineering to analyze sustainability of anthropogenic systems to produce water, energy, and food.  An existing MSU/University of Costa Rica (UCR) bioenergy demonstration site and the National Electric Company (ICE) production sites will be used for academic activities.
  2. Students will design and select components of the bioenergy and ecosystem systems and will participate in select installations.  Designs will incorporate international context, material limitations, units and language; and will incorporate ecosystem services.
  3. Students will trace and account for the biomass, water, and energy footprints/lifecycles from production to post-consumption for two of three crops (bananas, pineapple or coffee) produced in Costa Rica, used in Costa Rica and/or exported to the US.
  4. Students will research, analyze and recommend engineering practices which would reduce the carbon, water and energy footprints/lifecycles of these commodities.

Expected academic and experiential student learning outcomes

MSU engineering students in partnership with peer colleagues from the UCR Biosystems Engineering department through expert lectures, industrial site visits and the MSU/UCR demonstration project design and evaluation will learn how to answer these types of engineering questions:

  1. Is biomass energy production sustainable and viable in a topical environment where biomass is abundant?   What engineering principles and designs can be used to improve energy production while maintaining a carbon-neutral and clean water footprint?
  2. What are the biomass, energy and water footprints for commodities grown primarily outside of the US for consumption in the US (e.g., bananas, pineapple and coffee)?   Students will individually select 2 of the 3 crops to complete a complete assay of the biomass, energy and water lifecycles of their selected crops from production to post-consumption.  Students will individually create an engineering design or evaluation for one of their selected crops to reduce the crop’s energy or water footprints.  How could engineering designs or evaluations be used to reduce energy and water footprints for these commodities?
  3. How does an engineer consider the social, cultural and environmental impacts of an international engineering design where language could be a barrier, materials might be limited and variables are different than in the US?
  4. What are our personal and collective responsibilities toward being global citizens and engineers?

NSF IRES Opportunity – Summer 2017 – 10 weeks paid research

Linked to this study abroad is an opportunity to spend 10 weeks during summer 2017 conducting paid research with UCR faculty supported by an NSF grant. Engineering biological sustainable solutions for clean energy and water in Costa Rica is now accepting applications (a separate application) at While participate in the study abroad is not required, some funding in the grant will support the study abroad travel.  Visit for more information.

Event Date/Time: 
Tuesday, November 1, 2016 - 5:30pm to 6:00pm
Event Location: 
103 Farrall