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Global STEM in Costa Rica

What is like to work in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)? How does globalization impact STEM careers, companies, and products? A proposed course under development in the College of Science and Engineering Technology will examine these topics in future summer terms through an experiential learning course in Costa Rica.

In June of 2018, Dr. Peter Cooper, Chair of the Department of Computer Science and Dean John Pascarella were invited to visit with administrators from Fidelitas University, a private university located in Costa Rica. Fidelitas University has campuses in San Jose and Heredia, Costa Rica, and offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in Science, Engineering and Business. Dr. Roberto Rodriguez, Chancellor, Dr. Gabriel Rodriguez, Director of the Office of Global Strategy, and Dr. Emmanuel Fernandez, Associate Provost for Academic Affairs and Research, were our hosts.

During the visit, we visited four private STEM companies, including two medical device manufacturers (Boston Scientific and Tegra Medical), a software company (VMWare), and a construction company (Productos de Concreto) to learn about their business and to develop a course that would introduce students to the nature of working in the global STEM field.

Dr. Roberto Rodriguez, Dr. Peter Cooper, Dr. John Pascarella, and Dr. Gabriel Rodriguez at Productos de Concreto, Heredia, Costa Rica.
The Concrete Plant makes a variety of products. Shown here are pallets, each containing all of the concrete posts and panels needed to construct a small house.
The company also installs their precast structures in larger commercial building projects such as this office park.

Productos de Concreto is a large precast concrete manufacturing company that also does some installation of their products at the commercial scale. We toured their plant in Heredia that made a wide variety of blocks, panels, tubes, piers, beams, and other products. Most impressive was the casting facility for panels and posts used in the construction of small concrete houses that are affordable in the Central American markets of Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama.

Dr. Gabriel Rodrigues, Dr. Emmanuel Fernandez, Dr. Peter Cooper, Dr. John Pascarella, and Dr. Roberto Rodriguez at the Boston Scientifc plant in the Coyol Free Trade Zone, Costa Rica.

Boston Scientific makes a variety of medical products and has two plants in the Free Trade Zones of Costa Rica.

Dr. Gabriel Rodrigues, Dr. Peter Cooper, Dr. John Pascarella, Dr. Roberto Rodriguez, and Dr. Emmanuel Fernandez, at the Tegra Medical plant in the Global Park Free Trade Zone, Costa Rica.

Tegra Medical does design, prototyping, validation, and manufacturing of medical devices in both plastic and metal.

VMWare is a major software company with HQ in Palo Alto, California and has a global presence.

Part of Fidelitas Heredia campus.
Dr. Peter Cooper in the Civil Engineering Lab at Fidelitas University.

Fidelitas University would assist with providing lodging for the students with Costa Rican host families during the course, arrange transportation to the businesses and the university, and provide space at the campuses for class and lab activities. Excursions to visit the Costa Rican volcanoes, beaches, and rain forests, as well as language instruction and cultural activities would also be scheduled. We hope to have further announcements pending curriculum and international approvals in spring 2019 about this course.

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John Pascarella
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John Pascarella

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