The President’s Award for Global Learning empowers students and faculty to examine real-world interdisciplinary topics while incorporating in-country learning into the classroom experience. This guest post recaps the experiences of the 2021-2022 team that explored sustainability in the Galápagos Islands. Students are invited to apply for the 2022-2023 projects in Kenya and Peru by November 1.
With a President’s Award for Global Learning, School of Architecture Professor David Heymann and Cockrell School of Engineering’s Architectural Engineering Professor Gregory Brooks and Construction Project Management Professor Dr. Fernanda Leite led three multi-disciplinary teams of UT Austin undergraduates on research into sustainable construction in the Galápagos islands of Ecuador.
The students examined privately financed solar microgrids; alternatives to concrete blocks fabricated from the islands’ plastic waste; and the water cycle and alternatives for capture and treatment. They collaborated with engineers at Buro Happold and with University of San Francisco Quito Professors Maria Isabel Paz and Dr. Andrés Pazmiño, through whom relationships were established with many stakeholders in the Galápagos.
The teams made two research trips to the archipelago, the first for project input over spring break. Refined projects were presented in Spanish to stakeholders during a second research trip in July, for which School of Architecture Professor Aleksandra Jaeschke joined as a mentor. Final projects will be shared with stakeholders after the Fall 2022 term.
Distributed Solar Power: Sarah Bryant (Architecture), Katrina Fierro (Architectural Engineering), David Ledesma (Architecture) and Olivia Parker (Computer Engineering/Plan II)
Sustainable Construction Materials: Bianca Busogi (Biochemistry, Plan II Honors), Katherine Ospina (International Relations, Sociology), Carmen Whitten (Architecture) and Sarah Wildenstein (Civil Engineering)
Water and Circular Economy: Carole-Lynna Benhamou (Environmental Science, Biology), Mariana Mercado (Architectural Engineering), Eduardo Terrazas (Architecture, Urban Studies), and Justin Zhang (Business Honors, Finance)