Materials Research Science and Engineering Center
Nexus of Engineering and Societal Needs
Partnership between Harvard & UTEC (Lima, Peru)

Hands on Convergent Engineering Solutions

Presented with the grand challenge to develop innovative solutions to pressing problems hindering the most impoverished segments of Peruvian society, MRSEC faculty, spearheaded by Vlassak (top), established a partnership with the Universidad de Ingenieria and Tecnologia (UTEC) in Lima. UTEC students come to Harvard to study design principles, and learn laboratory skills that span environmental science, materials science, robotics, bioengineering, and mechanical engineering. In return, a team of Harvard faculty and students spend time in January at UTEC (lower left) and work together with their peers doing convergence research in impoverished areas and mercury reclamation at illegal mining sites in the Amazon basin. Many of these hands-on field studies were carried out in remote indigenous communities that can only be reached by river (lower right). The student teams are using discoveries from the Center in the development of educational kits for schools and remote areas. This has already been both a scientific and cultural revelation for both groups of students. The peer-to-peer and community interactions are imbuing these students with a rich understanding of the future of work at the Human-Technology Frontier.

Joost J. Vlassak (Materials Science)
Harvard MRSEC (DMR-1420570)