Program News

UGA-MEXICO TIES SYMPOSIUM HIGHLIGHTS NEW SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIES

From UGA Columns
May 19, 2008
By Alan Flurry

The need for new sources of bioenergy, the potential for rural economic development and threats of environmental degradation are uniting educators across North America.

The U.S. Agency for International Development is sponsoring a partnership between UGA and several universities in Mexico to promote research into sustainable development practices in the agricultural sector. Last month, the partners held a symposium on campus. Integral to industries that connect the U.S. and Mexico, the one-day meeting brought together faculty and students from UGA and Mexico working in specific areas of waste management and biofuel production in the poultry and livestock industries.

Established in June 2007 under a Higher Education Development grant awarded under the USAID Training, Internships, Exchanges and Scholarships Initiatives (also known as TIES), the partnership has provided an innovative new outreach mechanism for UGA expertise in engineering processes and technology, and agricultural economics. Building opportunities for advancing new products and techniques into the complexity of issues surrounding waste management and energy production in the livestock industry, the partnership is a demand-driven, interdisciplinary program of training and technical support for faculty and students.

"The idea behind the project is that through education we provide an opportunity for development in all parts of the world, and along with that we develop connections between peoples and nations," said K.C. Das, engineering professor and co-director of the project, in his opening remarks at the symposium.

The symposium featured faculty from several universities in Mexico, including Nagamani Balagurusamy, the co-director of the project for Mexico from one of its premier institutions, the Universidad Autonoma de Coahuila.

"We want to develop a system based on technical expertise developed here in Georgia," Balagurusamy said. "We can learn from it, modify, adopt and apply new techniques in Mexico to increase the competitiveness of the livestock sector."

Student interns from Mexico have been at UGA since February gaining valuable experience in several research areas including the processing of poultry litter for biofuel production. In June, they will return to their home institutions, primarily in the Laguna region of Mexico, to share their progress with colleagues and continue their work in localities connected to the universities. The project is highlighting UGA research and instruction opportunities for new pools of potential students and opening up new, collaborative industry and university partners for faculty.

"The primary goal of the partnership is education, and creating opportunities for educating younger people for the future workforce is a key objective on both our sides," Das said.