Ecuadorian students gain research experience in Nebraska summer program
Five students from Yachay Tech, a recently opened university in Ecuador, spent 10 weeks this summer at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln working on projects with College of Engineering faculty as part of the inaugural UNL-Yachay Summer Research Experience.
Yachay Tech University, which opened its doors in 2014, is part of the Yachay project by the Ecuadorian government to establish a hub for technological innovation and knowledge-intensive businesses. The university currently has about 1,500 students in six programs, including one for engineering and one for science and technology.
Having the five Yachay Tech students in Lincoln this summer has provided benefits for the students and both institutions, said Daniel Linzell, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Engineering’s associate dean for graduate and international programs.
“We have longstanding goals to support Yachay’s research and pedagogical initiatives and, more importantly, provide an avenue to the students who are interested in going to graduate school,” Linzell said. “We allow them to experience what it means to be a student in the U.S., especially a graduate student, and we believe they can succeed in the U.S. and, hopefully, we can convince them to come to UNL.”
Because Yachay Tech University is relatively new, Carlos Brito said, the opportunities to expand on what students learn at Yachay is limited and said this summer opportunity was invaluable to his growth as an engineer.
“The research experience here, you can’t put a price on it. The experience I got at Yachay isn’t bad, but I felt that I could learn more, I could do more,” said Brito. “I was really excited when the University of Nebraska gave us the opportunity to expand on that.
“The people here have helped us have given us new tools to go forward in our graduate studies and new tools to learn and to make ourselves better each day.”
At the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the students were assigned to research projects overseen by faculty in five departments within the College of Engineering:
Carlos Brito worked with Hamid Sharif, professor of electrical and computer engineering, in the Advanced Telecommunications Engineering Laboratory.
Evelyn Mollocana worked in the Laboratory for Innovative Microtechnologies and Biomechanics (LIMB) in mechanical and materials engineering.
Fernando Pesantez worked with Shudipto Dishari, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, on a research project titled, “Unravel the Biophysical Alteration of Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria through Studying the Interactions with Synthetic Nanostructured Surfaces.”
Francisco Quinga worked with Justin Bradley, assistant professor of computer science and engineering, on a project titled, “Cyber-Physical Attitude Control to Improve CubeSats Performance.”
Selena Tinoco worked with Xu Li, associate professor of civil engineering, on a project titled “Development of Practices to Limit the Transport of Antimicrobials and Antimicrobial Resistance Genes.”
Pesantez said he wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to any of his fellow Yachay Tech students that they should apply to be part of this program in the future.
“The work we did here is so much more advanced than I could have hoped and it has expanded my future,” Pesantez said. “This summer was a 10 out of 10.”