Published: Sept. 23, 2019 By

ESPOL and CU Engineering faculty and staff gather in conference room

A contingent from ESPOL meets faculty and staff from the College of Engineering and Applied Science during a visit to Boulder in 2018. 

The College of Engineering and Applied Science is establishing new research collaborations and launching an international engineering course in Ecuador, continuing the college’s efforts to expand its global reach and impact.

The project, led by professors Gregor Henze and Shelly Miller, builds on a partnership with the Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral, or ESPOL. The two universities will work together to investigate new energy solutions for the campus in Guayquil, Ecuador, and explore air quality issues in the South American nation.

The effort is bolstered by a $10,000 grant from the Low and Middle-Income Partnerships Seed Fund in the College of Engineering and Applied Science, a new fund that aims to improve geographic and socioeconomic diversity in the college’s research partnerships in response to the college’s 2017 Strategic Vision.

The relationship between CU Boulder and ESPOL was sparked when ESPOL Professor Paola Almeida won a Fulbright to conduct research and guest-lecture at CU. Through her collaboration with CU’s Mark Hernandez, professor of environmental engineering, it quickly became evident that the campuses shared a number of research synergies worth exploring.

Last year, a delegation from ESPOL visited CU Boulder to build relationships and collaborative programs, and in June, Associate Dean for Research Keith Molenaar visited ESPOL to continue planning for future programs.

As part of the project, Miller will purchase low-cost air quality sensors to deploy in Duran, Ecuador, and on the ESPOL campus to monitor individuals’ exposure to traffic-related air pollution. Henze will investigate the potential development of an advanced heating and cooling network known as an ambient loop on the campus. Both will work with collaborators at ESPOL as they work to establish an understanding of air pollution exposure in Ecuador and a more sustainable “smart campus.”

“There are only nine air pollution monitors in the country of Ecuador,” Miller said. “What this project provides is a unique opportunity to document air pollution exposures of Ecuadorians and survey their health and well-being.”

Henze also plans to develop a Global Intensive course for undergraduates and graduate students to be offered in spring 2021 on the campus of ESPOL in Ecuador. Global Intensives are short-term global programs embedded into on-campus, faculty-led courses. All include a 10- to 12-day immersion abroad that complements and expands on the material studied throughout the semester.

“We believe that this collaboration with Ecuador will foster global engagement of our students and faculty by helping develop engineers and appropriate technical solutions with a global reach in their impact on humanity,” Henze said.