Passionate about research? Mapúa student says immersion in USA’s most innovative university a must

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Passionate about research? Mapúa student says immersion in USA’s most innovative university a must

Deciding on which college degree to pursue is a process and requires a lot of thinking. And sometimes, your dream profession can be realized even after spending a semester in the university of your choice and being presented with the vast academic opportunities it offers. This has been the case for 24-year-old student of Bachelor of Science in Biological Engineering – Master of Science in Biological Engineering joint program Alecsanndra Gonzales.

Mapúa University pioneered the offering of Biological Engineering in the Philippines in 2008. It is one of its ABET-accredited programs with curricula anchored on research and innovation. It offers non-traditional learning opportunities for students to gain their professional advantage, and among these is international experience through an immersion program.

Mapúa’s partnership with Arizona State University (ASU), the most innovative university in the US, supports this kind of learning opportunity through the offering of the summer immersion program to give students a chance to be immersed in ASU’s academic culture and discipline. Gonzales was the first student sent to ASU from Mapúa.

An outer space Biology-themed virtual reality experience was held at the Dreamscape Center located at the Global Launch Creative Commons where Gonzales and the other participants performed a basic simulation about the immune system and genetic mutation on alien species subjects.

The participants also did volunteer work for Food4theHungry where they read and arranged letters from sponsored children all over the globe. The organization reportedly received 5,594 letters to be shipped to sponsor families.

The summer immersion program is an introduction to the Sustainable Development Goals with discussions on the possible innovations to develop to help achieve the goals. It runs for two weeks and hosts students from ASU’s partner schools across the globe. It aims to help widen participants’ perception of global topics and issues through lectures and open discussions, collaborative research activity, and volunteer work. It also allows students to experience the beauty of Arizona with a tour around the ASU campus and a trip to the Grand Canyon.

“Having to meet individuals of different nationalities and culture at an international setting allowed me to realize that we have similarities and differences in terms of the societal problems we are facing. The program made me understand the value of sustainability in innovations and our role as future engineers to meet the goals in our respective cities or countries,” Gonzales shared. “Gaining friends from different fields and culture and the unforgettable Arizona experience are definitely plus factors.”

Alecsanndra Gonzales (third from left) and her team of international students being awarded for winning the Global Launch x Cintana Sustainability and Innovation Pitch Competition for their solution pitch targeting SDG #12: Sustainable Production and Consumption in Southeast Asia.

The culminating activity of the summer immersion program was the Global Launch x Cintana Sustainability and Innovation Pitch Competition where the team of Gonzales was hailed the winner out of the 10 groups. The team came up with Recycle: Pure Planet/RPP, a linear segregation system that will help individuals and businesses manage their waste materials. The application can be used to manage and monitor waste segregation, and in return allows individual users to redeem rewards or points which can be converted into cash or discount coupons and businesses to avail of tax discount for following the waste production and segregation threshold.

The competition allowed the participants to incorporate their learnings about the SDGs and establish that, though they vary in their fields of studies and future professions, they can work together to devise sustainable solutions that are beneficial to communities.

“My teammates are software engineering and international business majors. We tried to incorporate everyone’s fields to come up with RPP. As future engineers, researchers, and business people, we should pave our way towards achieving the goal of making sustainable living possible for everyone through innovations like this one,” shared Gonzales.

For Gonzales, the summer immersion program is something her fellow students should also grab. It is a steppingstone for students like her who aspire to be part of the solution, as it will give them a broader cultural perspective and may inspire them to pursue a career or studies abroad.

“Continuing our growth through exposure to programs and opportunities like the summer immersion program is one of the many ways we can take that are invaluable for us to have a brighter future.” Just this August, Mapúa begun offering health sciences and business programs in collaboration with ASU, namely, BS Biology, BS Psychology, AB Psychology, BS Accountancy, BS Business Administration (Major in Financial Management, Marketing Management, or Operations Management), and Master of Arts in Psychology. The summer immersion program at ASU is also offered to students of programs of related fields.