Mapúa hosts first inbound research student from KTH Sweden

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Erik Jonas Henrick Lybecker, KTH Royal Institute of Technology student.

Early this year, Mapúa Institute of Technology welcomed its first inbound research student from KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, Erik Jonas Henrick Lybecker.

The exchange is part of Mapúa and KTH’s commitment to develop inbound and outbound research and academic staff, as well as student mobility, with a view of promoting learning and culture. The exchange also aims to foster a close relationship between the two universities.

Lybecker worked on a thesis exploring the optimal location of a biorefinery in the Philippines, under the research area and supervision of Dr. Delia Senoro, Mapúa’s International Linkages for Research and Development (ILRAD) officer and the Environmental Engineering Graduate program chair, for the third and fourth quarter of the previous school year.

“The biorefinery is to be a part of supply chain involving bamboo farms, seaweed farms, and international ports,” Lybecker explained. “The study also investigates the environmental risk factors that could possibly be involved in the supply chain, such as the occurrence of natural disasters.”

Aside from academic exchanges, Mapúa and KTH are collaborating on different research projects, such as nano-membrane technology with the use of bamboo and seaweed for environmental sustainability application.

Unexpected adventure

For Lybecker, his stay in the Philippines was an unexpected adventure. “It truly was a great experience,” he said. “Being able to travel to a new country, and being the first exchange student from KTH to go to Mapúa, was very exciting for me.”

Dr. Senoro and her team assisted Lybecker during the duration of his stay at Mapúa—from gathering data for his thesis to registering for his courses while at Mapúa.

“Everything is done online at KTH, and we don’t get to choose our own courses. Having to queue in person to register was quite foreign to me. Without the ILRAD office, I would probably still be lost somewhere inside Mapúa trying to figure out how to register,” he said. Lybecker added that during his first weeks, he did not understand how a thesis is conducted and what was expected of him.

KTH Royal Institute of Technology student Erik Jonas Henrick Lybecker working on his thesis.

Aside from course registration and how to begin his thesis, Lybecker was also quite surprised at the learning environment at Mapúa.

For one, classes in KTH are conducted in big auditoriums with over a hundred students present. In Mapúa, as Lybecker experienced, classes are conducted in classrooms with a relatively smaller number of students in a class.

“What I liked most at Mapúa was that nothing was ever a problem and everyone was always willing to help me; there is always that warm and intimate feeling here—among the staff, the teachers, and the students,” he said.

Student mobility for research

The ILRAD Office continuously bolsters the Institute’s research capabilities by sending outbound researchers abroad for sandwich programs hosted by foreign universities.

A sandwich program is an opportunity for research students to go in a research university abroad to acquire experience from universities with matured research system, gather more information, and expand their knowledge on their research topic. This opportunity includes hands-on research experience and meeting and discussing with academic experts to seek advice and guidance for the research project.

“Most of our research mobility programs are sandwich programs for outbound researchers,” Dr. Senoro explained. “Mapúa is on its way to accommodate and support more inbound researchers for both graduate and undergraduate students.”

“Apart from students’ mobility for research, we are working on possible capacity building of researchers who will focus on fibers for various applications, such as environmental protection and remediation,” Dr. Senoro said. She added that her team and foreign researchers are looking at a possibility of having a mini-biorefinery for seaweeds and bamboo hence Lybecker’s research.

Another student from KTH will be arriving later this year to continue Lybecker’s biorefinery study. Also, the ILRAD Office, the Sustainable Development Research Office (SDRO), and the Environmental Engineering graduate program, are conducting a joint research with a group of researchers from National Chen Kung University (NCKU) in Taiwan for the rehabilitation of Laguna Lake and Pasig River.