UTEP Students Collaborate on U.S.-Mexico Smart Cities Study Abroad Program
Ruey Cheu and Chyanne Smith | August 3, 2016
Students from The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) and The University of Guadalajara (UdeG) in Jalisco, Mexico, came together for the U.S.–Mexico Study Abroad Program on Smart Cities, which began Spring 2016 as a part of President Obama's 100,000 Strong in the Americas Initiative.
Funded by the Partners of the Americas Foundation, the initiative expands study abroad opportunities for students, strengthens bi-national relations and better prepares young people for the 21st century global workforce.
The UTEP-UdeG project incorporates the emerging concept of smart cities, which describes a city's ability to integrate people, technology and information to create an efficient, sustainable and resilient infrastructure that provides high quality services while improving the quality of life of its residents. It joins students and faculty members from the civil engineering, computer science, electrical engineering, metallurgical, materials and biomedical engineering departments of the two universities, as well as industry support from IBM Mexico.
Students from UdeG began attending classes at UTEP back in April, where they were introduced to the concept of smart cities, enabling technologies, and infrastructure systems in city and business models. They also took field trips to the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Inland Water Desalination Plan, Sun Metro, City of El Paso Traffic Management Center and the El Paso Chihuahuas baseball stadium.
UTEP students then traveled to Guadalajara in June to attend classes at the University Centre of Economic and Managerial Sciences (CUCEA), where they received more instructions on smart cities project implementation and visited sites and facilities in downtown Guadalajara that had been designated by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) as the first smart cities implementation site in the world. The students also spent their time in Guadalajara visiting a senior citizen home, a bike sharing company, IBM and Intel.
To finish off the program, all students competed in the Smarter Cities Hackathon competition sponsored by IBM Mexico, during which they developed smart phone applications for smart cities services. Each team was required to develop a prototype and business plan, then present to a jury panel. Eight UTEP-UdeG teams competed, taking first place in three technical categories. The Every Drop Counts team – made up of UTEP civil engineering student Diana Guerrero, UTEP electrical and computer engineering students Jesus Fernandez, and UdeG information systems students Monica Gomez, Cesar Bravo, and Oscar Santana – was selected as the overall winner of the Hackathon for its app detecting water leakage.