A Future for IAJES in the Americas: Research, Education, Exchange, and Development to Address Societal Needs.
Faculty members at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, (MU) and other Jesuit Universities in the Americas have been working on an increased collaborative network. From that, a vision of how we can collaborate and make societal change has emerged. This includes the following areas: Research collaboration focused on societal needs, Educational opportunities, student exchange, and economic development. Three new research collaborations have been started in the areas of Water, Climate, and Biomedical Engineering. In the areas of water and climate, two research projects have been started. Faculty members from MU, Universidad Centroamericana José Simeón Cañas, (La UCA, El Salvador) and Ministerio de Medio Ambiente and Recursos Naturales of El Salvador and have begun a study of the effects of rainfall variability on plant growth and crops. Other faculty members from MU and Universidad Centroamericana UCA de Nicaragua, (La UCA, Nicaragua) have analyzed flood risk in a crop-growing region in eastern Nicaragua. Faculty from MU and Universidad Rafael Landívar in Guatemala City (URL) are planning a clinical trial to use appropriate medical technology to treat and prevent lower respiratory infections. Other ideas have included identifying low-cost lighting and sensors for zero net-energy buildings and other appropriate healthcare technological solutions. We propose an IAJES research fund to support research like this. Several ideas around educational initiatives have also emerged. One area is faculty development in Jesuit Universities in the Americas, specifically how U.S. universities can facilitate faculty to earn advanced degrees and develop research activities. Also, expanding the pipeline of undergraduate students who apply and are accepted to U.S. graduate programs was discussed. Creating more stand-alone new programs and programs that share courses and curricula across universities was also discussed. We propose a database of degrees offered, and the creation of shared courses and programs. Examples of student exchange include MU and URL students working on Engineers Without Borders projects. A second between MU and La UCA, El Salvador is creating a patient monitoring system for mothers and babies using arduinos, where MU volunteers are helping design students at La UCA, El Salvador. Third, Pontifica Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia (Javeriana), has a service initiative for their students called PROSOFI, which has many things in common with programs at MU, such as their leadership program, E-Lead, and social entrepreneurship programs. We propose creating tools to help student groups connect. Finally, the concept of Jesuit Engineering Schools as agents of economic development was discussed. There is a group at MU that sells a software product and the revenue pays for student workers and their graduate training. A similar model could be used in Jesuit Universities in the Americas. The University has the infrastructure for accounting, security, manufacturing equipment, and other needs. The University “company” could hire graduates to work as well. All these proposed initiatives need leadership, faculty effort, and funds to advance the Jesuit engineering school mission. IAJES could ignite social change through technology, education, exchange, and economic development with the right resources.