Training a New Generation of ProfessionalsWed, 02/22/2017 - 15:02
Effectively enacting its ambitious Energy Reform is one of the major challenges Mexico has faced in recent history and preparing human resources is crucial to reach the country’s objectives. Tecnológico de Monterrey (ITESM) has joined forces with CONACYT, the Ministry of Energy and other relevant players to develop a learning platform suited to the industry’s needs.
The Binational Laboratory for the Smart Management of Sustainable Energy and Technological Formation (Binational Lab) was the winning idea proposed by ITESM in response to the Ministry of Energy and CONACYT’s call for proposals. The project is financed by the Sustainable Energy Fund, managed by both public entities.
“ITESM’s proposal stood out from the competition because it included national and international partners that had the potential to complement our capabilities and benefit from our initiatives,” says Alberto Mendoza, Leader of the Research Group on Energy & Climate Change at ITESM and part of the university’s team in charge of the Binational Lab.
At a national level, ITESM is collaborating with the National Network of Technological Institutes, the National Institute of Electricity and Clean Energies (INEEL) and CFE. The University of Arizona and the University of California are two of ITESM’s international partners.
According to Mendoza, “the purpose of the Binational Lab is to spread awareness about the opportunities created by the Energy Reform and give Mexican students and professionals the tools to venture into this sector.”
“The energy industry needs professionals from different areas of specialization but with an understanding of the new regulatory framework and the needs of the energy industry, including financing, engineering and regulatory aspects,” he adds.
As part of the Binational Lab, ITESM decided to use Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) as an efficient way to reach large audiences. The university incorporated innovative features as it wanted to go beyond traditional online courses. “We are also working to include disruptive ideas into our MOOCs, such as giving virtual access to our physical energy laboratories. Tecnológico de Monterrey is an innovative institution and we wanted to reflect this in our courses,” Mendoza says.
The online platform, MéxicoX, was selected as the host website for the energy MOOCs, which consist of 10 courses in this first stage, covering basic energy topics as well as more specialized areas such as power production, electricity transmission and distribution, smart grids, energy efficiency, climate change, CELs and carbon markets. “We prepared our courses thinking about recently graduated students looking for a career path in the energy sector as well as experienced professionals and entrepreneurs willing to give their business an energy approach,” he explains.
“As part of the Binational Lab, we are also developing a model of the Mexican energy sector that will work as a decision-making simulator, known as ‘decision theaters,’” Mendoza says. “Industry stakeholders can test their decisions with this tool, analyzing how it would affect the national electricity system.”
ITESM has also designed a set of Masters and PhD programs to contribute to the formation of specialized energy professionals and the promotion of R&D in energy-related matters. “We have just launched a call for applications to our specialized Masters programs, which were created as part of this initiative and have a number of scholarships available. Our objective is to find the best applicants, who show a strong commitment to the country’s energy industry development,” says Mendoza.
“The Binational Lab looks to push the triple helix approach in the energy sector. We want to bring academia together with the public and private sectors so we can tackle the industry’s barriers and transform Mexico into a competitive energy hub,” he says.