Teaching Renewable Energy in El Salvador

Monday, November 8, 2010
Hall 1 (Salt Palace Convention Center)
Richard A. Cairncross, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA

Professor Cairncross spent four months on a Fulbright Lectureship at the University of El Salvador between March to June 2010 to teach a course on Renewable Energy and to develop a graduate program on Renewable Energy. He has taught similar courses at Drexel University over the past three years. This presentation discusses the challenges and rewards of teaching courses on Renewable Energy in a private university in the USA and in an under-funded public university in a developing country. As in the United States, Salvadoran students are enthusiastic to learn more about renewable energy, but they are less motivated by worries about climate change than American students; in El Salvador the main motivations for renewable energy seems to be development of new jobs and reduction of pollution. Although El Salvador has an energy portfolio with approximately 50% renewable sources of energy, the remaining 50% is imported petroleum (with roughly equal amounts being used for electricity generation and transportation); so in some ways the technologies for developing renewable energy projects in El Salvador are similar to the United States. This presentation will review the syllabus and activities used in the course and critique them. The challenges of organizing a course in a foreign country along with the challenges of learning a new language will be discussed; although the style of delivery of the Renewable Energy Course in El Salvador evolved continually during the course, it was a valuable experience to delve deeper into the global aspects of Renewable Energy topics.

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