Monday, May 25, 2015

On Friday we got to present all of the ideas we had been working on over the last two weeks to the President of Universidad Esan, the Dean of Esan's College of Engineering, as well as other Esan faculty.
We arrived a little before 9 am in our best professional attire to prep for the presentation. At 9:30 am the Dean of the College of Engineering gave opening remarks and then Penn State, along with fellow Peruvian students from U.N.I. took the floor. We discussed our ideas towards a solution for a better quality of life for those living in the informal settlements of Peru. These included new structure ideas for the homes, a backpack design to aid in the carrying of water from the bottom of the hill to the upper regions, as well as a dry toilet to help with sanitation and a recycled plastic bottle walkway to level the ground and make the terrain easier to navigate.
Once we had finished the presentation, we had closing remarks where gifts were exchanged between Esan and Penn State and then we enjoyed lunch with the President of Esan.
After we said farewell to Esan, we visited a few laboratories at U.N.I. to see their work with telecommunication research and then had another brief closing ceremony were more gifts were exchanged and the U.N.I. students were recognized for their great work and gracious hosting these last two weeks.
Now that our project is complete, we head to Cusco and Machu Picchu to experience even more Peruvian culture!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Thursday was our last day working on our project. We started off the morning finishing up our prototypes and started working on our PowerPoint presentation. We did a run through presentation to the Pennsylvania State University Supervisors and some managers of the FABLAB. We received good feedbacks and constructive criticism on things we can adjust for the final and closing presentation.

In the afternoon we were headed to Jicamarca. It is a radio observatory located one and half hours outside of Lima, Peru. Jicamarca’s main antenna is the largest of all the incoherent scatter radars in the world. The observatory is a facility of the Instituto Geofísico del Perú and is used to do research in meteor physics and study of ionosphere. We were able to tour the observatory and meet some of the researchers.

Finally we had a friendly soccer match with students from Pennsylvania State University and Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería at Jicamarca’s soccer field before we headed back to our houses.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Building Process

On Tuesday we had our second full day of designing and building our prototypes. Most of the groups had started 3D printing and using the Shop Bot to begin the building process. Out of the 7 problems that we chose to innovate solutions for, my group worked on the waste management and the walkways leading up to and in front of the informal settlement homes. We manufactured a walkway using recycled plastic water bottles in order to reduce the amount of waste and to provide a cheap and easy solution to the settlement residents. It was a very productive day spent in the FabLab and by the end we all had a better idea of what our finished prototypes were going to look like.

By Wednesday morning each group had developed their first prototype and was making slight adjustments to improve upon their first models. My group in particular spent the majority of the day building a life-size model of our prototype and a smaller portion of time on a scaled version for our whole group prototype. In the afternoon we attended a lecture given by two representatives of the RSU, Responsabilidad Social Universitaria, who talked about academic social responsibility and about the program they offer in Peru where they help you to develop marketing and business development techniques. At the end of the day each group had contributed a part to the almost complete prototype of the house and the several different solutions we strived to solve. After a long day we were looking forward to relaxing and eager to continue with our projects the next morning.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Steps Towards Solutions.

Monday was our first design and build day. At the beginning of the day we organized our priorities. This involved us getting into groups and writing down different issues the Peruvian people have, then all four groups got together and organized our choices. Groups then chose two topics to work on, my group chose water purification/transportation and structural durability.

After brainstorming and lunch we got to drafting. Our group comprised of Itxel, Jordan, Jhon, Lisien, and I decided to split up the tasks. Itxel, Jhon, and Lisien worked on structural durability and Jordan and I focused on the water purification/transportation. The rest of my day was spent working with the managers of the FABLAB, trying to put our ideas to paper and paper to models. Jordan and I ended the day at 6pm with an effective idea, a few computer models a start on a prototype, and goals for the next day.

                                        (Above is a prototype water transportation backpack)
It was a great start to a design with genuine ideals and engineering behind it. I can't wait to get back in the lab, start 3-D printing, and finish our project.

                   (To the right is one of the 3-D printers avaible in the FABLAB)

The Project Begins

After enjoying the weekend and exploring another informal settlement, we finally started working on the project! Within the FABLAB, combined with the Peruvian students, we were separated into four groups and we all identified several problems that we observed within these impoverished communities. We then collaborated to develop these issues and then each group chose two specific topics to go into further detail on. We then spent the rest of the day performing reviews. Everybody had interesting points of view to their ideas that was conveyed through several programs such as Solidworks and AutoCad.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Sunday, May 17th, 2015

       On Sunday we had a great opportunity to represent Penn State here in Lima by interviewing on a local radio station, Radio San Borja. Dr. Urbina, Dr. Freeman, and three of us got to actually go in and answer questions live, which was fun, but a little intimidating, especially because Judson and myself do not speak Spanish and needed our questions and answers translated. Marianna, however, rocked her Spanish and did an awesome job. Thankfully the questions were easy like ``Why did you choose Penn State?´´ and ``Why did you choose your major?´´, which we all get asked pretty regularly. We were also asked about why we are in Peru, so we got to talk about our project a little bit, and give a shout out to Esan and UNI for being awesome university hosts. Overall it was a cool experience and we got to represent Penn State in another country, which is always exciting. WE ARE...!!!!!

      After the radio show we got into our taxis and drove out to a mall called Mega Plaza to get a quick lunch at Planet Chicken before going to another informal settlement about two hours outside of Lima proper. If I did not believe Lima was in a desert before, I believed it after Sunday. After driving through the desert for a while, we finally stopped and got out of our cars to look around. We saw a few simple dwellings created with minimal resources, spread out in what seemed like the middle of nowhere. There were no stores, and no people we could see. We learned that this is the beginnings of a new informal settlement, which over the next 15 to 20 years will slowly develop into the informal settlement we visited on Friday, which was much larger and more developed. After visiting these informal settlements Friday and Sunday, I feel both humbled and enlightened by how much these people persevere to survive and thrive with the opportunities they have. I appreciate being able to see a more broad perspective, and I think a more accurate picture of Peru, by seeing every aspect of the country, rather than just the typical tourist destinations.

Señora Rosa's Birthday

Walking into Señora Rosa's house, I could smell the familiar scent and homey feeling that I get from my own grandmother's house. Since we arrived we were greeted with hugs and kisses and been spoiled with her Peruvian and Chinese cuisine every breakfast and dinner. Like our own mom she makes sure we never leave without our cooled water bottle, fruit of the day, and "chompa" for the cool afternoon.  If anyone doubted her generosity by one bit, she definitely went above and beyond on Saturday.
This past Saturday we were fortunate enough to spend Señora Rosa's birthday in Chinatown.  Señora Rosá is from Chinese descent, and while we know she can toss up her own chicken fried rice, she gave us the opportunity to eat Chinese breakfast at her favorite restaurant. Most of us were very familiar with our version of Chinese food, but we had never experinced actual Chinese food.  For a few of us it was a rather interesting experience but nevertheless a delicious one.

Afterwards, we toured the area and got to see the Saint Francis Monastery also known as the Cathedral of Catacumbs. We learned about the colonial times and the cementary, held underneath the Cathedral.  We were able to sneak in a few pictures which showed how the bones of the Peruvian encestors were clearly arranged and organized a specific way to honor tradition and perseverance of their belief.  In addition, the Cathedral held several works of art, such as the "Last Supper" by Diego de la Puente inspired by Peruvian traditions.
We also got the chance to visit different artisan shops where we got to buy souveniers such as shoes and purses and even enjoy a sugar coated, fried delicacy with custard inside. Finally, we knew we couldn't leave without a visit to the local salon. Tensaye and I paid them a visit and did our hair and nails, while Señora Rosa gambled in the local casino.
Friday May 15, 2015

Today Professor Lu continued his presentation on product design. We began the class with a friendly competition in which teams raced to place the steps of product development in chronological order. Later we got our creative juices flowing and learned the power of brainstorming. We sat in a circle and came up with different uses for the common hanger. After using some brainstorming techniques we ended up with over thirty different uses each more creative than the next. We learned the importance of brainstorming and how even the craziest ideas are essential to discover the best solution possible. These techniques are going to be very helpful when developing our project.

Our main project is to create a pre-fabricated house that will help improve the living condition in existing Pueblos Jovenes ,or informal settlements, in the outskirts of Lima. After lunch we set off to visit a local shanty town to get a better idea about the conditions and what we could do to help.

While exploring Lima, we drove by the towns and we could tell that the conditions were rough, but actually going in and seeing them up close was so different from what we imagined. The towns were so underdeveloped and lacked basic necessities. There was no running water and there was little electricity, for the most part there was only enough to power one lightbulb and maybe a clothes iron. Through Techo, an organization that builds houses and provides supplies for those in need, we were able to speak to a family that resided in the neighborhood. After speaking to the home owner and her son we discovered that they receive their water from a water truck that comes once a week, and they must purchase sufficient water for that week we also discovered that it cost 6 to 10 times more to provide water to informal settlrments than the affluent parts of Lima.

That experience was eye opening. It is crazy how just 30 minutes from Mira Flores, one of the more wealthy parts of Lima, there exists such extreme poverty. After our visit many of us were surprised and highly distraught; however, I think we are more inspired and determined to develop something that can improve their living situation, and hopefully make their lives easier which will create new opportunities for the families.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Created for May 12th, 2015

The group enjoyed an interesting economics lecture as was courtesy of one of the Professors of Esan. I suppose it is quite fitting considering it is a school of business. Our lecture involved the fiscal and business standing of Latin American as compared with the rest of the world, and included some particulars about Peru including growth rates and investments of foreign firms into the country.

It was a particularly beautiful day as we certainly were able to notice from El Parque de las Aguas (Water Park or Park with Fountains). this park had a variety of several fountains and even included a tunnel of water. This was especially picture worthy.

Parque de las Aguas
Today was a day which we were in formal wear. Just as all the preceding days have been, today was also so beneficial and we learned more than we can all individually retain.

We started our morning learning about new product development. A huge point which was reiterated to us when learning about marketing and new product development. There are many different types of consumer products which are in the market. However, personally what I took out of todays lesson what the importance of marketing, This, incorporated with the consistent feedback from the customers and the continuous innovation to maintain demand in the market are imperative to maintaining dominance in the market for your product. If one can master these two things then their business will be much more successful.
"67% of products fail in a term of 2 years"     - Ernst & Young 1997

We then learned all about the different technologies available for the betterment of renewable technology. For example the Panel Fotovoltaico,  la energia de biogas, termas Solaris, and many more technologies. We also had the opportunity to talk with an international representative of the U.S. He told us a lot about the differences between cultures across the world. He also emphasized the importance of building international relationships. I was personally inspired to build international relationship with other countries and the United States. After this trip I will be looking for another opportunity to travel abroad, become more culturally versed, and to build international relationships.

NSF Pathways Fellows and Peruvian students,
with a member of the U.S. Embassador's Office

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Monday marked our first full day of being in Peru. We went to the Universidad de Esan and were introduced to the President of the University, along with other engineering staff. We also met the Peruvian engineering students that will be our guide throughout our time at University de Esan and in Lima. While at the University we were given a presentation on Product Design and Management. This course had lots of great components to it, but the take home message from this presentation was that satisfying the customer's needs is paramount and even more important than the product itself. Businesses that satisfy the customer's needs have longevity and success. After completing an engineering activity and eating lunch we headed to the Peruvian Museo de Oro (Gold Museum). The museum contained lots of artifacts from the Incan time period and most of the exhibits had an interesting story to go along with them. After this we returned to The Central Plaza and spent the rest of our day there.

Universidad de Esan, Photo Credit: Jordan Smith

Monday, May 11, 2015

Finally we arrived at Peru around Sunday morning around 7:00 am Peruvian time. After a long flight we were greeted by Julio and then we were off to meet our hosts Sra. Gloria and Sra. Rosa. We received a warm welcome and we headed to the breathtaking Laromar, in Miraflores. Larcomar is in Miraflores had a dazzling view of the Pacific Ocean. The wonderful ocean view was accompanied by a food court with a plethora of Peruvian dishes. The two most popular dishes amongst the group were Ceviche and Lomo Saltado. After leaving the Larcomar we took a driving tour of Lima/Miraflores and got closer to the coast and took a few photos. Once we left we visited La Plaza Mayor in downtown Lima where the President's mansion commonly referred to as the Palacio de Justícia (Palace of Justice) is located along with a very beautiful chapel. Lastly we went to the Jockey Plaza which has a prolific food court for dinner. After dinner a long very enjoyable first day in Peru came to an end.