UDLAP Students Win the VW Challenge

Four Universidad de las Américas Puebla students won the VW Challenge, an innovation and imagination competition, where the participants have an opportunity to present their business ideas to Volkswagen executives on the future of mobility, purchasing experience, and other automobile-related aspects of what to expect in 2030.

Derived from their Information Technology in Business class – taught by Fernando Thompson de la Rosa, UDLAP’s IT Director – Laura Raquel Olvera, Elena Maria Horffmann, Alberto Mori, and Gauthier Olivier Romain Larenaudie, the former three Mexican students and the latter an exchange student, created wide-reaching projects to participate in the challenge convened by the German automotive company. “We had the opportunity for our students to work with Volkswagen developing a project to automate industrial innovation. Ours was the first university selected to participate in this Challenge,” shared Thompson de la Rosa.

The UDLAP students presented a project that describes how an automobile will be purchased in 2030 for big cities, how maintenance will be offered in Mexico, and how mobility will change here. “We developed a project on our idea of the future, starting from the trend we see for the next 10 years.  Our idea was to develop a leasing-membership program centered on personalization and complete coverage of millennials’ requirements, who will be the new VW customers,” explained Alberto Mori.

VW Challenge

Based on their project, the students continued to develop it at the VW Mexico headquarters throughout the semester, having the opportunity to work with the marketing and development team of the company, who added ideas to fine-tune their work; they also received feedback from executives, both at the final presentation as well as during their collaboration throughout the semester. “We are thrilled because we could express our ideas on what we see as the future of mobility in the next 30 years, we were listened to, and they were excited with the ideas we developed,” said Elena Maria Horffmann.

This way, UDLAP continues its effort to offer outreach activities for students in the business world, as well as giving them an opportunity to present projects that open working opportunities for them. It is important to mention that this course is part of the program of the Licenciatura in Business Administration of the School of Business and Economics at UDLAP. “This initiative provides an opening to create new projects, not only at VW, but with other companies.  It is an opportunity for students to become involved with the real world from the first semesters” commented Dr. Cecilia Trujillo Reyes, academic director of the Department of Business Administration at Universidad de las Américas Puebla.



UDLAP Faculty Member Is Named Editor of the Book Sustainable Building Materials

  • The book’s topic is eco-friendly materials for construction.

 Dr. Iván Oropeza Pérez, Research and Graduate Studies Coordinator in the Architecture Department at Universidad de la Américas Puebla, was named editor of the book Sustainable Building Materials by IntechOpen publishing company.

“I was invited directly by IntechOpen, the publisher, to edit the book whose main topic is sustainable materials for buildings. I accepted the invitation fully understanding the responsibility of editing a book,” stated the UDLAP professor.

He said that the editing responsibilities include activities such as establishing and developing a theme on which the book’s objectives will be focused, review proposals and detect their relevance for the topic, give a positive or negative verdict of the completed chapters, review the chapters and establish their order, write the introduction, edit it and review the scientific quality to make sure it meets the publishers’ standards, to finally be able to publish the book.

Regarding the importance of editing the book, Dr. Iván Oropeza said that it is due to the topic, since it is focused on building materials. “The chapters revolve around materials that are sustainable for building. Today, everybody is concerned with the environment, and we receive a lot of article proposals for new materials that use less energy in their manufacturing process, as well as in their use at a global level,” he said.

It is important to mention that the main objective of this book is to show the benefits of the use of construction materials in a sustainable context. The benefits could be environmental, economic or social and the building materials are evaluated with different tools and methods and are carried out in terms of design, structure, thermal comfort, life cycle, mitigation of greenhouse gases and social development, among many others that consider social, architectural, and engineering aspects.

Dr. Iván Oropeza has a distinguished professional career which has led him to different activities: he co-authored a book on the potential of natural ventilation in Mexico; he has presented papers at different national and international meetings; published different scientific, peer-reviewed research articles; reviewed articles related to passive air conditioning of buildings and its energy consumption. He is currently the president of the International Building Performance Simulation Association in Mexico (IBPSA-México), member of the National Association of Solar Energy (Asociación Nacional de Energía Solar – ANES), member of the Decent and Sustainable Housing Network (Red de Vivienda Digna y Sustentable CONACYT), and a member of the editorial committee of the American Journal of Energy Engineering.

UDLAP Faculty Member Named Distinguished Guest During the XXIX CONPEHT Meeting in the Dominican Republic

María del Carmen Morfin Herrera, academic director of the Tourism Department at Universidad de las Américas Puebla, and current President of the Pan-American Federation of Hotel, Gastronomy, and Tourism Schools attended the XXIX CONPEHT Meeting held in Dominican Republic, where she was also named distinguished guest by the government of Santo Domingo.

In the framework of the XXIX CONPEHT Meeting, the current president of the association had previously met with the honor council and the board of directors to discuss topics regarding the work she has been carrying out for a year. “We take advantage of the yearly assembly to meet three days before so the presidency may explain what has been done and under which regulations the activities have been carried out,” stated professor Morfin.

Regarding her experience leading CONPEHT, the UDLAP director of the Tourism Department said she felt happy with the work team because “they have adhered to this modification because the students and professors feel included; and now the main challenge next year will be to host the meeting.  I think this will be done very well, as I see that each of the activity leaders and coordinators are very committed, and I think we will leave a mark,” she stated.

“We started the collaborative work in April, when we provided the most adequate guidelines for our strategic framework, defining CONPEHT on its 30th anniversary, which is in 2020.  I am in charge of presenting the results of this work.  We are all very committed to the federation, and there have been changes to the calls, such as the integral gastronomy contest, student research, the food style contest, and the new guidelines for the Turpade magazine,” added professor Morfín.

On the other hand, she expressed her satisfaction with the organization and development of the 2019 meeting because, with the coordination of the Pan-American Federation of Hotel, Gastronomy and Tourism Schools and the hosts in the Dominican Republic, there were over 600 participants from 22 countries, in spite of unexpected events that were out of their control. Professor Morfín says that it was a success because the “CONPEHT community is always willing to participate with discipline, professionalism, and ethics to create a different path.”

“On the last day I was pleased with the recognition we received from the government, when they named me a distinguished guest of Santo Domingo. The tourism minister and the meeting organizer gave me this award, and I am very honored to have it,” stated professor Morfín. Finally, Universidad de las Américas Puebla will be one of the hosts of the yearly meeting in 2020 and the first meeting will be on campus. “UDLAP will celebrate its 80th anniversary and CONPEHT its 30th anniversary, and we’re going to celebrate jointly. It is very important for me to have them here,” concluded the CONPEHT President.


UDLAP Faculty Member Discusses New Security Threats at an International Congress

Gerardo Rodríguez Sánchez Lara, faculty member at Universidad de las Américas Puebla, participated in the international colloquium “Good Government, Development, and Security 2019” in Lima Peru, where important personalities of strategic-thinking security and defense centers from Latin America and Europe, both civil and military, met.

This event was organized by the International Center on Governability, Development, and Security (CIGODESE), of the Real Instituto del Cano in Spain, the Center for Strategic Studies of the Peruvian Army, and Universidad de las Américas Puebla. Prof. Rodríguez Sánchez Lara, a member of the Department of International Relations and Political Science at UDLAP and coordinator of the Governance and Public Policies at the UDLAP-Jenkins Graduate School, also said that one reason for the meeting was to assess the challenges that the armed forces of the American continent face regarding new threats in the area.  Experts in security – such as the Secretary of Defense of Peru, faculty members from the Universidad Militar Nueva Granada de Colombia, of the Universidad ESAN, from the Center of Strategic Studies of Peru, and institutions in Germany and France – met and discussed these problems for three days.

Regarding the colloquium’s content, Professor Rodríguez emphasized that one of the most important subjects for him was that even though some threats are unchanged, such as terrorism, the armed forces continue to be utilized by their governments to fight crime, a matter they were not prepared for. “The conclusion at the meeting is that armies must keep to their mission of defending countries from external factors; however, the threats more often come from within the countries, such as organized crime of different types: drug trafficking, human trafficking, weapons trafficking, theft of minerals,” he added.

The army’s participation in fighting those crimes has improved their image among the citizens of American countries. For example, Professor Rodríguez said that in Mexico 80% of the population have a positive image of the armed forces. This is because they are considered to be one of the most organized and resourceful forces which can be quickly deployed to help civil institutions.

Likewise, he commented that his lecture in the meeting, “Contemporary Difficulties in the Integration Processes”, discussed challenges in hemispheric security, since this is where new threats to security systems, banks, and institutions arise.  Therefore “the armies of the world have an important task: to develop new technologies to protect this sector by dissuading and attacking illegal cyberspace activities,” stated the UDLAP faculty member.

UDLAP Faculty Member Participates in International Meeting on Conservation of Protected Areas

Dr. Celeste Cedillo, faculty member of the Political Science and International Relations department at UDLAP, was part of the technical committee at the Third Meeting on Protected Areas of Latin America and the Caribbean, held in Peru, where she evaluated projects, posters, and participated as a speaker, talking about governance and environmental geography applied to the Izta-Popo Park.

Latin America has important challenges regarding the conservation of protected areas, but the most relevant are the insufficiency and disparity of the budgets to maintain and manage them. While small countries like Costa Rica have several decades effectively working in public policies, others with great diversity, such as Mexico, which has around 12% of land areas and a little more in marine areas, have problems both in monetary terms and regarding personnel and equipment.

For this reason, and many more, experts from different countries met in Peru to exchange knowledge and debate about public policy, with the objective to strengthen the capabilities of the main actors in conservation in order to promote adequate handling of protected areas in Latin America. “Representatives from academia, public organizations, private companies, indigenous leaders, and NGOs participated in this meeting.  The objective was to listen to experiences on how to improve public policies, which will allow us to have more information about how to act more effectively,” explained Dr. Cedillo.

Among the experts who attended the meeting, sponsored by the International Union for Nature Conservation (UICN) and the World Commission for Protected Areas, the UDLAP faculty member stood out; she said that “they invited me to be part of the technical committee to evaluate all the proposals, presentations, posters, and everything that will be done along strategic lines.”

Also, she had an opportunity to share her experiences in conservation and protected areas through the presentation “Environmental Governance and Environmental Geography Applied to the Izta-Popo Park”, a project that paints a study case used for her doctoral thesis and which states that “if we include a geographical focus in environmental governance we can have a better impact regarding conservation and sustainable development of protected areas.”

It is important to point out that the Third Meeting on Protected Areas of Latin America and the Caribbean helped to make known proposals of different organizations, which will be sent to the Convention on Biological Diversity, where they will review the Aichi Goals in 2020. “These are goals that have been agreed upon by several countries, among them Mexico, in order to improve conservation and to draft public policies so that protected areas function adequately,” explained the UDLAP professor.

UDLAP Faculty Member Exhibits at the Museum of Visual Arts in Santiago, Chile

  • Carlos Arias took to his exhibition in Santiago, Chile, works of his series Pahuatlán and Jornadas, the latter begun in 1995 and on which he´s worked for almost 25 years.

Carlos Arias, artist and faculty member at Universidad de las Américas Puebla, opened an exhibition in Santiago, Chile, after an absence of almost two decades. This time his collected works – La trama (auto)biográfica The (Auto)biographical Weft, held at the Museum of Visual Arts (MAVI) – represents the most important individual show of the artist in Chile. In it, he stresses social topics such as minorities, gender, sexuality, race, and immigration from an autobiographical point pf view.

The (Auto)biographical Weft: A file in transit was curated by Dr. Cynthia Francica. It shows his work as a function of objects in need of a register – a queer file, or an alternate record of stories of minority groups that are not present in official files. Its purpose is also to visualize the work of Arias in the Chilean context from the perspective of a life in a minority.

For this exhibit the artist selected works he has made since 1994, when he started to embroider and abandoned painting until today, yielding a total of 16 embroidered works in different formats. “My work is totally atemporal. I have works from ´97 until 2007 and they don’t feel old. Thread, due to its homey quality, is pleasant” explained Carlos Arias.

During the colloquium Art, Minorities, and Immigration, organized for this exhibit, Carlos Arias commented: “This exhibition arose from the book The Thread of Life (El hilo de la vida) published by UDLAP and very well edited. I sent it to some friends in Santiago, specifically to Sergio Parra, who told me that he wanted to invite me to exhibit at his gallery.” However, because Arias´s last exhibition had been held in 2002, Sergio Parra put him in touch with Maria Elena Alcalde and Cynthia Francica, who decided to exhibit it at the MAVI.

The Chilean artist, who arrived in Mexico in 1988, presents through his work the exploration of hybrid spaces in aesthetic and racial terms that extend to sexuality, gender and (trans)nationality, depicting these dimensions through identity research and intermediate spaces. This show will be available to the Chilean public until October 27, offering all its visitors a history of modern and vanguard art represented in pieces with indigenous motifs and aesthetics, like the series Pahuatlán, as well as his work Jornadas begun in 1995 and which is 20 meters long.

UDLAP Faculty Member Represents Mexico in the Solarlits Editorial Council

Dr. Doris Abigal Chi Pool, professor of the Architecture Department at Universidad de las Américas Puebla, became a member of the Solarlits editorial council, an important international media that publishes vanguard research in solar energy and illumination. She is the only Mexican representative.

Dr. Chi has a doctorate in Architecture and specializes in studies of natural illumination and energy efficiency. She is the only Mexican in the select group of 36 members of this editorial council, a space made up of academics from Malaysia, Jordan, the United States, Indonesia, Serbia, Egypt, the United Kingdom, China, and others. The UDLAP faculty member will collaborate with the Journal of Daylighting magazine, which began its biannual publication in 2014.

“This magazine focuses on natural light, from an energy efficiency standpoint, on visual comfort, colorimetry, people’s health, and psychological aspects. It also includes topics on artificial light, illumination design, projects and the way to develop them, and on their psychological benefits for people. In the area of solar energy, there are studies of photovoltaic systems and electrical energy savings,” she stated.

She assumed her role as part of the council thanks to the articles she has published, which led to receiving an invitation from Solarlits’ chief editor: “I got an email asking if I wanted to be a member of the editorial committee, explaining the benefits and the responsibilities it implied, and what my participation in the magazine would be,” she added. As part of her activities, the UDLAP faculty member must review articles from researchers around the world. This “is carried out objectively: I make corrections and observations and the authors make the necessary adjustments to present the final project. It is a joint effort.” Finally, she explained that being in contact with vanguard topics on illumination, design, systems, and technology allows her to be aware of the latest developments, which undoubtedly benefits her teaching.

It is important to remember that topics regarding illumination are concentrated in a few research areas, and that thanks to the participation of professors as members of magazine boards – as Dr. Doris Chi in this one, indexed by Scopus, CrossRef, and the Directory of Open Access Journals – UDLAP’s faculty are positioned as authorities in internationally recognized research.

If you wish to learn more about the magazine, visit https://solarlits.com/

UDLAP Professor Receives the Breakthrough Prize

  • She received the award as part of the team that obtained the data to visualize the shadow of a black hole.

Dr. Milagros Zeballos Rebaza, faculty member of the Department of Actuarial Sciences, Physics, and Mathematics at Universidad de las Américas Puebla, is one of the scientists who received the Breakthrough Prize, which is known as the Oscar of Science. The UDLAP professor was part of a multi-institutional and multinational team that obtained the data to capture the shadow of a black hole. The discovery was announced on April 10, 2019 with an image achieved thanks to the participation of 347 scientists who applied a technique known as long-based interferometry, which combines signals from several telescopes to simulate a much larger one.

“As part of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project, I was granted the Breakthrough Prize, which is given in three fundamental scientific categories: Fundamental Physics, Life Sciences, and Math. The EHT project won for the year 2020 in the Fundamental Physics category,” commented Dr. Zeballos who also said that the 3 million-dollar award is for the team collaborating in the project. “We are planning now what to do with this money, that the prize earned by the members of the Large Millimeter Telescope be utilized to promote science among young people who live in the communities around that telescope,” she said.

The Breakthrough Prize is one of the biggest scientific awards in the world, and is known as the “the Oscar of Science.” This award recognizes outstanding achievements in physics, math, and biological sciences and was established in 2012 through the Milner Initiative, backed by the president of Alibaba Group, Jack Ma, the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, and one of the creators of Google, Serguéi Brin. “The Breakthrough Prize is awarded to outstanding research in fundamental physics; the idea behind it is to encourage research in basic science, considered as the way to advance science and technology for mankind,” Dr. Milagros Zeballos explained.

Finally, Dr. Zeballos Rebaza mentioned that winning this prize is a great satisfaction for her, “because it represents the work of a lot of people for a long time, since the EHT project has been trying for many years to capture the first image of a black hole.”

It is worth mentioning that every year the Prize has a topic. This year´s is “See the Invisible”, inspired by the collaboration of the EHT, which obtained the first image of a black hole, a great feat for the scientific world.

The participation of Dr. Milagros Zeballos Rebaza in the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) was focused on acquiring data to produce this image. The Prize will be received on November 3 by Shepherd Doyleman, event director of the EHT, in representation of the team members who obtained the data to visualize the shadow of a black hole.

UDLAP Faculty Member is Named Editorial Committee Member of an Asian Architectural Magazine

Dr. Iván Oropeza Pérez, Research and Graduate Coordinator at Universidad de las Américas Puebla, was named member of the editorial committee of Architecture and Design Review, a magazine based in Singapore. He is the only Latin-American member of this committee.

“Thanks to a direct proposal from the Architecture and Design Review magazine, I was invited to participate in the editorial committee, informing me of my obligations and rights. After some negotiation, we agreed that on August 2019 I would become a member of the editorial committee,” explained during an interview the UDLAP faculty member.

Architecture and Design Review is an open access magazine edited in English. It is about architecture, design, urban planning, urban design, and sustainable architecture. “It is published every three months, with at least one special issue per year about a specific topic,” commented Dr. Oropeza. He also highlighted that the magazine is based in Singapore wishing to be a space of international collaboration, with an editorial committee made up of people from Algeria, Malaysia, Turkey, Iran, India, the United States, the UAE, and Spain.

The main responsibilities for the UDLAP faculty member are to maintain the quality of the magazine and to review all articles to guarantee their merit to be published. “There are magazines such as these everywhere in the world, but the idea is to be of good quality, be read more widely, and to maintain its impact, which in the end is the objective of science” he affirmed.

On the other hand, he commented: “I am committed to submit a work on my research topic by next year at the latest, and to participate actively in the international meetings that they have on different proposals to improve the quality of the magazine”.

Finally, regarding the benefits obtained for teaching, he expressed that professors must seek research that trickles down to the students, and that one of the reasons why universities like UDLAP remain in the vanguard and maintain their quality is that the knowledge offered to students is not only basic information but also new one; and in this case being part of the committee has advantages because it gives him access to everything that is new in real time and the experience acquired is very extensive.

The Licenciatura in Nanotechnology and Molecular Engineering is Internationally Accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry

The Licenciatura in Nanotechnology and Molecular Engineering at Universidad de las Américas Puebla has been accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry. We are the only institution in the world to have received this accreditation for a nanotechnology program, confirming the top-level education that we provide, graduating young professionals who are prepared to face all types of challenges.

“This accreditation is an international recognition for the Licenciatura in Nanotechnology and Molecular Engineering; it was awarded by the Royal Society of Chemistry for five years,” commented during an interview Dr. Eugenio Sánchez Arreola, Academic Director for the Department of Chemical Biological Sciences at UDLAP. He explained that such accreditation is granted to universities that have programs with relevant areas of chemistry at the licenciatura or master’s level. “Only two institutions in Mexico are accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry; and UDLAP is the only one to receive this recognition for its nanotechnology program, which makes us the only program in the world to be accredited by this organization” added Dr. Sánchez.

For the Royal Society of Chemistry, one of the most important organizations in the field, to grant this award to Universidad de las Américas Puebla we had to meet high-quality standards in students, faculty, facilities, libraries, labs, information technology resources, and others. “We met the requirements by giving information regarding the study program, the way we teach classes and evaluate students, and the resources and infrastructure that we have,” explained the academic director.

Dr. Miguel Ángel Méndez Rojas, coordinator of the nanotechnology and molecular engineering program, and the person responsible for the accreditation process before the Royal Society of Chemistry, stated that the process was very rigorous and required the active work and collaboration of all members of the department for a period of six to eight months. Achieving this accreditation “is a recognition of the quality of the program, but mainly it allows us to access teaching and research resources through the Royal Society of Chemistry, which is one of the oldest and biggest scientific societies in the world. This accreditation will allow our students, after completing their licenciatura studies, to be accepted in the best graduate programs in the world.”

The Licenciatura in Nanotechnology and Molecular Engineering started in August 2006 and has 128 alumni in its nine generations, which makes it a pioneering program in Mexico and Latin America in this area. This accreditation reaffirms the university´s commitment to train young people who can propose innovative solutions to the needs of national and international industry and research centers.