UT joins forces with Mexico in search for clean energy

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Monterrey Tech in Nuevo León joins forces with UT to improve Mexico’s clean energy sector,

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Monterrey Tech

A gray blanket settles over a rapidly expanding Mexico City as factories and automobiles continue to pump noxious levels of carbon dioxide emissions into the air. A few months ago, the city’s government surpassed the recommended ozone limits set by the World Health Organization — the first time in a decade. 

Reinforcing a 50-year relationship, UT signed an agreement with Nuevo Leon university Monterrey Tech earlier this month. The partnership aims to help Mexico in its goals to develop a clean and sustainable model of renewable energy and electric power. 

Jorge Pinon, director of the UT Latin American and Caribbean Energy program, said a reason for Mexico’s high pollution levels lies in the country’s shortage of clean and renewable energy sources. 

“Mexico relies mainly on imports from the United States for their natural gas and other materials,” Pinon said. 

To help facilitate their transition to clean energy, the Mexican government passed the General Climate Change Law, which affirms the intent to increase electricity generated from clean and renewable energy sources, rather than from fossil fuels. The goals are ambitious, with clean energy targets set at 35 percent by 2024 and 50 percent by 2050.  

“These are extremely severe goals,” Pinon said. “To help Mexico, we are cooperating on a number of fields, specifically natural gas and renewable sources of energy like wind power. We are also relying on our relationship in education and research.” 

Monterrey Tech president Salvador Alva said in a recent press release that the institution will rely on the assistance of UT faculty and resources to improve electric power in Mexico. 

“We are delighted with the strengthening of a relationship that will generate joint world-class research, education and long-lasting impact to our societies,” Alva said.

UT has a decades-long history of educational and scientific partnership with Mexico, as UT President Gregory Fenves said in a recent press release.

“Scholars, scientists and students on both sides of the Texas-Mexico border have long cultivated exchanges, partnerships and research collaborations that leverage the region’s shared history to foster new knowledge and improve our world,” Fenves said.

Linking Monterrey Tech with more than 100 faculty members at UT, the partnership will conduct joint faculty and student exchange programs, conferences, seminars and research on electric power, all of which will be managed by UT’s Energy Institute.

Pinon, who works on the program, said it will give students in both Texas and Mexico the opportunity to involve themselves in the process.

“Much of the initiative is really centered around research and education projects,” Pinon said. 

Home to more Mexican scholars with Fulbright fellowships than any other university in the United States, UT is one of the top educational institutions for Mexican students. 

But despite the number of Mexican students at UT, Pinon said he has noticed that the majority of immigrants who pursue higher education in the United States are neither Mexican nor Latin American.

“Most international students are from China, India and South Korea,” Pinon said. “We would like to increase the number of Mexican and Latin American students that attend UT and other higher universities.”

Plan II and business honors freshman Jannelly Areche said she has noticed an active, albeit smaller, community of Hispanic students on campus and hopes that this community continues to grow. 

“Many Hispanic students have taken up leadership roles in organizations and are determined to get involved on campus,” Areche said. “I think it is great that UT partnered with Monterrey Tech … it sends the message to our Mexican students that UT values them and cares about them."