PUCRS and US students debate biotechnology solutions to world hunger

The course has held in partnership with the Catholic University of America, from the United States

01/07/2021 - 14h30

Photo: Personal archive

The course Engineering the Future: Biotechnology Solutions to World Challenges held in partnership with the Catholic University of America (CUA), from the United States, brought together 25 Brazilian and North American students from several areas of education in a virtual exchange held in COIL (Collaborative Online International Learning) format. The initiative was led by professors Allan Morcelli and Gustavo Roth, from School of Tecnology, and by CUA professor Otto Wilson.

In all, there were six synchronous meetings via Zoom, with a methodology that promoted the active participation of students in class discussions. The theme of this edition was How can biotechnology help end world hunger? The students were divided into groups mixing students from both universities and they had to elaborate a proposal to address the problem of world hunger using biotechnology solutions.

Innovative solutions

After a group discussion mentored by the professors, the students built a final 10-minute presentation with a proposal in which they exposed their innovative projects, addressing 5 aspects: Engineering, Entrepreneurship, Ethics, Economic/Social and Environmental.

According to the professors, the students presented high-quality proposals for the future: production of biofertilizers from food waste, a superflour made from fruits and vegetables, nutrient-rich compact food, a superfood in the form of edible spheres, and nutritional yeast produced from lignocellulosic materials. “Students were highly engaged with the active methodology proposed,” Roth highlights. They also prepared an abstract presenting their proposals. The best abstracts will be sent to the CUA Research Day for publication.

“At the end of the course, the students showed their satisfaction and the success of the proposal by emphasizing that they would like to have more such opportunities for virtual international mobility, and with longer duration”, says Morcelli. In addition to the great experience, the participants enriched their CVs with an international studies certificate jointly issued by PUCRS and the North American institution.