I Give

1998-1999

WPI Students Work on Projects in Costa Rica This Summer

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE/
Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica - This summer, a local student is taking part in Worcester Polytechnic Institute's Costa Rica Project Center. WPI students, led by Professor Susan Vernon-Gerstenfeld, have undertaken numerous development projects in San Jose, Costa Rica. Each summer, a number of WPI students choose to perform their required project work in this stable democracy. They work in variety of settings ranging from rain forests to local manufacturing plants, international companies, non-profit organizations and Costa Rican government offices. Here is a look at the projects WPI students are working on this summer in Costa Rica:

  • At the Museo Nacional, attendance has dropped dramatically over the past several years. WPI students have surveyed tourist agencies and tourists in the San Jose area to determine what the reasons behind the drop off. They also have studied the exhibits and made recommendations for modernizing the presentation of material. Students involved are Jeffrey Haynes of Bedford, Mass., a senior majoring in electrical engineering and the son of Mr. and Mrs. William Haynes; Noah Lawrence-Slavas of Shutesbury, Mass., a senior mechanical engineering major and the son of Mr. and Mrs. James Slavas; and Edwin Mercado of Lawrence, Mass., a junior electrical engineering major and the son of Mr. and Mrs. Rafael Mercado.

  • In a project at Baxter Health Care, WPI students have compared Baxter's practices to those deemed "world-class plants" by Business Week magazine. They have made recommendations for improvements and have developed the framework for a database that would help Baxter measure its practices on a continual basis to maintain progress toward attaining that world-class category. Students Moses McCall of Lowell, Mass., a junior electrical engineering major and the son of Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth McCall; and Logan Yanson of Schenectady, N.Y., a senior mechanical engineering major and the son of Mr. and Mrs. Reginald Yanson, have worked on the Baxter project.

    A second project at Baxter Health Care involves the study of the changeover times and practices for manufacturing lines in order to recommend more efficient practices. Students involved in this project are Angela Malaquias of Ludlow, Mass., a management engineering major and the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James Malaquias; and Oliver Klofpstein of Guayaquil, Ecuador, a senior management engineering major and the son of Mr. and Mrs. Hugo Klofpstein.

  • At Altas Electrica, two projects have involved the study of energy conservation and water conservation in Atlas' manufacturing plant. Working on energy conservation are Rebecca Coury of Royal Oak, Mich., a junior biotechnology major and the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Michael Coury; Sonja Farak of Portsmouth, R.I., a senior biochemistry major and the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Farak; and Makoto Waseba of Tochigi, Japan, a senior computer science major.

    At work on the Atlas Electrica water conservation project are Brian McElhinney of Portland, Maine, a senior biochemistry major and the son of Mr. and Mrs. Donald McElhinney; Katrina Miller of Helena, Mont., a senior chemistry major and the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ronald D. Miller; and Jill Eastman of Windham, Maine, a junior management engineering major and the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Linwood Eastman.

  • WPI's Rain Forest Arial Tram project has studied the feasibility of establishing an animal rescue center for injured or illegally captured wild animals and birds. The WPI students have made recommendations as well for the integration of zoological exhibits in the rain forest of animals that cannot be returned to the wild.

    Students working on the rehab center project include Jami Ricard of Spencer, Mass., a junior biology major and the daughter of Cheryl Ricard; Nicole Buote of Centreville, Va., a junior biotechnology major and the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert John Buote; and Erin Convery of Hartland, Mich., a junior biology major and the daughter of Patricia Convery.

    Working on a second Rain Forest Arial Tram project, which aims to develop a series of activities to augment the experience for tourists visiting the ecological site, are Frederick Tan of Trumbull, Conn., a junior biotechnology major and the son of Dr. and Mrs. Jose Manuel Tan; John Lee of Tilton, N.H., a junior computer science major and the son of Mr. and Mrs. Spencer Lee; and Stacey Leisenfelder of Latham, N.Y., a junior biology major and the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Leisenfelder.

  • In another project being completed for Dole-Standard Fruit, WPI students have studied energy conservation in the Dole banana plantations. A second Dole project has studied the feasibility of implementing changes in fertilizing techniques, taking into account worker safety and efficiency.

    Working on the conservation project are Felipe Guelfi of Montevideo, Uruguay, a junior management engineering major and the son of Mr. and Mrs. Manuel Guelfi; Tien Vu of Springfield, Mass., a junior computer science major and the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. David Vu; and Heather Moran of Bennington, N.H., a senior biology major and the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Moran.

    Working on the fertilizer project are Patty DeChristopher of Export, Pa., a junior chemistry major and the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jeffrey DeChristopher; Katie Gagnon of Coventry, Conn., a senior civil engineering major and the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Donald G. Gagnon; and Valerie Vadurro of Bedford, N.H., a junior biomedical engineering major and the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Vadurro.

  • In a project at the Lankester Botanical Garden, WPI students have continued a marketing study begun last year to determine how the garden can become economically self-sufficient while continuing to provide scientific research to the University of Costa Rica. Working on this project are Vanessa Melanson of Pittsfield, Mass., a junior biotechnology major and the daughter of Gail Polidoro-Hover; Loren Gordon of Woodlake, Calif., a senior electrical engineering major and the son of Mr. and Mrs. James H. Towers; Kevin Dickert of North Grafton, Mass., a junior mechanical engineering major and the son of Mr. and Mrs. Harold Dickert; and Jennifer Hardy of North Chelmsford, Mass., a junior electrical engineering major and the daughter of Arlene Hardy.

  • In a project conducted at the Instituto National de Seguros, WPI students have looked at U.S. fire safety codes while studying various institutions in different regions of the country in order to make recommendations regarding fire safety code changes in Costa Rica. The students involved are Michael Sao Pedro of Revere, Mass., a junior computer science major and the son of Mr. and Mrs. Carlos Sao Pedro; and Tanya Theriault of Pensacola, Fla., a senior biotechnology major and the daughter of Megan Theriault.

  • At the Instituto Costaricense de Electricidad, WPI students have done a widespread study on customer satisfaction and national cultural variation in the face of impending partial privatization of the governmental monopoly. This project aimed to make recommendations for instituting new technologies. Students working on this project include Marco Fontecchio of Westwood, Mass., a junior mechanical engineering major and the son of Mr. and Mrs. Lino Fontecchio; Candemir Orson of Kocaeli, Turkey, a junior electrical engineering major and the son of Ali Orson; and Sara Briggs of Windsor, Mass., a junior chemistry major and the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Donald Briggs.

WPI, founded in 1865, is renowned for its project-based curriculum. Under the WPI Plan, students integrate classroom studies with research projects conducted on campus and around the world.