Learn about renewable energy technologies in one of the few countries in Latin America that has taken a concerted structural approach to the issue of sustainable development- Costa Rica!
Costa Rica is well known as a world leader for conservation policies and eco-tourism, however the Central American country also stands out for its environmentally oriented policies and its success in mainstreaming energy sustainability into national policy. Renewable energy sources are essentially carbon-free and more sustainable than fossil or nuclear fuels. Currently, 99.2% of the total primary energy supply in Costa Rica is of renewable type, with geothermal accounting for over a third, hydroelectric dependency not exceeding 50%, and a very small share from fossil fuels (0.6% non-sustainable biomass, and 0.2% from oil). Costa Rica also aims to cut its net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by its 200th birthday in 2021.
This program reflects the remarkable progress that has been made in the field in recent years and is focused on learning through hands-on work. Students will spend about one-third of the time in "the classroom," studying renewable energy systems, their underlying physical and technological principles, their economics, their environmental impact, and how they can be integrated into the world's energy systems. The rest of the time students will be in the field, getting their hands dirty and learning by doing. They will visit many sites including, but not limited to: a coffee plantation, Arenal National Park, hydro-electric and geothermal power plants, and a wind farm.
All students are required to take 3 credits.
PHYS 299 or SC 297 (3 credits)
Students can choose whether they would like to take this course as PHYS 299 or SC 297. This course deals with the issues of renewable resources and sustainable energy. Students will perform an objective analysis on each form of renewable energy to determine what is practical on a large scale, as well as on the scale of the individual homeowner. In many developing countries the deterioration of renewable natural resources and the resulting threat to human well-being is a major concern, so there will be a particular attention to the efficiency of each renewable source as well as what limitations exist in terms of extracting usable energy.
At the end of this course students should be able to:
- Have an understanding of the various renewable energy sources
- Analyze what is feasible on the large scale and what is not
- Understand the obstacles associated with actual implementation of production line renewable energy facilities
- Perform simple calculations regarding energy usage and the required infrastructure to deliver a certain amount of power
You will receive credit for all academic courses taken at this institution, and all of your grades from abroad will count toward your Penn State cumulative GPA. You may not take any courses overseas on a Pass/Fail basis. Students may not take sport or physical activity courses (e.g. sailing, bowling, yoga, etc.) abroad. These courses will not be credited at Penn State.
There are no pre-requisite course requirements for this program.
The program will change locations every three or four days. Students will stay at hotels in multiple cities across Costa Rica. There will also be a weeklong homestay experience in Santa Ana during the second week of the program.
Students will need to purchase most meals on their own, although some will be provided by host families during the homestay.
For more information on program costs, please be sure to review the budget sheet. These budget sheets include information on costs that are billable to the bursar bill, as well as estimated additional costs. Costs vary by program, so it is important to review this information carefully.
Please note that tuition rates may vary depending on major and class standing.
The University Office of Global Programs also administers a number of grants and scholarships. Eligibility is based on academic excellence and/or financial need. There is also funding available for study abroad programs in diverse locations and for students from diverse backgrounds. In most cases, applicants should have a current year FAFSA on file with the Office of Student Aid. Funding opportunities may also be available through Penn State academic departments. For detailed information on financial aid and scholarship opportunities and application procedures, please visit the Funding Study Abroad section of the Global Penn State website.
For more information, please contact Miguel Mostafa, the faculty leader for this program in the Physics Department. You may also schedule an appointment with the education abroad adviser for this program.
If you would like to participate on this study abroad program, you will need to apply to Penn State Education Abroad by clicking the "Apply Now" button on this page.
You must complete the following materials in your application:
- Education Abroad Questionnaire
- One academic recommendation
- Signature Documents
Visit the How to Apply section of our website for more information.
Opens for Summer 2018 applications on October 1st. Application deadline: February 1, 2018
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