Writer: Adriana M. Chavez
Four New Mexico State University students majoring in chemical and materials engineering will travel to Azerbaijan July 4 and spend two weeks studying energy and environmental issues, among other topics.
The students, Joshua Alcala, Mansour Saberi, Anna Malakian and Swagotom Sarker, were accepted to the Baku Summer Energy School at ADA University in Azerbaijan, near the Caspian Sea. The program will focus on the Caspian Basin, including regional pipeline network development, geopolitics of the Caspian area and its legal status and the strategic outlook of SOCAR, or the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic.
The school is sponsored by Exxon Mobil and other organizations. Alcala, Saberi, Malakian and Sarker have each received scholarships from NMSU’s International and Border Programs; David A. Rockstraw, the academic department head of the Chemical and Materials Engineering Department; and the Association of the Friends of Azerbaijan, which has been affiliated with NMSU since January.
Upon completion of the program, participants will be issued a certificate signed by the Rector of ADA University and the president of State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic.
“It was a unique opportunity,” said Alcala, who is studying for his master’s degree. “One of the biggest things, besides it being paid for, was that it’s our cup of tea. It’s a hard event to pass up.”
Participants will hear from world-renowned scholars in the field of energy and environment, along with ministers and heads of governmental agencies and oil company executives.
“The Baku Summer Energy School represents a great opportunity for NMSU chemical and materials engineering graduate students to learn of the scale and extent of the energy industry,” said Rockstraw, who is also NMSU’s Robert Davis Distinguished Professor and the NMSU Distinguished Achievement Professor. “They will learn directly from those in responsible charge within the industry. Participating CHME graduate students will gain a wealth of understanding and experience that cannot be harvested from a textbook or an academic research lab, they will be humbled by the size of the equipment sets needed to bring energy to the population, and will gain an appreciation of the cost associated with designing and building these facilities.”
Malakian, a doctoral student, said she hopes to learn more about environmental issues, especially how Azerbaijan deals with oil waste polluting the Caspian Sea.
“It will be useful to see how they manage waste treatment,” Malakian said. “And one of the most important parts of chemical engineering is energy. Maybe (the program) can help us use their knowledge in the U.S., since (Azerbaijan) is one of the richest countries in oil.”
The NMSU students said they hope to share what they learn at the Baku Summer Energy School with other students, including undergraduate students majoring in chemical and materials engineering.