September 2017, Puerto Rico was hit by not only one but two major Hurricanes, Irma and Maria, leaving the island devastated. Almost a year after these crippling hurricanes the island is still trying to recover. Three Illinois Tech students, Christopher Riley (ME), Lukasz Kupiec (CE), and Zachary Anderson (CHE) embarked on a two week immersive course “Sustainable Construction and Development in Puerto Rico” to learn first hand how the hurricanes affected the island and its communities and how engineers can design buildings and infrastructure with greater resilience to future hurricanes.
The students studied at the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico, learning about Sustainable Construction Development, Climate and Weather Patterns, Risk and Resiliency and , Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Methodology and Building Evaluations. Outside of the classroom the students worked in the field on special projects with the Municipality of Caguas to observe the damage to communities and structures, identify potential improvements to mitigate hurricane damage, and develop LEED initiatives.
“This experience allowed me to learn about the tragedy that Puerto Rico went through and how to move forward with improvements and new ideas. Working with a team in the real world on a real project was awesome and gave me a taste of the kind of things I’d like to do with my career in the future” (Lukasz).
Watch the panel discussion moderated by Dean Natacha DePaola, about the experiences and outcomes that Christopher, Lukasz, and Zachary took from their Summer Immersion in Puerto Rico.