The University of Massachusetts Lowell, in the United States, in cooperation with the nongovernmental organization Mesoamerican Development Institute, this week signed a memorandum of understanding with four Central American universities to establish a research and education consortium known as the Networked Engineering Research Center at UMass Lowell (NERC).
Civil and environmental engineering associate professor Kenneth Lee will lead the efforts to develop collaborative engineering and science projects between UMass Lowell, UMass Amherst, the National Autonomous University of Honduras, the University of the Autonomous Regions of the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua and the National University of Costa Rica.
The Technological University of Panama will join NERC when it signs the agreement later this year.
Recognizing the importance of this inter-American partnership, the National Science Foundation awarded a two-year, $45,300 grant to get the project going.
“We will focus initially on the sustainable production of biofuels and coffee as well as essential oils, which are used in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry,” Lee said.