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Left to right: Dr. Jinha Jun from TAMU-Corpus Christi School of Engineering and Computing Science, Cristina Dzul Vela and Rusel Aldance

Three students from the Mexican state of Yucatan are interned in the Soil and Crop Sciences Department this summer under the guidance of Dr. Steve Hague and Dr. Muthu Bagavathiannan.

Pablo Rosete, Cristina Dzul Vela and Rusel Moo Aldance are part of the Yucatan Initiative, a program designed to encourage more students to pursue advanced degrees in the U.S., specifically at Texas A&M University.

Each of the students has already earned at least one degree. Cristina holds a Bachelor of Science in IT Management;  Rusel holds a Bachelor of Science in IT; and Pablo has a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and a master’s degree in business which he earned at a university in Switzerland.

Each of the students had a different reason for choosing to intern with the Soil and Crop Department.

Cristine wants to help provide useful technologies in her home country.

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Left to right: Rusel, Cristina, Dr. Jun and Dr. Murilo Maeda, Asst. Research Scientist of cropping systems in Corpus Cristi

“Agriculture technology is useful in every country,” stated Cristine. “I think interest in improving agriculture is growing in our country and I wanted to see what is happening in other countries.”

Rusel grew up on a bee farm and studied agriculture technology. In Guadalajara Jalisco he worked with a company that developed drones for Mexican farms.

“I want to do that in Yucatan,” Rusel said. “Farmers there don't have the opportunity to use technology to improve their crops. I want to help do that.”

Pablo has more agriculture experience than the others. He and business partner Fredy Coral, an agriculture engineer, raise pigs and organic chickens.  While his degrees are in business and marketing, he became involved with the technology industry when he created a foundation that helps provide tablets and laptops to children in rural communities.

“So many people have no idea how to use computers,” Pablo said. “I want to learn more about technology, to see if I have the skills required.  I may want to teach, so I wanted to learn what my options are.”

“Texas A&M has a good reputation and I thought this internship would be a great opportunity to learn and improve my tech skills,” Pablo continued.  “I am very glad to be here. I can’t describe how impressed I am with the A&M. I was shocked by the feeling you have here, the 12th man and the environment. I have studied in Utah and Wisconsin and the first time I really felt that college spirit was here at A&M.”

Left to right: Pablo Rosete, Cristina Dzul Vela and Rusel Moo Aldance

The Yucatan Initiative, established in 2015, was initially an agreement between the College of Engineering and a research consortium, SIIDETEY, in Yucatan. The primary objective is to provide students an opportunity to gain practical experience applying IT to a variety of fields

Originally focused on engineering applications, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences became involved this summer to expand the program into agriculture related fields.

Sponsors intend to introduce the students to IT applications in agriculture including unmanned aerial vehicles, remote sensing, computer modeling, geospatial analyses and more.

According to Cristina, the program is available to students with a background in IT or engineering. They are required to have a basic proficiency in the English language and a good GPA. When applying, the students are also required to write an essay.

These three students were sponsored by Cámara Nacional de la Industria Electrónica, de Telecomunicaciones y Tecnologías de la Información (The National Chamber of the Electronics, Telecommunications and Information Technology), CANIETI. This organization has more than a thousand affiliated companies in Mexico and, according to their website, serves to represent the interests of the industry at the highest levels of the government.

CANIETI’s main goal is to boost the growth and competitiveness of the Mexican electronics, telecommunications, and information technologies industry.

As one means of achieving this goal, they sponsor the students for the 11-week internship at TAMU where they assist with research, study for graduate entrance exams and strengthen their proficiency with the English language.

“There are 46 students taking part in the program, 25 from Yucatan and 21 from the other Mexican states,” Cristina said. “The Yucatan government is very supportive of this program.”

After completing the internship, the students plan to take the GRE and graduate school application process. They hope to begin working on the next degree by the fall of 2017.