UAE students visit Varanasi, Patna for green lessons

For the first time, visits to rural communities in Varanasi and Patna have become part of the curriculum of a UAE-based university that focuses on advanced energy and sustainable technologies.

Student teams from Masdar Institute of Science and Technology travelled to Varanasi and Patna for projects on gasification of rice husk for power generation, increasing access to primary education and healthcare, and community development through micro-credit and self-help groups.

As part of the energy and poverty solutions course, a student team from the graduate-level university in Abu Dhabi addressed issues of child labour and primary education and investigated micro-credit and self-help groups for women empowerment with multiple organisations in Varanasi.

In Patna, two student teams worked with Husk Power Systems to improve their technical gassifier system as well as their business model. A third student team examined local healthcare services in order to understand the issues surrounding healthcare and delivery in Bihar.

“The field trips to India and other sites have offered students a glimpse into the lives of the poor – their challenges and vulnerabilities, as well as their assets and talents. Sustainable development in this context can only be achieved by building capacity and strengthening institutions,” Dr Scott Kennedy, dean of research, Masdar Institute, said.

Over the past three years, students of EAPS course under the engineering systems and management programme have visited rural communities in north India, Sabah in Malaysia, and Lusaka, in Zambia.

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