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M. Rius-García1, C. Rius-Alonso2

1Newcastle University (UNITED KINGDOM)
2Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (MEXICO)
Training students in solving real problems is one of the most effective teaching tools we have found.

In our course of applied chemistry, we teach students how to solve a particular problem, from the analysis of necessities to the implementation of solutions, using mainly the searching tools available at the University.

An important component in this work was the inter-institutional collaboration, between the National University of Mexico and the University of Newcastle (UK)

The topic was to find a way of using a natural resource to be develop in Mexico.
A group Student presented a study: The geothermal energy has been scarcely developed in Mexico. This brings a window of opportunity; the potential use of replacing the fossil energy sources for electricity generation is very large, geothermic energy is unique among the renewable sources of generating electricity at a constant rate. Students received a continuous supervision of their tutors during the course.

The study reviewed the contribution of different case studies of the small-size geothermal power plant which satisfy the electric power and thermal demand around the world. The first part of the study was toward identified the best place to use geothermal energy in small scale to untapped the great potential of geothermic energy for direct use in Mexico. For this study, the ideal area was located at Los Cabos in Baja California.

The skill developed among the students during the problem-solving approach was important to find a solution in an integral way, from; conception, finding information, assessing the problem, solving the technological goals and finding a positive economic outcome.

Teaching student how to solve practical problems in an inter-institutional environment is a way of incentive for a better understanding on the topic they are learning. The self-satisfaction of contributing with a positive answer to a real problem is very rewarding. The most important contribution in the course was the self-satisfaction of the students to learn they are able to solve even difficult problems that have a direct impact on their community.