Posts about Mexico

Appropriate Technology Brings a $1.30/month Cell Phone Plan to Remote Village

I love this kind of stuff: smart use of engineering provides cell phone service to remote Mexican village, with 9,000 residents, for $1.30/month (1/13 of the price charge by traditional cell phone service in Mexico City).

The town that Carlos Slim forgot

It”™s so remote that there was no cell service. In stepped Rhizomatica, a nonprofit with the goal of increasing “access to mobile telecommunications to the over two billion people without affordable coverage and the 700 million with none at all.”

The U.S. and European experts working with Mexican engineers got the network set up by March of this year. At first, they ruled that phone calls were not to be longer than five minutes each to keep the small network from getting saturated.

By May, local numbers in Mexico City, Los Angeles and Seattle were set up, meaning that Oaxacans in Villa Talea could call relatives in the capital or in California as if it were practically a local call, a few cents a minute.

Given the success they are buying equipment that can handle the volume and will donate the existing equipment to setup a new village (a smaller one, I imagine). This was the first village they setup.

Long-distance is go

After almost two months of fine-tuning, long-distance service is finally ready to launch. This means folks in the town will be able to call out of the coverage area (only around 5-10km) to any phone, anywhere. Likewise we purchased a few DID numbers which allow people to call a Mexico City, Los Angeles or Seattle number and connect right to the village.

This is one of so many great efforts to use appropriate technology to improve people’s lives. It is easy for me to get frustrated at the cash for votes mentality of the USA politicians which creates policies against improvement for society and for protection of obsolete business models (until the bought-and-paid-for politicians make the business models sustainable by legislating against better options). It is great to see these kind of examples for the good work being done outside of the political sphere.

Related: Pay as You Go Solar in IndiaProviding Computer to Remote Students in NepalReducing Poverty Using EntrepreneurshipMonopolies and Oligopolies do not a Free Market Make

Top Countries for Science and Math Education: Finland, Hong Kong and Korea

The 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)* report has been released. The report examines the science of 15 year olds from 57 countries in math, science and reading. The main focus of PISA 2009 was reading. The survey also updated performance assessments in mathematics and science.

The Asian countries continue to do very well for several reason including tutoring; they have even turned tutors into rock stars earning millions of dollars. The results show that the focus on student achievement in sciences has had an impact in Asia.

The emphasis is on mastering processes, understanding concepts and functioning in various contexts within each assessment area. the PISA 2012 survey will return to mathematics as the major assessment area, PISA 2015 will focus on science.

Results for the Science portion (rank – country – mean score)(I am not listing all countries):

  • 1 – Finland – 554
  • 2 – Hong Kong – 549
  • 3 – Japan – 539
  • 4 – Korea – 538
  • 5 – New Zealand – 532
  • 6 – Canada – 529
  • 7 – Estonia – 528
  • 8 – Australia – 527
  • 9 – Netherlands – 522
  • 10 – Taiwan – 520
  • 11 – Germany – 520
  • 14 – United Kingdom – 514
  • 21 – USA – 502 (up from 489 and 29th place in 2006)
  • OECD average – 501
  • 25 – France – 498
  • 46 – Mexico – 416
  • 49 – Brazil – 405

Results for the math portion (rank – country – mean score)(I am not listing all countries):
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Giant Duck-Billed Dinosaur Discovered in Mexico

“‘We only know about 29 percent of all dinosaurs out there to be found,’ said study co-author Peter Dodson, a paleobiologist and anatomy professor at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.” I found this quote to be surprising when I first wrote about it in 2006: Most Dinosaurs Remain Undiscovered. Yet we keep getting new discoveries announced (New Triceratops AncestorNigersaurus the Mesozoic Cow!) showing, while I was surprised, the scientists knew what they were talking about.

Giant Duck-Billed Dino Discovered in Mexico

The discovery of the 72-million-year-old fossil adds to the rich gallery of dinosaurs that scientists now know lived in western North America during the latter part of the dinosaur era. The new species was dubbed Velafrons coahuilensis in honor of the state of Coahuila in north-central Mexico where the fossil was found.

Reaching lengths up to 35 feet (10.5 meters) long, the newfound dino was a plant-eater belonging to a group of duck-billed dinosaurs, or hadrosaurs, that roamed the region together with carnivores like tyrannosaurs and velociraptors.

Related: Dakosaurus andiniensis100 Dinosaur Eggs

Ranking Universities Worldwide

The Webometrics Ranking of World Universities provides another estimate of the top universities. The methodology is far ideal however I still find it interesting. The various attempts to rank schools can provide a general idea of impact of various institutions (though the measures are fairly crude). Still a sensible picture (especially at the country level) can emerge. And the various rankings should be a able to track shifts in the most influential institutions and relative country strength over time. How quickly those rankings track changes will vary depending on the measures used. I would imagine most will lag the “real” changes as it is easy to imagine many measures that would lag. Still, as I have said before, I expect the USA will lose in relative ranking compared to China, India, Japan, Singapore, Mexico…

The ranking methodology used here weighed rankings in: Jiao Tong academic rankings, Essential Science Indicators, Google Scholar, Alexa (a measure of web site visits to universities) and The Times Higher World University Rankings.

Country representation of the top universities (number of top schools in each country):

location Webometrics
Top 100
Jiao Tong
Top 101
% of World
Population
% of World GDP*
USA 53 54   4.6%   30.4%
Germany 10   5  1.3   6.3
Canada   8   4  0.5   2.5
United Kingdom   6 10  0.9   5.0
Australia   3   2  0.3   1.6
Japan   1   6 2.0 10.3
The rest of Europe 16 13
Brazil   1   0   2.8   1.8
Mexico   1   0   1.6   1.7
Israel   0   1   0.1   0.3

* IMF, World Economic Outlook Database, September 2006 (2005 data)
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Mexican Engineering Brain Drain

Network to curb Mexican brain drain by Kathleen Miller

Mexico hopes its nascent high-tech sector can create good jobs and help diversify the economy at a time when rising wages for low-skill labor are driving textile and assembly factories to poorer nations in Asia and Central America.

A recent analysis by Mexican and U.S. immigration experts found that nearly a third of all Mexicans with advanced degrees leave Mexico for the U.S.

Camacho, who heads the program”™s pioneering Silicon Valley chapter, says the idea arose during a 2004 meeting between Mexican President Vicente Fox and the chief executive of major chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices Inc., Hector Ruiz, who was born in Mexico but studied engineering in the United States and went on to build a career there.

Mexico”™s government has sponsored conferences for the network, but Camacho says the group is growing more by word of mouth. His Silicon Valley chapter holds regular meetings to share ideas and there are plans for similar groups in other U.S. cities.

Related: Mexico Graduating Large Numbers of EngineersEngineering Jobs in Mexicoposts on science and engineering contributions to the economy

Mexico: Pumping Out Engineers

Mexico: Pumping Out Engineers

Currently, 451,000 Mexican students are enrolled in full-time undergraduate programs, vs. just over 370,000 in the U.S. The Mexican students benefit from high-tech equipment and materials donated to their schools by foreign companies, which help develop course content to fit their needs. Many of these engineers graduate knowing how to use the latest computer-assisted design (CAD) software and speaking fluent English.

Another country on the engineering education bandwagon for economic growth.

Those figures are quite impressive. I would like to see what Vivek Wadhwa (one of the authors of the Duke study: USA Under-counting Engineering Graduates) says about the comparability of the figures. Still, the number of engineering undergraduate students in Mexico surprises me; this is one more indication of how many people see the value of engineering education.

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