Wednesday, November 4, 2015

UNITEC Honduras Signs MOU with the Jacobs School of Engineering

Last week, the von Liebig Entrepreneurism Center hosted representatives from the Universidad Tecnologica Centroamericana UNITEC, Honduras and Agile Solutions who visited UCSD to learn about its programs, research and capabilities. During their short, two-day trip, UNITEC met with over 18 different faculty and program directors to explore potential collaboration opportunities.

As part of their visit, UNITEC President Luis O. Zelaya Medrano signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding with Jacobs School Dean Albert P. Pisano to strengthen the entrepreneurial capacity of students and faculty at UNITEC, promote faculty and student exchanges and support the creation of entrepreneurial programs that extend job opportunities around ICT and digital animation for young people at risk.  
“This is the beginning of a long term relationship,” UNITEC President Zelaya said. “And this is very important for us. It’s a work in process, but it can change everything.”

UNITEC is the largest private university in Honduras with over 24,000 students. Its academic programs are focused on the contribution of professionals in the areas of business and engineering, offering 20 undergraduate programs and 8 master's programs. UNITEC is a member of the Laureate's network of more than 80 campus-based and online universities that offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs to over a million students around the world.

“My vision is to create the best university in Central America,” President Zelaya said. “We have had great improvements in the last ten years, but the university is still young. And in the last 30 years, we have had to build the most prestigious university in the country.”
President Zelaya has dedicated his life to education in order to elevate the quality of life in Honduras. “All my professional life has been in education. I was an entrepreneur and had my own company, but I always tied it back to the university,” said Zelaya. “I truly believe that education is the way that our country could be better. Education changes lives. More than 50 percent of our students are the first member of their families to get a degree. This is a big change for the country, for the people’s lives and their families. A country with many needs and difficulties needs a quality education.”

This past September 2015, UNITEC invited UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering Entrepreneurism and Leadership Programs Senior Executive Director Rosibel Ochoa to give the commencement speech at their 2015 Graduation Ceremony. During her visit, UNITEC’s President expressed interest in working with the Jacobs School of Engineering and the von Liebig Center on joint programs around strengthening the innovation ecosystem in Honduras, fostering entrepreneurship in the university and increasing the number of computer science and graduates at the University. 

As a native of Honduras, Dr. Ochoa has been eager to put her heart into the initiative. She believes that this partnership can have a remarkable impact on her country, as Honduras suffers as the second poorest country in Central America.
“We have a champion here in Rosibel… and we have a group here [at UC San Diego] advancing our mission,” President Zelaya said. 

Recently, the World Bank in Honduras has expressed interest in having UNITEC lead an initiative that will focus on support digital animation and entrepreneurship as a means to provide employment for youth at risk as well as promote technology entrepreneurship in the country. At UNITEC, they have been supporting entrepreneurship through the university’s pillars, curriculum and outside partnerships to expand on what they can teach in the classrooms. One major partnership has been with Brazilian company, Agile Solutions. “Honduras is a very small country, so we need to think about the global market,” President Zelaya said. “We prepare our students to compete in the global market, to compete in Computer Science as engineers and graphic designers and telecommunications, and that’s where Agile comes in.” The group explained that to make a long lasting impact in Honduras, another goal is to well prepare and inspire students to believe they can and are qualified to work anywhere. Agile Founding Partner, President and CEO Carlos Cruz is interested in collaborating with UNITEC because he sees great demand, potential and talent in the country. “When we want to do something really bold, we’ll go to Honduras and they’ll say ‘we’ll do it.’”

UNITEC and Agile were also particularly interested in entrepreneurship and energy, as they believe UC San Diego’s exceptional departments can have a strong influence and immediate effect in Honduras. The representatives emphasized that UC San Diego’s microgrid and research on renewable energy can help provide electricity in many of the rural areas of the country.

The von Liebig Entrepreneurism Center is proud to have helped facilitate such an important international collaboration and looks forward to seeing the programs that the Jacobs School and UNITEC will achieve together.

For more information, contact the von Liebig Entrepreneurism Center at

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