Grant supports international experience in renewable energy

December 3, 2018
UW-Platteville students visiting Brazil.
Brazilian students visiting UW-Platteville.

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. – Students from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, in Argentina, will partake in an international exchange to share ideas on renewable energy topics. Dr. Samir El-Omari, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering with a focus in sustainability and renewable energy systems, was awarded the 100,000 Strong in the Americas grant.

The grant will allow four UW-Platteville students to travel to Argentina during the summer of 2019 and four Argentinian students to travel to Platteville in the fall of 2019. Each university will also have the opportunity to send one professor for a week to give workshops and presentations.

El-Omari started communications with the Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata while attending a conference and partnered with them shortly after. El-Omari has led previous programs in Brazil and Germany, focusing on bio, solar, wind and water energy as well as renewable energy and green building respectively. He is currently working towards gaining partnerships with universities in the Middle East.

The students who travel to Mar del Plata will be assisting with the project plan to remodel a government building in Buenos Aires. They will analyze the efficiency and do energy auditing together with Argentinian students, and at the end of the trip, the students will suggest measures to improve the efficiency of the building. UW-Platteville students will start working remotely on this project during the spring semester.

The students from Argentina will take courses in green building design with El-Omari, and they will work alongside UW-Platteville students on the sustainability and renewable energy systems senior design projects.

“This is a great exchange opportunity in the area of energy with Latin America because Latin American countries are developing, but they are also doing a great job with sustainability,” El-Omari said. “Students get to see how developing countries are doing a great job in this area, and this experience will help to widen their ideas when they come back to the U.S.”

El-Omari said the grant offers many benefits to the students. Along with gaining international work experience and having the opportunity to work with and learn from professors and students, they are exposed to a new culture and way of life. He also said that students with international experience are more attractive to employers and the experience makes them unique.

Last year’s trip to Brazil has left lasting impacts on the students. Rebecca Nicholson, senior sustainable and renewable energy systems major, said the trip was an amazing experience both culturally and educationally.

“Working with the University of Sao Paulo’s energy department was incredible. They are exploring new renewable energy topics and increasing the efficiency of established power generation methods like solar and hydro. We were also able to visit some truly beautiful places, like Trindade and Pedra da Macela,” Nicholson said.

Sustainable and renewable energy systems major Noah Fox said that traveling abroad gave him a new perspective on life and has given him the confidence to take a job anywhere after graduation.

“It was a great experience for me to grow, being so far away from everything familiar – family, friends, restaurants, you name it,” Fox said.

The 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation fund is partnered with the United States Department of State, NAFSA and Partners of the America. The foundation’s main goal is to increase the annual number of U.S. students who are studying in Latin American countries to 100,000 and bring 100,000 students to the United States by 2020. More information on the foundation can be found at

For more information on the exchange program or the application, contact Dr. Samir El-Omari at or 608-342-6170.

Written by: Abbey Pignatari, Student Writer, Communications, 608-342-1194,


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