UAQ (Universidad Autónomo de Querétaro)

There are 11 new Peace Corps trainees going through Pre-service Training (PST) with us.  Of those, 7 of us will be working for CONACYT, the Mexican government agency responsible for science & technology.  The rest will be working for SEMARNAT, the agency responsible for environmental issues.  Our current job training is focused on the type of work we will be doing.  For example, those of us who will be working for CONACYT are learning about technology transfer, a new focus for the Peace Corps here in Mexico. 

As part of this training, we are spending two afternoons a week at a local university teaching 30 mostly engineering students about marketing, finance, product development and feasibility studies.  Each of us has been responsible for a 2-hour class – combining lectures with various participatory techniques.  For my class, I (Julie) talked about the steps needed to determine whether an invention is viable or not, i.e., examining the competition in the market, determining customer demand, and developing a basic prototype.  I also discussed the importance of patent protection and the types available.  The students are eager to learn about these subjects and have actively participated in the sessions.

In addition to these classroom sessions, each of us have been assigned to a team of 4-5 students.  Each team has invented a product for which they will write a feasibility study by the end of the term.  My team (the black team) has come up with the idea of a device that measures the amount of water used in the shower, sink, laundry to reduce the usage, and, therefore the cost.  The device would signal once a pre-set limit is reached and would turn off the flow of water.  I am advising them about how to search for products with similar patents, how to determine your customer base, how to calculate the costs of developing and selling a product, etc.  It has been a very rewarding experience.


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