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Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje (SENA) Funds New Partnerships Between Community Colleges and Universities in the United States and Colombia

100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund Announces Grant Winning Institutions

Bogotá, May 16, 2017. The U.S. Department of State, Partners of the Americas, and NAFSA: Association of International Educators announced the latest 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund grant winners sponsored by Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje (SENA).

The goal of 100,000 Strong in the Americas, the leading education initiative in the Western Hemisphere, is to increase the annual number of U.S. students studying in Latin America and the Caribbean to 100,000, and bring 100,000 students to the United States by 2020. Innovation Fund grants fuel strategic new partnerships among higher education institutions in the United States and the rest of the Western Hemisphere to create innovative and sustainable student exchange and training programs. Since January 2014, Innovation Fund grants have been strengthening institutional capacity, increasing student mobility, providing more training opportunities, and enhancing regional education cooperation in the Americas.

This is the second Innovation Fund grant competition supported by SENA since 2015 and has facilitated 13 new higher education partnerships to date. These latest partnerships between 8 U.S. community colleges and land grant colleges and universities and 8 SENA centers are providing more dynamic exchange and training opportunities for students in agriculture, aquaculture, biotechnology, environment, engineering, ICT, tourism, and gastronomy.

The eight Innovation Fund grants announced today for higher education institutions in the United States and Colombia will continue groundbreaking exchange programs that allow students to work in teams, gain technical skills, and become more competent for the global 21st century workforce. Innovation Fund grants are $25,000 each, and grant-winning university teams contribute additional resources to leverage and implement unique short-term study abroad programs in the Western Hemisphere. With these new partnership awards, approximately 122 more students will be able to participate in study abroad programs in the United States and Colombia.

New Innovation Fund grants sponsored by SENA will be awarded to:

Alamo Colleges, Texas, U.S.

SENA Centro de Gestión Tecnológica de Servicios, Regional Valle del Cauca, Colombia

Chagra a la Mesa – Conserving Traditional Cuisine Through Local Food Production

The partnership project between Alamo Colleges and SENA Centro de Gestión Tecnológica de Servicios will develop a faculty-led, field-based program with a focus on gastronomy, tourism, and agriculture. The program will create opportunities and incentives for faculty and staff at the partnering institutions to develop, administer, and spearhead new and innovative study abroad programs in Colombia and the U.S. that address challenges related to food insecurity and the loss of healthy local cuisine traditions. Students will participate in classroom lab kitchens to enhance their careers in the hospitality industry and agriculture, while having the opportunity to also participate in a language institute to learn English or Spanish while abroad. 

Northampton Community College, Pennsylvania, U.S.

SENA Centro Textil y de Gestión Industrial, Regional Antioquia, Colombia

SENA Partnership for Study Abroad Capacity Building

Northampton Community College (Northampton), in partnership with SENA Centro Tecnológico de Gestión Industrial, will implement a study abroad course/program focused on environmental sustainability studies and designed to give technical engineering students the skills and perspectives to engage in longer-term study abroad. Northampton technical engineering faculty and staff will also provide their SENA colleagues with technical assistance that builds their study abroad capacity to internationalize their curriculum and create an academic experience that is tailored to SENA programs, while increasing Northampton’s student mobility in the Americas.

Mississippi State University, Mississippi, U.S.

SENA Centro Acuícola y Agroindustrial de Gaira, Regional Magdalena, Colombia

Study Abroad for Spanish Language and Exchange for Precision Agriculture

Through their joint project, Mississippi State University (MSU) and SENA Centro Acuícola y Agroindustrial de Gaira will develop a bilateral exchange to implement MSU’s first faculty-led, credit-bearing study abroad program in Colombia that advances the field of Precision Agriculture comparing the two distinct geographical and agricultural environments of Mississippi soybeans and Magdalena bananas. The program aims to increase students’ comparative knowledge of precision agriculture for decision=making by contrasting each respective region’s crop production techniques, to promote creative thinking and joint research ideas among students and faculty in this field, and to utilize distance technologies to promote language acquisition, appropriate curriculum and to facilitate technology transfer via extension in both countries.

North Carolina State University, North Carolina, U.S.

SENA Centro para la Formación Cafetera, Regional Caldas, Colombia

Training the Next Generation of Coffee Producers & Consumers via Innovation &
Entrepreneurship Consortium Uniting People for Sustainability (CUPS)

The Innovation Fund grant will allow increased bilateral collaboration between North Carolina State University and SENA Centro para la Formación Cafetera, while increasing study abroad in the fields of agriculture, environment, tourism and gastronomy. Through bi-directional training in coffee production, the partnering institutions will bring new technologies for training future coffee farmers to increase their focus of entrepreneurship across different disciplines and businesses across the United States and Latin America & the Caribbean. The program includes a dynamic mobile training laboratory on product development, which will be utilized by students from both institutions to exchange ideas and kick start new product innovations, as well as discuss and learn from key experts in the agri-business sectors.

Santa Fe College, Florida, U.S.

SENA Centro de Comercio y Servicios, Regional Bolívar, Colombia

Information Technology, Cybersecurity, and Entrepreneurship in a Changing World

Santa Fe College will develop a new international collaboration related to information technology education with SENA Centro de Comercio y Servicios and implement a for-credit student exchange program between the two institutions. The international education experience will increase IT students’ awareness of the current commanding role of virtualization technologies in business and education in Colombia and the U.S., as well as increase their entrepreneurial skills through the collaborative development of a working IT server that can help a small business. Students will work in projects with peers and researchers abroad, which will enable them to select appropriate techniques to tackle and solve problems in the discipline of information security management, and to foster the development of intercultural competence within the framework of information technology. 

Tennessee State University, Tennessee, U.S.

SENA Centro Agropecuario de Buga, Regional Valle del Cauca, Colombia

Training of Colombian Students from SENA and US students from Tennessee State University in New Crop Development and Food Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Tennessee State University (TSU) and SENA Centro Agropecuario de Buga will create a cross-institutional exchange and training platform in new food crop development and science that will benefit students and instructors from both institutions and encourage the development of new businesses. The exchange will focus on innovative, hands-on learning activities that will lead the way to the establishment and consolidation of an agriculture-based entrepreneurship program through student and faculty exchange programs and joint project development, including grants, import/export possibilities and new business development. Students will develop technical skills in agronomic production and food processing of specific new corps promoted in Colombia or the U.S. The program will also impart to students an understanding of the value-added agricultural sector of Tennessee and its diverse farmers’ markets for the SENA students and the wide array of tropical crops for the TSU students to inspire new ideas for small business development in both countries.

University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Arkansas, U.S.

SENA Centro de Formación Agroindustrial “La Angostura”, Regional Huila, Colombia

Developing the Next Generation of Aquaculture Leaders: Strengthening Workforce Readiness in a

Global Economy for Aquaculture Students in Arkansas, USA, and Huila, Colombia

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, in partnership with SENA Centro de Formación Agroindustrial “La Angostura”, will pilot its first faculty-led, bi-directional, program in the field of aquaculture and in a South American country that will emphasize an exchange experience with a commercial partner as a key training institution. Through the Innovation Fund grant, the partnering institutions will conduct dynamic experiential and cross-cultural learning experiences for students grounded in the science of aquaculture and value-added fish product development. Students will use applied research in fish disease diagnosis and food safety to promote greater fish product diversification in the Americas, while the institutions foster viable public and private partnerships in aquaculture and fisheries sectors through emerging partnerships that will be facilitated through the project.

University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island, U.S.

SENA Centro Nacional Colombo Alemán, Barranquilla, Colombia

Sustainable Prostheses – An All Inclusive Approach to Designing in the Americas

The University of Rhode Island and SENA Centro Nacional Colombo Alemán in Colombia are partnering to create a new model that will engage their engineering faculty and students to collaborate in the creation of sustainable prostheses. Through this program, groups from both institutions will create affordable prototypes to address the enormous need for low-cost, light-weight prostheses in Colombia and the U.S. Students will work in cross-cultural teams and develop prototypes using each institution’s expertise. Teams will then present their design ideas to a jury of faculty from both institutions, company representatives, and other stakeholders. 

SENA Centro de Electricidad y Automatización Industrial, Cali Colombia

North Carolina State University, North Carolina, U.S.

Drone-building to Teach Technology and Entrepreneurship – North Carolina Drone Training Program

Through the partnership between SENA Centro de Electricidad y Automatización Industrial (SENA CEAI) and North Carolina State University (NCSU), the project will transfer concepts in hardware and software technologies related to product prototyping to six students and two teachers from SENA CEAI through an immersion Drone Program. SENA CEAI plans to host NCSU members in a one-week exchange in the CEAI training center in Cali used to train the SENA academic community about Drone building, flying and repairing. Through NCSU’s Global Training Initiative office and Community State College and Drone Camp, both parties have designed a 200-hour course called the Drone Training Program. This program will be duplicated nationally in the following years in SENA training centers including Drones Race events and talks about drone building, flying and repairing, and drone applications in different work sectors and entrepreneurial possibilities in Colombian cities.



The 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund is the dynamic public-private sector collaboration between the U.S. Department of State, Partners of the Americas, and NAFSA: Association of International Educators, corporations, foundations, U.S. Embassies, and universities.

Since its inception in January 2014, a total of 99 Innovation Fund grants have been awarded to teams of 207 higher education institutions from 20 countries in the Western Hemisphere region. Innovation Fund partnerships between universities in the United States and higher education institutions in the Western Hemisphere are increasing more student exchange opportunities and strengthening regional education cooperation throughout the Americas.

Learn more: www.100kStrongAmericas.org

Follow the Innovation Fund on Twitter and Facebook via #100KStrongAmericas.

The mission of Partners of the Americas is to connect people and organizations across borders to serve and to change lives through lasting partnerships. These partnerships create opportunity, foster understanding, and solve real-life problems. Inspired by President Kennedy and founded in 1964, under the Alliance for Progress, Partners is a non-profit, non-partisan organization with international offices in Washington, DC. Learn more at www.partners.net or via Twitter @partnersamerica.

With 10,000 members worldwide, NAFSA: Association of International Educators is the largest non-profit professional association dedicated to international education program and policy. Learn more at www.nafsa.org and www.connectingourworld.org or via Twitter @NAFSA and @ConnectOurWorld.


Press Contact:

Taylor Nelson  |  tnelson@partners.net  |  (202) 637-6206

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