To explore research on renewable energy (RE), a faculty member from the Nueva Ecija University of Science and Technology (NEUST) attended a one-month faculty attachment at the Institut Pertanian Bogor (IPB) University in Indonesia.
Engineer Melissa Medina, an instructor at NEUST College of Agriculture and who has undergone the attachment from May 1 to 30, 2023, was hosted by the Department of Mechanical and Biosystem Engineering at IPB, with Dr. Edy Hartulistiyoso, head of the department, as her mentor.
Dr. Glenn Gregorio, Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) director, said the center has facilitated Medina's attachment at IPB University through the Southeast Asian University Consortium for Graduate Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC).
SEARCA serves as the secretariat for UC, which counts IPB among its founding members.
The funding for Medina's attachment was provided by Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) under its International Continuing Professional Education (ICPE) grant awarded for the Leveling-Up Philippine Higher Education Institutions in Agriculture, Fisheries, and Natural Resources (LevelUPHEI AFAR) project by SEARCA.
Gregorio said Medina had the opportunity to observe various facilities and laboratories at IPB which include the Agribusiness and Technology Park, Surfactant and Bioenergy Research Center, Biogas Integrated Farming-PT. Swen Transfer Innovations, and the Agricultural Instrument Standardization Agency.
He added that Medina's visit to these facilities gave her valuable insights into the best practices employed by IPB University, which she intends to apply in NEUST's Controlled Environment Agriculture, moringa processing, and primary coffee processing.
In her observations, Medina focused on technologies related to food processing, carbonization and briquetting, biodiesel production, miniplant factories and precision indoor farming, agricultural machinery and infrastructure testing.
Also during her attachment, she attended graduate courses offered by the Department of Mechanical and Biosystem Engineering program wherein she presented the agricultural status and mechanization development in the Philippines.
She likewise participated in a webinar by Dr. Keishiro Hara on complexity and sustainability science organized by the 93rd ICO (International Collaboration Office)-IPB through e-IPB Talk.
Medina submitted an initial research proposal on renewable energy to IPB University for review as well. Her study focuses on harnessing widely known renewable resources, such as solar radiation and biomass, to develop dryers for coffee which is a priority commodity at NEUST.
Her proposed project aims to create a sustainable drying technology out of locally available materials and includes the development of a modified greenhouse rack-type mixed-mode coffee dryer and the evaluation of its performance in terms of drying capacity, efficiency, moisture reduction per hour, and power consumption.
She said she envisions to create a prototype multi-layered mixed-mode coffee dryer that maintains coffee quality, reduces contamination, and minimizes drying costs.
According to Gregorio, Medina has successfully secured the SEARCA LevelUPHEI AFAR grant to support her research and teaching capacity at her home institution.
He said this grant aligns with her responsibilities as chair of the Agricultural Innovation Research and Related Project at NEUST.
Meanwhile, UC member universities and SEARCA have planned this year various activities which include training sessions on cage-free innovation and welfare hubs; bioinformatics skills for plant and animal whole genome sequencing data; aquatic animal nutrition and feed manufacturing; and Halal.
Gregorio said the member universities also plan to conduct courses on ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction, and climate change adaptation; tropical agricultural environment toward regional sustainability; and the UC Summer School on the sustainability of agricultural systems in difficult environments.
All these activities are part of the LevelUPHEI AFAR project, which aims to upgrade the institutional capacities of Philippine HEIs toward enhanced relevance and competitiveness in the 21st century, he added.