Tecnológico de MonterreyInterdisciplinary collaboration makes a difference in science

Interdisciplinary collaboration makes a difference in science

Interdisciplinary collaboration makes a difference in science

Interdisciplinary research is the key to success. The Binational Laboratory is an example of the fact that synergy among scientific disciplines has shown good results.

By Michael Ramírez
The concept of interdisciplinary research has permeated universities more and more. It refers to the “cross” of various disciplines which are apparently different and removed from each other, in an effort to jointly develop research projects which go beyond a specialized field, making strides toward the integration of knowledge.

Interdisciplinarity does not attempt to eliminate the specificities of various scientific areas, but rather to integrate them, to discover new knowledge and promote cooperation among different scientific actors.

The National Academy of Sciences (2005) in the United States defines interdisciplinary research as:

“Interdisciplinary research is a type of research carried out by teams or individuals to integrate information, data, techniques, tools, perspectives, concepts or theories of two or more disciplines or specialized bodies of knowledge aimed at advancing a basic understanding or solving problems whose solutions go beyond the scope of just one discipline or area of investigation”.

Researchers Alberto Mendoza, Paty Aldape, Marisol Ramírez, Silvia Farías, and Sara González are part of a recognized interdisciplinary project, the Binational Laboratory

Energy + education:
Joint research

The Binational Laboratory on Intelligent Sustainable Energy and Training Technology is a platform launched in 2016 and established by the Department of Energy, the National Council of Science and Technology, and Tecnológico de Monterrey to generate technology and knowledge for the energy sector through training, research, and infrastructure.

This project is a sample of interdisciplinary collaboration since it brings together knowledge from two very specific disciplines: educational innovation and energy.

“With this project separate disciplinary worlds are a thing of the past”, according to Marisol Ramírez, a researcher from Educational Innovation, a keystone of this project.

“This project means a transformation for us.  We no longer conceive uni-disciplinary research, but instead multi-disciplinary approaches”, she added as a member of the National System of Researchers.

Marisol mentioned that this project has allowed her to work for the first time with researchers who come from disciplines apparently removed from her field of knowledge. Contributions from the area of educational innovation were the design and implementation of the Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC), which are taught over technological platforms and facilitate the process of massive teaching-learning.

Alberto Mendoza, director of the Center for Water Resources and leader of the Group of Research on Energy and Climate Change, mentions that collaboration among various scientific disciplines is a practice that should be extended to other fields.

“I believe that collaboration is something that has to take place frequently.  Even within the same schools, there should be more collaboration to achieve a greater impact, which is the present trend.  Moreover, we should document the whole process and the social impact of these projects”, he said.

A Success Story

Recently the Binational Laboratory in Intelligent Sustainable Energy and Training Technology was recognized by the Open Education Consortium with two international awards: the Open Innovation Award and the Open Research Award.

“It is very important to us to receive this recognition because it is a highly competitive award.  The judges are scientists, world academicians, and it is a true honor that they have recognized us with this award”, comments Dr. Marisol Ramírez.

She said that professors, researchers, post-graduate students in education and collaborators in the field of innovation at Tec de Monterrey participated in this project by offering new ideas and solutions for open innovation.

The Open Innovation award is granted for the design, resources, and innovative strategies that were part of the 12 massive open courses offered and taken so far by more than 200 thousand participants from over 50 countries.  These achievements are outstanding contributions to the creation of new opportunities for the challenges that education and energy sustainability face.

On the other hand, the Open Research award was granted to a study carried out by MOOCs and repository systems.  This piece of research contributed to open education by analyzing the effectiveness of strategies, resources and the learning environment, as well as the challenges faced by technological systems where technology has not yet reached its potential for accessibility, usability, and availability of open resources.

Links of interest

Open Innovation: Energy Sustainability through MOOCs in the Latin American context

Open Research: Open Research: Studies of educational innovation in the open movement

The awards granted can be found at: 2019 OE Awards winners: Resources, Tools & Practices.

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