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Urban & Regional Studies

International Internship Program

Urban & Regional Studies offers an international internship in Ecuador. UWGB has signed an agreement with the city of Tena as to allow faculty and students to contribute to Tena's planning efforts. The city of Tena and the surrounding cantons are experiencing rapid expansion of population due to increased economic development in the Amazon region of Ecuador. Any growth, especially rapid, brings a number of challenges for local and regional planning officials and policymakers, such as infrastructures, governmental services, employment opportunities, environmental degradation, and housing.

The inaugural research in the Summer of 2011 program dealing with urban visioning and housing concerns was used as part of the Comprehensive Plan for the City, approved by the city council last year. Due to this success, the program was enthusiastically invited to continue the contributions and therefore returned in the Summer of 2012 to provide input in the transportation element of the Comprehensive Plan by devising design guidelines for street networks.

Dr. Marcelo Cruz and Dr. Adam Parrillo lead this program and recruited a diverse set of urban researchers from Green Bay, Milwaukee, and abroad. The team consisted of:

  • Kelly Mech (UWGB graduate student in the ES&P program)
  • Stephanie Hummel (UWGB and URS alumnus)
  • Shane Marquardt (UWGB undergrad student in Geospatial Intelligence)
  • Matt Leser (UWM undergrad in Urban Studies)
  • Anthony Stein (UWM undergrad in Urban Studies)
  • Thomas Reinwald Sorensen (student in Geospatial Techniques in Copenhagen, Denmark)

Following a month long itinerary and methodology organized by Dr. Cruz and Dr. Parrillo in conjunction with the planning technical team in Tena, the students undertook daily and systematic field observations, met routinely with the Tena technical team to share ideas, and simultaneously worked on writing the final report to be delivered to the City following the in-country research.

Living in close quarters for a month with individuals you just met can be stressful, and this team performed superbly. In fact, this team became fast colleagues who could share ideas and challenge each other while also being friends when it was time to find some respite from the long work days. The students delivered an exceptional and appreciated product to the city of Tena and even made friendships that should stand the test of time.

Continuing Opportunities

This program continues each summer in July and provides opportunities for students to hone technical and writing skills, interact with professionals in the field while doing real and meaningful work, and finally puts students outside of their comfort zone where they must understand and learn about themselves. Dr. Cruz says he grows from each experience and learns something from each and every participant. He is constantly looking for strong recruits for this continuing program.