The Republic of Panama forms a link between Central and South America, constituting an isthmus 60 miles wide at its narrowest point. The country has over three million residents, with one-third living in the capital, Panama City.
World-famous for the engineering marvel of the Panama Canal, Panama City is the most cosmopolitan capital in Central America. It has seen significant growth and is known for international shipping and banking, transportation, insurance, warehousing, and sales. The combination of colonial ruins, modern high-rise office buildings, luxury homes, and squatters’ slums reflects the blend of cultures, eras, and economic levels that are found in the city.
Panama City has numerous tourist attractions, including Panamá la Vieja (the ruins of the original city), Casco Viejo (the Old Quarter), museums, and national parks. The country has a tropical maritime climate, with an average daily high temperature of 87°F.
Students will be staying in suite-style dorms at the Ciudad Del Saber, about 20 minutes outside of downtown Panama City and directly across from the Miraflores locks. Living rooms and kitchenettes are shared, and all basic amenities (24-hour security, laundry facilities, internet connections, etc.) are provided. Each room has a balcony overlooking the Canal.
IQP Projects at the Panama Project Center, which were first offered in 2015, involve a variety of governmental and non-governmental partners.
Cuidad del Saber: In 1999 the Panamanian government rehabilitated the physical infrastructure of Fort Clayton to create the Cuidad del Saber (City of Knowledge), a university-style campus that supports education, research, and innovation. Cuidad del Saber supports its own research activities on promoting the integration of academia and business within the unique Panamanian social context.
SENACYT: Roughly equivalent to the National Science Foundation in the U.S., the Secretaría Nacional de Ciencia, Tecnología, e Innovación aims to develop science and technology in service to the sustainable development of, and reduction of inequality in, Panama. As a government organization, SENACYT supports a wide variety of both research projects and professional development programs for Panamanian students and professionals. Particular attention is paid to members of indigenous tribes.
Fundación Grupo Corcione: Grupo Corcione, one of the largest engineering and construction companies in Panama, administers the FGC, a nonprofit organization that aims to provide support to socially vulnerable youths through four main objectives: Education, sports, environmental stewardship, and service learning. The group undertakes a variety of projects, including the construction of schools and sports fields, providing scholarships, organizing soccer leagues, planting trees, and hosting community cleanup days.
The Innovation Office: The Autoridad Nacional para la Innovación Gubernamental (AIG) is the government office that is responsible for the modernization of Panama’s telecommunications networks. Much of the research performed by AIG is focused on the societal effects of technological change, particularly the effects of information accessibility on reducing inequality in Panama.
Copa Airlines: The Compañía Panameña de Aviación is the national air carrier of the Republic of Panama, and carries out research directly related to the environmental, social, and safety aspects of aviation in Panama. In particular, Copa has expressed an interest in working with WPI students to identify different measures that can be taken to reduce bird strikes on aircraft, a safety issue of significant concern.