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MIT to celebrate partnership south of the border

MIT-Mexico, an internship and exchange program launched in spring 2004 by the MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI), will celebrate its first anniversary on July 19 with a gala in Mexico City, hosted by Banamex, one of Mexico's largest banks.

"The event is an intent to thank all of the people that made the MIT-Mexico Program possible, and we hope that it will get new companies and individuals interested in participating in MIT-Mexico," said program coordinator Amy Kirkcaldy.

The gala will be held at a historic palace, with organizers expecting about 120 people. "The MIT clubs of Monterrey and Mexico City, as well as Mexican industry, government and universities, will be well represented at the event," Kirkcaldy said.

Unique among MISTI's numerous internship programs--MISTI has offices in China, France, Germany, India, Italy and Japan, as well as a Singapore forum--MIT-Mexico arose from an initiative by Mexican undergraduates at MIT and has received significant financial support from the MIT alumni organization in Mexico. Moreover, MIT-Mexico offers internships for MIT students in Mexico and encourages Mexican nationals to participate in joint research programs as visiting scholars at MIT.

Already, these elements have created a winning formula: last year, one MIT student went to Mexico, but this year, the program has nine students interning there.

"MIT-Mexico reflects the increasing cooperation and interaction among the North American partners produced by NAFTA, but it is also a response to the growing importance of Mexican-Americans in political, cultural and economic life in the United States. It is thus a true reflection of MIT's dual role as an international institution and national resource in an increasingly global economy," said Michael J. Piore, director of the MIT-Mexico Program and the David W. Skinner Professor of Political Economy at MIT.

According to Piore, the year-old program provided opportunities for innovative community-building, creating a team that "spans the cultural divide not only between Mexico and the United States, but also between students and faculty."

The visiting research component of MIT-Mexico is supported by the Mexican government through Mexico's Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia (CONACYT), which is similar to the U.S. National Science Foundation. This year the MIT-Mexico Program awarded grants to support five different research projects, ranging from biology and biological engineering to civil engineering, computer science and physics.

Established in 1994, MISTI has placed more than 1,500 MIT students as interns in labs and offices from Beijing to Berlin. Before their departure, interns are trained in the language and culture of the host country.

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