First overview of the Finnish plans

Aalto LAB Mexico (ALM) is an interdisciplinary and intercultural project that results from the collaboration between Aalto University, Tecnológico de Monterrey’s ‘the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education’ (Tec) campus of Mexico City, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México ‘the National Autonomous University of Mexico’ (UNAM) and Centro de Diseño de Monterrey (CEDIM). Since 2012 ALM has been working with the community called “El 20 de Noviembre” (El 20, located in the Mexican municipality of Calakmul, in the state of Campeche). This community and its members form the main group of beneficiaries for this project. Since 2014, ALM is part of the Sustainable Global Technologies module of the School of Engineering in Aalto University. Every year, the project starts in January with more than a month of intense research into the project in order to prepare the teams for the field research. In 2016, this latter stage is planned for two weeks in March, when the team will travel to Mexico City and Calakmul. After this field trip, the evaluation stage begins, lasting several months, during which the data and other obtained information are analyzed and synthesized into a report. From this, conclusions for the future of Aalto LAB Mexico are drawn and recommendations are made.
The main goal of ALM is to improve the quality of life in El 20 and make it a better place. More specifically, ALM aims to fight the large social injustice that exists in that area of high marginalization and to raise awareness about the cultural values of this Mayan community without risking the subsistence of their megadiverse natural environment.
This year’s team from Aalto University consists of six students from various countries and academic backgrounds. An introduction to these ‘labbers’ can be found here. This group of motivated individuals will be working together with labbers from previous years, teachers, facilitators and other experts in order to reach our project purposes. These purposes consist of two parts; contribution to the understanding and improvement of long term water collection and purification planning, and to stimulate a more empowered community. The latter is mostly facilitated through co-design methods. It is expected that through a long term collaboration, co-design and ownership, the inhabitants of El 20 will be able to tackle future problems in an autonomous and independent manner, rather than expecting help from a paternalistic state.
In order to reach these purposes, two main results have been created as a target for this year’s project. The first results this project is supposed to achieve, is a report of comprehensive and reliable results on the water quality and usage in El 20. Activities linked to this result include water sampling and analysis, and interviews with villagers. Secondly, the school children should have gained more knowledge about the use and potential problems of water sources. In order to advance this second result, the two activities of education (e.g. workshops and lectures) and testing the impact will be carried out.
In this project, participants learn from each other as well as the community, and the community learns from the participants. These lessons are generally about development, sustainability, and cultural values and they are shared through electronic means, cultural events (e.g. Aalto Festival), social interactions, academic articles, conferences, and through media.

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