Applying analytical experience to environmental studies
In her final year studying mechanical engineering at MIT, Emma Castaños decided to apply her analytical experience to environmental studies in the public sector. “All of my previous work experiences were in the private sector,” she shares, “and I felt that participating in MISTI was an ideal way to explore government work.” Emma travelled to Bariloche in the Río Negro province of Argentina to intern with the city government. Her primary work was for the Estación de Monitoreo Continuo de Calidad de Aire (Continuous Air Quality Monitoring Station) which collects air quality data every 15 minutes on ambient meteorological conditions and contaminants. “I wrote a program to automate the cleaning, analysis and visualization of this data for the city,” Emma says. Her efforts are part of a larger, national project to analyze air, water and soil data to educate the public and influence public policy.
MISTI brought me to a place I didn’t know, and it became a home. I’m thankful for the warm welcome, the friends I’ve made and the opportunity to experience this gregarious culture.
Discovering the culture of Argentina
“I chose to go to Bariloche where I would be the only MIT student so that I would be forced to push myself to meet local people,” Emma explains. “This is what I believe is incredible about the MISTI experience – students are given the liberty to fully immerse themselves in a new context and community.” Emma soon found that mate, the traditional South American caffeine-rich drink, and its importance to Argentine culture allowed her to meet new people and develop continuing friendships. “As a dedicated coffee drinker, I will admit that the first time I tried mate I didn’t like it,” she says. “However, after a couple weeks, I found that the ritual of pouring, drinking and passing mate is demonstrative of the warm and gregarious culture in Argentina.”