Page manager Published: Thu 10 Nov 2016.

Gabriela Rodríguez: from Puerto Rico to Chalmers

The sun is shining, exam week is over. There wouldn't be a better occasion for a hang out in the sun and spending the day outside in Göteborg! And why not get to know how it has been going for my friend Gabriela who has moved from Puerto Rico to Göteborg for her Master's last autumn?

​​Gabriela M. Rodríguez has a Bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez Campus and has started the Master's programme in Innovative and Sustainable Chemical Engineering last autumn. As many of us, students, she wasn't sure which step to take next after the Bachelor's: industry or pursuing a Master's degree. She wanted to deepen her knowledge in Chemical Engineering but not in the 'conventional way', having the major focus on theory. An university with strong relation with industry was what she was looking for, a place where projects would reflect 'real life' challenges faced in the chemical industry. With the help of searching engines, she got Chalmers as a possible match to her interests. When she started to take a deeper look into the University and the programmes it had to offer, it felt that it was exactly what she was looking for!

During one of her summer jobs, Gabriela worked with specialty chemicals and got into close contact with the drawbacks associated to chemicals production from oil refineries. At that time she thought that she wanted indeed to be a chemical engineering, but that a more sustainable approach was a must in the field. Biorefinery processes became then one of her major interests and last period she took the Biorefinery course. She was really impressed! The course broadened her view, she had never imagined that pulp and paper companies were also moving towards that path and the opportunities that existed in the area. During that course there was a study visit to Borregaard, a biorefinery in Norway. She felt like a child going to Disneyland: 1) she had never been to a study trip, 2) it was  a biorefinery company, 3) visiting Norway for free!

Another thing that impressed Gabriela at Chalmers in general, was the amount of team work that it is required in the courses. During her previous studies she was used to carry mostly individual assignments and all of the courses she has taken so far here at Chalmers had at least one sort of group work. She thinks this approach is very positive, since collaborating with other students and dealing with different points of view is a great way to learn. Also, the groups tend to be mixed, so that a multicultural environment is created and the discussions become more productive. 

The wish to study at Chalmers came as a surprise to her relatives and friends; it is not common for a Puerto Rican to move further away than to the U.S. ​Now her friends and family are used to it, just a bit worried about the lack of sun and the life without Puerto Rican food, but well, about the food, Gabriela says she has been eating Puerto Rican food for 24 years, she can get through with some new one, especially if it is köttbullar!

​Text: Carolina Braga
Image: Private

Page manager Published: Thu 10 Nov 2016.