Engineering Leadership Development Faculty and Students Return to Benin
by Mike Erdman, Walter L Robb Director of Engineering Leadership Development
Dr. Brice Sinsin, Rector of the University of Abomey Calavi (UAC), traveled half-way across the globe to visit Penn State in the summer of 2013 and Penn State returned the favor over Thanksgiving break later that year. Penn State has been collaborating with UAC, in Cotonou, Benin, on the development of mechanized processes for agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa. These efforts include improving the processing of the highly nutritious indigenous fruit, baobab, as well as developing methods to extract a butter substitute from another local crop, pentadesma.
Mike Erdman, Walter L. Robb Director of Engineering Leadership Development at Penn State, visited Benin in January 2013 with students Erick Froede and Alyssa Joslin, and invited Dr. Sinsin to visit Penn State to further discuss opportunities for research and development. While here, Dr. Sinsin met with President Rodney Erickson, Vice Provost for Global Programs, Michael Adewumi, College of Engineering Associate Dean Renata Engel, and many others. Erdman returned to Benin in November with a team of 5 students – Kelly Mulcahey, Chris Hersh, Anthony Aliberti, Emma Hocker, and Manan Gill – where they delivered a new baobab processing machine for use in a cooperative farm in the north of Benin. While there, Dr. Sinsin invited them to provide a seminar to students and faculty on leadership and to tour various parts of the University and sights in southern Benin, including the Ouidah slave route and Python Temple.
For more information about Penn State’s ongoing work to develop an efficient baobab machine, read the Fall 2012 issue of Engineering Penn State.