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Instituto Tecnológico de Puebla: Meet the Rector

Puebla Mexico

Located in Puebla, Mexico, is the Instituto Tecnológico de Puebla.

To learn more about the Instituto Tecnológico de Puebla and what it offers international students, we spoke to its rector, Dr. Fernando Chapa Lara. 

Can you tell us about your career and how you became the Dean of Instituto Tecnológico de Puebla?

I was born in the city of Matamoros, Tamaulipas in 1951. I went to college in the city of Saltillo Coahuila, at the Instituto Tecnológico of Saltillo to study Chemical Engineering.

I worked for 3 years in the private sector and then started lecturing in the Instituto Tecnológico de Matamoros Tamaulipas and briefly after as Coordinator in the Chemistry department.

In 1986 I was asked by the General Director of the Nacional Instituto in México to oversee the homologation of personnel, professors, and staff in the Instituto Politécnico Nacional.

After that I was designated as Administrative Subdirector of the General Direction of all the Institutos Tecnológicos. I have spent almost my whole life in education, with brief periods of industry work. I was Director of Security in the metro collective public transport.

I also worked in the Mexican Postal Service as Director of Administration and in the National Institute of Education for Adults. After that I went back to General Direction and I was sent to open a new Instituto Tecnológico in Milpa Alta in Mexico City. I was the Dean at that institute for seven years, and then I was sent to the Instituto Tecnológico de Puebla, also as a Dean on November 26th, 2015 where I’ve been for almost 5 years.

Tell us a little about Instituto Tecnológico de Puebla

IT Puebla opened in 1972, we have spent 48 years dedicated to educating young engineers to strengthen the industry in our region. We currently have 8,305 students enrolled in undergraduate studies across eight undergraduate majors, two master's degrees and we are about to inaugurate our first doctorate program.

Why are international students important at your Institution?

We want to promote multiculturalism, interculturality, internationalization and international mobility at IT Puebla.

We seek to foster relationships with different organizations and universities around the world to provide our students and teachers with the opportunity to study abroad and learn from the best global practices.

We are very interested in opening our doors to receive students and professors from other countries. We look forward to having foreign students learn about Mexico’s enormous and beautiful culture, its gastronomy, its historical places, while at the same time learning in a theoretical-practical environment. We have exchanges with Germany, France and Colombia. Unfortunately, we don’t have a partner university in the UK, but we would love to have one.

How is the university known to attract international students and collaborate with universities in other countries?

We have a department that works to maintain that contact. We have accomplished collaboration with universities in other countries with the help of international organizations.

For example, we have been working with the German Academic Exchange Service for 27 years, that has offered a great opportunity for our students to collaborate with over 20 different German Universities.

We are also part of the platform of Alliance of the Pacific which allows us to collaborate with universities in Colombia, Peru and Chile. Another way IT Puebla attracts international students is through collaboration agreements between IT Puebla and other universities which facilitates internationalization between universities.

Does the university have a strategy to attract more universities?

We were going to implement a project this year, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to reschedule. There will be many opportunities in 2021 for us to increase the number of foreign students at our university.

How has the pandemic affected the university and how have you adapted to this new reality?

At the beginning of March, following the first deaths from the pandemic in Mexico, I had an emergency meeting with the entire governing body and decided that on March 18 we would close all facilities and move education and administrative services completely online. We’ve been in total contact with students and professors since then.

We’ve also been able to carry out campus repairs that couldn’t be done with 8,300 students on campus. Chief staff are on guard every day and our professors finished the school year online. We closely monitor the health and wellbeing of our students who were studying abroad and the foreign students who were with us.

We are very pleased to say that all students have returned home safely and will finish their semester virtually. We plan to start teaching face-to-face classes again on August 24th. Starting on July 6th we will offer a six-week summer course virtually for all interested students to catch up on the subjects they couldn’t continue with, due to an inability to keep in touch with their professors virtually. We have kept the institution in isolation and are only doing face-to-face office work when necessary.

How do you want the university to be known by students and academics from other countries?

We have two majors that are pillars here: Industrial Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. We also have a degree in Electrical and one in Electronics. Our Master in Electronics is within the register of the National Quality Postgraduate Program (PNPC) in Mexico.

We have competitive laboratories, facilities and academic bodies in the industry. We are interested in foreign students coming to learn from us and vice versa. Internationalization is very useful in universities and for young students, because it helps them mature more quickly and they get to see other perspectives of what's happening in the world.

What would you like to say to international students? How can they get in contact with you?

We have a department of International Affairs where students can contact the Coordinator at the email: [email protected]. I would like to tell students that the Tecnológico de Puebla is ready to welcome them with open arms and show them what Puebla and Mexico.

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Written by Niamh Ollerton
Niamh is Deputy Head of Content at QS (TopMBA.com; topuniversities.com), creating and editing content for an international student audience. Having gained her journalism qualification at the Press Association, London and since written for different international publications, she's now enjoying telling the stories of students, alumni, faculty, entrepreneurs and organizations from across the globe.  

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