The Office of International Affairs informs the community of policy changes that affect international research at Stanford. When federal regulations relaxed restrictions on U.S. citizens travel to Cuba in Jan. 2015, OIA established a response and initiated new procedures so that undergraduates could travel to Cuba.
Marilyn Harris '16, and a group of five other Stanford undergraduate students that formed the Interdisciplinary Exchange of the Americas (IdEA) wanted to explore technology penetration in Cuba and organize a hackathon on the island with Cuban entrepreneurs. They worked with multiple offices on campus to turn their ideas into reality; the Haas Center for Public Service provided a letter of support, the Office of Risk Management assessed the proposal and travel plans to ensure that the students complied with university policies and the Director of Export Control approved the trip.
The students spent a week in Havana, Cuba during spring break 2015 assessing opportunities to collaborate with Cuban students. They performed needs validation assessment of the types of social and infrastructural problems that could be topics for future collaborative projects between students of both countries. They interviewed students from different medical and engineering schools in La Havana and spent time to better understand the types of challenges they might face in approaching engineering problems in the local context.
The trip to Cuba resulted in a student-initiated course for Spring 2015 entitled, "Understanding Cuba: Social, Economic, and Technological Landscape" to help generate interest in technology and Cuba.
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