WB 2015 – MSU Ecological Engineering in the Tropics

Costa Rica – MSU / UCR – December 26, 2015 – January 9, 2016

Jan. 3 – Lauren


Sunday, January 3, 2016

Deviating slightly from our original plans, we decided to visit the beach on January 3 in addition to our other activities. We departed Palo Verde National Park in Guanacaste around 7:30am to accommodate our additional stop. We selected Playa Jacó, the closest beach to San Jose, Costa Rica as it was a travel day back to our first hotel, Hotel La Rosa, in Alajuela, an area just outside of San Jose.

Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 8.09.16 AM.png

CAPTION: Playa Jacó is one of the most popular beaches in Costa Rica as it is the closest to San Jose, a city that contains most of the country’s population.

We spent about two hours at the beach souvenir shopping and trying our hands at surfing in the Gulf of Nicoya (“Jacó Beach,” n.d.). Before we knew it, it was time again to load the bus and depart for Alajuela. Arriving just before sunset, we traveled to the University of Costa Rica for our originally scheduled visit. Prior to a bus ride tour, university faculty gave a presentation on sustainable methods the university is employing and encouraging in urban areas. Topics discussed included rain gardens, rooftop gardens, and rainwater harvesting.

Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 8.15.16 AM.png

CAPTION: The UCR campus tour provided a visual aspect to many sustainability concepts we have been studying.

Rooftop gardens or “green roofs,” were perhaps the most intriguing idea to our group made up of multiple disciplines. Employed primarily to combat the heat island effect, where traditionally dark colored roofs make energy costs skyrocket, gardens of a diverse variety of plants are planted on rooftops. Other benefits include improving building aesthetics, waste diversion, improved storm water management, and efficient energy use, to name a few (“Green Roof Benefits,” n.d.). This concept is similar to white roofs, which also decrease energy costs but through light reflection (“White Roof Project,” n.d.).


CAPTION: The benefits of green roofs are numerous, but one major positive effect is the visual appeal.

Overall, we learned that the UCR campus is home to around 38,000 students. Twenty-five percent of students drive and, just as at MSU, parking space is a constant battle. After our tour we stopped for dinner at a popular chicken restaurant, Rosti Pollos.


CAPTION: There are several chicken-centered restaurants in Costa Rica as chicken is a staple protein in the culture. Rosti Pollos is a well-known incarnation of one of these restaurants.

Pre-Departure Information

Today, we will tour the Universidad de Costa Rica or the University of Costa Rica. After we explore the campus, we will have time for project work in the afternoon. To learn more about the university, see below!

History of the Universidad de Costa Rica

The Universidad de Costa Rica was established in 1940. Its first year, the university enrolled around 700 students. The first university in Costa Rica was the Universidad de Santo Tomás, which was established by the government in the mid-1800s. It was shut down in 1888 by a progressive government looking to reform the educational system, though a few departments, such as pharmacy and law kept operating. The remaining offices were incorporated into the Universidad de Costa Rica at last in 1940. Today, UCR has three main focus areas, “Humanities (arts and sciences), colleges or vocational schools and School of Higher Studies,” (“Historia”).

The University of Costa Rica also has many signs and symbols that they cherish. Most important to the identity of the university is the shield, as it reflects the high ideals within the institution (“Simbolos”). Along with laurels and a sunflower, the shield says, “Lucem Aspicio,” which means, “search for light.” UCR also has a flag which was created as a combination of the two Costa Rican flags of the time, one blue, one white.


Green Roof Benefits – GRHC WEBSITE. (n.d.). Retrieved January 5, 2016, from http://www.greenroofs.org/index.php/about/greenroofbenefits

Jaco Beach (Costa Rica): Address, Tickets & Tours, Attraction Reviews – TripAdvisor. (n.d.). Retrieved January 5, 2016, from http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g309271-d309613-Reviews-Jaco_Beach-Jaco_Province_of_Puntarenas.htmlv

Historia y símbolos universitarios. (n.d.). Retrieved December 27, 2015, from http://www.ucr.ac.cr/acerca-u/historia-simbolos.html

Símbolos universitarios. (n.d.). Retrieved December 27, 2015, from http://www.ucr.ac.cr/acerca-u/historia-simbolos/simbolos.html

White Roof Project. (n.d.). Retrieved January 5, 2016, from http://www.whiteroofproject.org/faq

UCR images  retrieved from http://www.dentaldepartures.com/curridabat-dentists/

Green roof picture retrieved from http://egardens.blogspot.com/2009/03/green-roofs-more.html





4 thoughts on “Jan. 3 – Lauren

  1. How many students are at UCR? How does it differ from MSU from an urban planning perspective?


  2. Does Costa Rica fund UCR? Do most of the students pay for their education themselves? Curious also what the admissions process is for UCR. Some kind of entrance exam?


  3. How does the interactions between the campus and the community similar or different to MSU? Possibly the policies, the social impact, or the ecological interactions?


  4. There are roughly 38,000 students enrolled at UCR, Dr. Reinhold! From an urban planning perspective, they face many of the same issues MSU currently grapples with. As mentioned above, parking is an issue at UCR as well, but only 25 percent of students drive to class, which differs from MSU.

    grfoodie2: The application process for UCR is quite similar to college admissions in the US. Applicants must take a test similar to that of the ACT or SAT. However, the test plays a role in determining the students’ major and the amount of financial aid they receive. UCR specifically is very selective, with an acceptance rate of 25%. The money saved from disestablishing the army in 1940 goes to education, making education in Costa Rica heavily subsidized.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s