By Pete Mittelholzer, MBA ’10
This summer 16 Eller MBAs and four Arizona PhDs are participating in the Advanced Technology Transfer Project (ATTP) at research institutes throughout Mexico. Our job is to conduct commercial feasibility studies of technologies created at institutions in Ensenada, Guanajuato, León, Puebla, and Mérida. My three teammates and I work at a research institute called CICESE (pronounced “see-say-say”) in Ensenada, which is located 90 beautiful, winding, coastal cliff-hugging miles south of San Diego in the State of Baja California.
I first heard about the annual Mexico internship last August from ATTP alums in their second year at Eller. While interested in the opportunity to work abroad on a consultancy project I was unsure whether my lack of a technical background would preclude my candidacy for a job that would have me analyze technologies alongside scientists. But here I am six weeks into the 10 week internship writing about what types of algae and sea monkeys are ideal to feed halibut larvae in a fish hatchery.
My teammates (Niru Baddam, Gaurav Sharma, and Alina Garcia Montijo) and I begin a typical day at CICESE with breakfast enjoying an invigorating view of the Pacific. The staff here has made our stay extremely comfortable and I am continuously impressed by the good cheer and hospitality of the Mexican people in general. Some of the local highlights in Ensenada both involve libations: Hussong’s (the oldest cantina in the Californias which is packed with locals, live music, and tourists on weekends), and the Riviera del Pacifico (a beautiful old casino that is the alleged birthplace of the margarita in 1948). The fish and shrimp tacos never seem to get old either.
While this experience will never make me an expert in fish hatcheries, groundwater exploration, fiber optic sensors, or any of the other technologies that are being developed at CICESE, it is teaching me how to manage a consultancy project and work with a team to analyze business ideas. Even more importantly to my inner wanderlust, the ATTP has given me the opportunity to explore a small corner of Mexico that I may never have seen otherwise.