Costa Rica’s Soltis Center hosts
college freshmen for a week


A group of freshmen students from the Texas A&M College of Architecture experienced the Central American rain forest first hand during a May minimester at the university’s new Soltis Center for Research and Education in Costa Rica.

Twenty-one students made the trip, which was sponsored by the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Programs and Associate Provost for Academic Services, The selection critieria was simple: the college chose the 21 applicants with the highest grade-point averages.

Led by Jorge Vanegas professor of architecture and dean of the college, students were asked to create designs in certain parts of the rain forest.

“On our orientation hike into the forest,” said Elton Abbott, the college’s assistant dean for special projects, “we looked at areas that could use some physical design intervention, things like a rest stop or bridge or scenic point.”

Abbott said it was an exercise in observation, and understanding what needs might be, then providing design solutions using regional and sustainable materials.

One of the highlights of the trip was a ride on a zip line tour of the nearby Monteverde Cloud Forest.

Students rode up to a point 3,500 feet high in lifts, then literally “zipped” back down on a series of eight different zip lines.

“It was very high,” said Abbott. “You were not only high off the mountain, at one point you were 900 feet off the ground. The view off it was just spectacular.”

See a video of a zipline ride through the Monteverde Cloud Forest

(Quicktime video, 21 MB)


Read a related story on the Soltis Center

- Posted: June 17, 2009 -

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