The course: INDS 218 | The World Runs on Processes (Portugal)

The experience: January’s program in Portugal was all about processes—from the creation of cars to the making of pencils. Alongside Michael Senra, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, and Mathieu Perrot, professor of languages and literary studies, students had a chance to learn how processes, both technical and nontechnical, make the world go round. 

The course featured three factory tours during which students got to see the mechanisms that help make items used daily. The Volkswagen factory, Conservas Ramirez factory known for making canned fish, and Viarco pencil factory each demonstrated different levels of automation.

Students also explored the literary processes in the works of José Saramago and Fernando Pessoa, both celebrated Portuguese writers, while engaging in reflections on the art of translating and travel writing as processes.

“A number of our lectures focused on the environmental sustainability and ethics of processes,” Senra says. “It was great to see students embrace the idea and think about it while they were spending time in the city and also asking questions of our guest speakers, whether they be representatives of the city of Lisbon or higher-ups of the factories we visited.

“There were numerous discussions outside of class time thinking about how what they saw in Portugal could be transferred over to a place like Easton or their hometown, and what challenges would impact its feasibility,” Senra adds. 

For Maddy Horvath ’26, excursions outside the factories were the most memorable. “One highlight for me was our day trip to Setúbal, a fishing town in Portugal,” she says. “We toured the area, ate cuttlefish for lunch as a group, and went on a boat for two hours looking for dolphins, which we ended up finding toward the end of the journey. It was such a fun adventure, and Portugal is such a gorgeous country. It was so surreal to be there, just taking in all of the views.”

Categorized in: Academic News, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Faculty and Staff, Featured News, Interdisciplinary, Languages & Literary Studies, News and Features, Students, Study Abroad

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