The Malta Independent 3 March 2024, Sunday
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MCAST students’ Erasmus trip to Sicily

Sunday, 14 May 2023, 09:28 Last update: about 11 months ago

Environmental students from MCAST's Institute of Applied Sciences (IAS) were accompanied by Dr Eman Calleja and Edward Falzon on a two-day training programme on Bioengineering techniques in Sicily between 17 and 18 April.

The trip was organised by Dr Calleja and financially supported by the Erasmus office within the College. During the trip, the students were taken to see various environmental projects in the province of Ragusa that included a slope stabilisation project in the archaeological park of Ispica and various other green infrastructures in the commune of Modica.

The 10 students from the BSc (Hons) Degree in Environmental Sciences and Sustainable Technologies were exposed to innovative techniques that are not currently in use in Malta. The host, engineer Gianluigi Pirrera of Biocity Engineering, explained that the challenges met in Sicily and Malta are similar in terms of land use conflicts and intersectoral conflicts that make the use of bioengineering techniques particularly effective at finding environmentally-friendly and economical solutions to problems in major infrastructural projects.

One particularly interesting project was the use of vegetation and geotextile mesh to cover the 50km long pipeline that runs from Lake Rosalia to Ragusa, Modica and Scicli. The  one-metre wide pipeline was laid above ground but covered with vegetation at a fraction of the cost with minimal visual impact and minimal cost compared to having used traditional engineering techniques that use concrete and steel.

The group from MCAST was also accompanied by a group of six Austrian specialists in green infrastructure from the University of BOKU Vienna, with their team leader being Professor Rosemarie Stangl, a renowned environmental engineer and general manager of the European Federation of Soil Bioengineering.

The Institute of Applied Sciences at MCAST offers a three-year Bachelor of Sciences Degree in Environmental Sciences and Sustainable Technologies. The programme offers a practical approach to teaching sustainable technologies and involves a one-month work placement with the environmental sector, as well as organises regular visits abroad to expose the students to the environmental challenges and solutions met in other countries.


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