How we became who we are… A brief history of ISTEC

In an effort to improve international collaborations in Science and Technology in the 1990s, personnel from the University of New Mexico visited countries in Latin America to identify and evaluate opportunities for successful collaboration in science, technology and education. Meetings were held with officials from various governments, educational institutions, research facilities, and industrial firms to gauge interest in establishing efforts for international cooperation in technical fields. The meetings resulted in the identification of areas of common interest for employing hands-on education, research, and technology transfer in state-of-the-art technology and science. As a result of these visits, an organizational meeting was held in December of 1990, at the University of New Mexico, involving personnel from universities, industries, governments, and foundations throughout Ibero-America. These discussions, which resulted in the creation of the Ibero-American Science and Technology Education Consortium (ISTEC), identified a number of obstacles that needed to be addressed:

  • Lack of current information for planning and developing technology
  • Lack of expertise in the use of information
  • Lack of international cooperation in developing the critical mass needed for projects and joint efforts
  • Lack of interaction (and lack of confidence) among universities, industries, governments, and international agencies
  • Lack of availability of technology
  • Lack of entrepreneurship to bring technology and intellectual property to the marketplace

The above difficulties were aggravated by another problem: the lack of awareness of the simultaneous existence and interaction of the above obstacles. It was a consensus among the participants in the December 1990 meeting that traditional mechanisms for cooperation were not sufficient, and new, more effective mechanisms and paradigms were needed. As a result of the meeting, ISTEC was created, and universities, industries, and other organizations become members by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). In 1999, the Consortium officially became a U.S. 501 (c) (3) non-profit institution, comprised of:

(1) a General Assembly (GA) to which all members belong, and which sets policy and direction;

(2) a Board of Directors, made up of academic and industrial members of the General Assembly, and which implements policies and promotes the Consortium, and

(3) an Executive Office that handles the day-to-day operations of the organization.