Lisa Jervey Lennox, 
Assistant Director for Communications
In Cornell Institute for Public Affairs

Students pursuing the CIPA Infrastructure Project Management and Finance (IPMF) Certificate traveled to Puerto Rico in January to do fieldwork for their practicum. Led by John Foote, the IPMF faculty coordinator, students examined options for providing Internet service to public institutions, (e.g., libraries, clinics, hospitals, municipal buildings, etc.) and households in Puerto Rico which are situated in municipalities that do not currently have adequate service.  

This was the third annual practicum. The first was in New York City looking at the proposed Brooklyn Queens Streetcar (BQX). The second was in Ithaca focused on identifying ways to improve air service in the Southern Tier of New York City. Puerto Rico was selected as the site for this year’s practicum because of the many infrastructure challenges facing the Commonwealth. “For someone interested in infrastructure—water, transportation, power, telecom—Puerto Rico is rich in opportunities as the island rebuilds after Maria”, said Foote. He added that broadband was chosen as the focus “because of its critical role in supporting the island’s economic recovery and building resiliency in the event of future natural disasters”.

Based on their research and discussions with stakeholders in Puerto Rico, students in the course devised a plan to leverage the high-speed broadband infrastructure currently in place at each of the public schools in Puerto Rico.  They prepared a white paper outlining their proposal, the benefit being that it avoids extensive infrastructure improvements.

“The approach described in this white paper holds significant potential to address ‘Internet gaps’ in Puerto Rico in a cost effective and rapid manner,” says Foote. 

CIPA IPMF Fellow Elizabeth Lembo ’19, provided commentary on the student experience in Puerto Rico in a series of blog posts:  “CIPA Infrastructure Practicum Course Takes Students to Puerto Rico in January” and  “CIPA Infrastructure Practicum Course: Visit to the S.U. Botijas School.”


Infrastructure practicum

Students on the infrastructure practicum in Puerto Rico

Students pursuing a CIPA certificate in Infrastructure Project Management and Finance, traveled to Puerto Rico in January to do field work for their practicum.  Students were intent on learning about the current state of broadband Internet in Puerto Rico and to construct a two-fold product that will support schools in their role as “anchor institutions.”