Thursday, March 11, 2010

Aquaculture Short-Course: Cornell University

Directly after the short-course in Bar Harbor, Maine, I flew to Ithaca, New York to attend the second of the two courses on recirculating aquaculture systems. This course was offered by the Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering at Cornell University. It was taught by Drs. Mike Timmons and James Ebeling, who, along with Summerfelt and Vinci at the Freshwater Institute, are some of the leading aquaculture recirculation experts in the world.

I landed in Ithaca on Sunday afternoon and was planning to retire to the hotel room that I had booked. Instead, I was met at the airport by an old friend who attends Cornell and was taking courses there over the summer. I hadn’t seen him in a long time, and we spent the afternoon and evening catching up and sharing stories (I had just returned from Israel only one week ago!). He insisted that I cancel my reservation at the hotel and crash at his new house, on which the lease had already started but he and his roommates had not moved into yet. This house was literally across the street from campus, so I not only saved money but also a great deal of time by staying there!

The course started early on Monday morning, and immediately I felt a difference from the course in Bar Harbor. While the Freshwater Institute’s course was very formal and professional, this Cornell course felt much more relaxed and fun. The professors laughed and joked around a lot more, which I personally found to be a more effective style of teaching.

The students were again composed of professionals in the field, yet those in attendance at this course represented a much more globalized and international picture. There were professionals from Germany, Japan, Canada, Thailand, and Spain in attendance, which allowed all of us the opportunity to meet and mingle with a very eclectic group of people. We were able to share ideas and suggestions, and some of the conversations that I had with a few of the internationals were invaluable.

The course material was essentially the same as the one in Bar Harbor, considering that it used the same text (which was written by Timmons and Ebeling, the guys teaching the course!). However, as I mentioned, the approach was drastically different, and to be honest I took more away from this course than I did from the one in Maine. This WAS the second time in two weeks that I was exposed to the same material, which may have played a role in the larger amount of absorption.

Overall, I was very pleased to have had the opportunity to attend this course. Now that I have experienced them both, if I had to go back and only attend one, I would have chosen the Cornell course, as I found it to be a more efficient use of my time and resources. I formed much stronger friendships during this course than during the Bar Harbor course, in addition to learning more and feeling more comfortable with the material. I would strongly recommend this experience to anyone who would like more exposure to recirculating aquaculture systems and their design and implementation as it relates to the industry.

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