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Costa Rica has gone from being a purely agricultural country to be an exporter of technology. While it is true that its main industry is still tourism, there is no doubt that science and technology in Costa Rica are breaking through in leaps and bounds.

 

In recent years, the name of Costa Rica has resonated worldwide along with high-tech matters, today we want to highlight the technology scene of our country.

 

The chicken or the egg dilemma for science and technology in Costa Rica

 

In the case of our small country, we could say that this eternal dilemma was undoubtedly resolved to vote for the chicken. A little over 25 years ago, Costa Rica decided to diversify its economy and the “big” chicken that open the market was the introduction of Intel.

 

In 1997, the multinational opened an assembly plant for computer and server components. Two years later, the sales of the technology company presented 30,5% of all goods and services exports of Costa Rica.  However, the most important aspect of this opening was the effect it caused, attracting other technology industries to our country and the emergence of the need for specialized education in technology.

science and technology-Intel in Costa Rica

Intel in Costa Rica. Image courtesy of Estrategia & Negocios.

Nowadays, the science and technology industry is focused on biological and pharmaceutical products.  In 2016, the manufacture of medical equipment, accounted for 26% of all exports, according to Procomer data.

 

 

Ticos and the exploration of the space

 

No one could think that the words Costa Rican and space were to be put together in a headline in a newspaper. Or at least, that was thought about 30 years ago.

 

We cannot talk about science and technology in Costa Rica without mentioning the first Costa Rican and Central American to visit the space: Dr. Franklin Chang Díaz.

science and technology Franklin Chang NASA Hall of Fame

Image courtesy of The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.

His great career and admirable story are worthy of a movie. Dr. Chang achieved his first trip to space in 1986. Since then, he shares a record with Jerry Lynn Ross, accumulating seven trips in space shuttles.

 

However, when talking about science in technology in Costa Rica, his greatest contributions have been: the seed that sowed in all Costa Ricans in thinking that a Tico can achieve great things in this once unthinkable field, and his current project in Guanacaste: Ad Astra Rocket.

 

Dr. Chang designed a rocket that uses plasma for its propulsion.  This rocket among other projects is competing in creating the best technology to send a mission to Mars.  This technology would allow humans to travel at ultra-high speeds allowing Humankind to get to Mars in just 39 days.

science and technology Franklin Chang with plasma engine

Dr. Franklin Chang with the VASIMR plasma engine. Image courtesy of The Tico Times.

But Dr. Chang is not the only Tico to walk the corridors of NASA.  Víctor Mora is an Aerospatiale engineer that works for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the NASA.  His contributions have made possible projects like the Mars Observer.  He also participated with the Cassini, a spacecraft that has orbited space for twenty years and was sent to explore Saturn.

science and technology Victor Mora NASA

Víctor Mora (left) with the “Soil Moisture Active Passive Observatory” (SMAP) at NASA. Image courtesy of La Nacion.

Most recently, the science and technology in Costa Rica allowed the launch of the first Costa Rican a few weeks ago.  The Irazú project created by the Technology Institute of Costa Rica.  The satellite was created to measure the level of growth of trees.  This way, the rate of carbon fixation in national forests can be recorded.

 

 

The future of science and technology in Costa Rica

 

There is no doubt that although Costa Rica has achieved great things in recent years, the future is expected to be even brighter.

 

The seed has been planted in our youth. To show this, we see constantly how young people from all over the country have brilliant participation in Scientific and Robotics Fairs at an international level.

 

Numerous educational institutions and non-profit associations have also joined forces to continue promoting science and technology in our country. One example is the scholarships that the Siglo XXI Association grants each year.  This program allows two young people to train in space science for 15 days at NASA.

Last year Costa Rica proudly hosted the World Robot Olympiad.  The WRO tournaments are held in more than 60 countries gathering more than 62,000 students with ages 7 to 25.  Each year in November the finals are hosted by a different country.  Our country was the first final brought to America.

We hope that Costa Rica becomes in the future a world power country for brilliant minds.  And, that Ticos help our planet in significant ways through science and technology.

 

If you plan to visit Costa Rica and learn more about science and technology we invite you to stay in our amazing Vacation Rental homes and visit the Ad Astra Rocket Project in Guanacaste.  Contact us now!

 

Featured image courtesy of UCR.