Doctor from Space: ECE’s Mark Purio sets sights on applying learnings, experiences in return to Adamson

Date Posted: March 27, 2023 at 03:57 PM

Just three years ago, Engr. Mark Angelo Purio was in the Dean’s Office of the College of Engineering when then Dean Evelyn Raguindin received a call inviting a faculty member for a Space Engineering program in Japan – BIRDS, which the Engineering Dean quickly asked Engr. Purio if he was willing to apply for the said project. 

It was as if it was a match made in heaven as he was also looking to apply for a doctorate degree back then. 

And after years of grueling research and studies – BIRDS, MAYA, and all that came with it -- the now Dr. Purio has graduated with a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Space Systems Engineering from Kyushu Institute of Technology (KyuTech). 

Dr. Purio was a scholar of the STAMINA4Space grant funded by the Department of Science and Technology-Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI) Foreign Graduate Scholarship Program. 

The newly minted doctor returned to Adamson and resumed teaching under the Electronics Engineering Department. The Adamson News caught up with Dr. Purio about his feat and his plans after his studies and now that he is back in the Falcons’ Nest. 

He revealed that he and his colleagues from UP-Diliman and Mapua University have an ongoing project for a satellite contest organized by KyuTech and BIRDS-X. 

“The goal of our project is to put a payload on a satellite to be used for disaster preparedness and mitigation, specifically in communication in remote areas or disaster-ravaged areas,” he explained. 

He further iterated that since the Philippines is not a participating country for the current BIRDS project, they applied for the competition, which was more on the developmental than the research aspect. 

“I’m sent to Japan to build capacity, which enables us to do something on our own eventually. The Philippines has already spent a lot in disaster risk reduction, which has also affected many of our fellow Filipinos. If we can use satellite tech to alleviate our problems, since it can’t solve all of them, at least we can lessen the long-term impact and mitigation,” he explained. 

Dr. Purio also added that to realize his advocacy to encourage students to take a career in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), he has also taken roles as an adviser for Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS PH) and volunteer work with Space Generation Advisory Council. 

The Electronics Engineering faculty member then proceeded to show how his achievement could also further Space Engineering and education in the University, namely, by proposing a track for Space Engineering under his home department. 

The said track will include two to three courses and a capstone project related to space development. Dr. Purio also revealed that a laboratory had been established to complement future advancements for space-related matters in Adamson. 

“Hands-on experience cannot be replaced with theoretical ones. So, if we want students to be engaged in space-related projects on their own, a laboratory is a better way for them to learn about it,” he said, also disclosing that he will also attempt to procure software that could link the said track to other programs, first, from the College of Engineering. 

Dr. Purio has also recently been hailed as the first Research Laboratory Head of the Space Technologies and Research Laboratory (STARLab), which will soon rise on the eighth floor of the Dr. Carlos Tiu Center for Innovation and Research Building. 

He regarded the position and the lab as an avenue to practice his PhD degree within the academe, while also applying it in actual research, given that the facility is expected to be equipped with the necessary tools and apparatus. 

“For the STARLab, we’re planning to build a laboratory that can help students learn in Space Engineering [like in] ground station, satellite receiving, and remote sensing,” he said. 

“All the things I’ve learned from my laboratory experiences in Japan, we bring it here. I also try to partner with my former colleagues for collaboration [because] when we establish the STARLab, we don’t want it to be a stale laboratory; we want it to be usable and yield outputs.” 

Dr. Purio said he plans to implement the lean philosophy for his undertakings in his new position, where he is looking forward to more direct communication and information exchange processes with his future colleagues, who he admitted he had not selected yet. 

“Students muna, then we look for people engaged in satellite technology,” he quipped. 

As of this writing, Dr. Purio is still in Japan to attend his PhD graduation. He, however, is already looking forward to beginning his official duties with STARLab. 

“Upon my return, we’re planning to finish STARLab this semester, so procurement of equipment is in the works, namely for satellite communication and remote sensing applications,” he said, adding that once open, the lab will be opened to researchers who would like to do studies on space-related topics. 

“We want Adamson as a hub for space-related courses and establish links with other similar ground stations, and finally be part of the BIRDS Network, but for now, I can only focus on the things that I specialize in and then build from that, and later on expand further.” 

The BIRDS Network are linkages among institutions under its namesake project, an interdisciplinary satellite project advocating for sustainable space-related programs, especially for third-world countries. The said network spans Asia, Africa, and the Americas. 

His new position, Dr. Purio declared, would also improve his platform in sharing his knowledge as it gives him more credibility to talk about such a topic. 

Although still reeling from his doctorate degree classes, he has also returned to teaching with Adamson. He has slowly reintegrated himself into the faculty roster and the University's new teaching and learning methods -- sharing his experiences and inspiring students to continue their craft in the STEM field. 

“In space technology, they always say na mahirap, sobrang advance, but then again, we hope to get something from whatever we send in space. “