E4C Research Fellowship

This spring I applied and was accepted for a part-time summer research fellowship with an organization called Engineering For Change (E4C). It is an exciting opportunity as the role involves researching poverty-alleviating products and services being implemented around the world in the housing sector. The information that I research will be added to a growing solutions library that is available to the public. The fellowship runs from mid-May to mid-September, and on the May long weekend I went on a trip to New York City for the kick-off session. While I represent the housing sector, there are eight other engineering researchers representing the other target sectors of energy, sanitation, ICT (information computation technology), agriculture, transportation, water, and health. The kick-off session was on May 19th (my birthday!), and so I took the Thursday until the Monday off of work so that I could attend the session and then enjoy some time exploring the city. I also decided to take the opportunity to make a quick stop in Boston by arranging to fly back from Boston instead of New York. Since I am horrible at planning trips on my own, this was the perfect motivation for a short holiday!

I flew out of the Island airport which was a fairly stress-free experience even though my flight was delayed. The more complicated bit was figuring out the bus to get into Manhattan and then the bus was stuck in traffic for quite a while (I found out later I could have taken the train!). I arrived in the city pretty exhausted at around 9pm. I had dinner on my own at the hotel and then went to bed early! The next day I made the short walk around the corner to 2 Park Avenue where the ASME offices are located. Everybody slowly filtered in and we enjoyed a light breakfast while we introduced ourselves. The morning was an introduction to the program and its purpose and objectives, and the afternoon went deeper into the standards for the research itself. I appreciated E4C’s clear desire to go the extra length to collect high quality data.

At the end of the session we went to have happy hour on a rooftop bar called the Monarch. From there we had a view of the empire state building and we stayed until the sun set and the empire state lit up green. This was a chance for us to talk more and get better introduced. I wish that I had more time with these people as they all seam so interesting and equally passionate about this work. This year’s fellows represent six nationalities! After the sun had set and our reservation ended, three of us decided to go up the empire state building. There was a bit of a wait but we were too busy chatting for it to really bother us. The view at the top was incredible. The view looked very different then when I had been up there more than ten years earlier! By the time we came down I was so exhausted I knew that I would not be able to accomplish anything else. Returning to my hotel room before 11 felt a bit anticlimactic, but I had a lot planned for the next day!

Here is an article on the E4C website introducing the fellows. I’m looking forward to a summer full of learning about interesting products, collaborating with great people, connecting with other global development practitioners, and making some written contributions! Ready, set, go!

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