Engineering in the Peace Corps


Material Information

Engineering in the Peace Corps
Physical Description:
15 p. : ill. ; 23 cm.
Peace Corps (U.S.)
Peace Corps
Place of Publication:
Washington, D.C


Subjects / Keywords:
Engineering -- Developing countries   ( lcsh )
Technical assistance, American -- Developing countries   ( lcsh )
federal government publication   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


General Note:
Cover title.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 027591506
oclc - 43251801
System ID:

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Full Text

I"I ineering

in the

Peace Corps


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Peace Corps Volunteer Bob Burns of St. Louis,
Mo., complained about a proposed rural public
works program in the Eastern Province of Paki-
stan. "Irrigation and flood control have to come
first," he insisted to Pakistani officials. "You
can't carry out a public works program without
getting flood waters under control."
One of the officials said to him, "If you are
so critical, why don't you stay and work with us
on an experimental program in flood control?"
Burns agreed to do so. Originally scheduled to
teach engineering, he obtained both Pakistani
and Peace Corps permission to switch his job.
Trained as an aeronautical engineer, Burns
found that his flood control program involved
him in civil engineering-not that this mattered
too much; the mathematics was still the same.
He started out in a small way when he surveyed
an area of 100 square miles for projects that

could be carried out within a budget of $200,-
000. Two years later, when Burns left Pakistan,
the public works program-including flood con-
trol-had an annual budget of more than $20
Not every engineer who joins the Peace Corps
is going to make as big an-impact as Bob Burns
did. But many of them will because they are
going to be in the right place at the right time.
Take Ecuador, for instance. Many boys and
girls there have never been to school. Nearly
half of the population is illiterate. But the
Ecuadorian government has begun a rapid school
building program with the help of Peace Corps
Or take Tunisia, a small country with a big
ambition-a better life for its people. The gov-
ernment has started an extensive 10-year de-
velopment program calling for the construction
of health centers, highways and schools through-
out the country. The problem is a lack of engi-
neers; most of them left after Tunisia received

its independence from France in 1956. That is
why Peace Corps engineers have such an im-
portant role to play.
Ecuador and Tunisia are only two of the 46
developing countries around the world who have
asked for Peace Corps help. They stand at an
economic, political and social crossroads. They
can develop along stable economic and demo-
cratic lines or succumb to political and social
unrest because they cannot meet the critical
needs of their citizens.
As a Peace Corps engineer, you can help de-
termine the direction these proud but struggling
countries take; you can make a difference. How-
ever, many of the countries where the Peace
Corps serves are not developed to the point
where they can utilize effectively the most mod-
ern and advanced engineering techniques. There-
fore, many Peace Corps engineers will be asked
to do things not entirely within the confines of
their profession, but where their professional
training will be invaluable.
For example, there are calls for mathematics
and science teachers, engineering teachers, vo-
cational school instructors and construction su-
pervisors where Volunteers with an engineering
bent can be of special help.
Other Volunteer engineers may become deep-
ly involved in community development, an ac-
tivity which draws upon every skill a Volunteer
possesses-and some which he may be forced to
acquire on the spot! Combining community or-
ganization, community action and technical as-
sistance, a community development worker may
find himself doing anything from distributing
milk to building a bridge.
Still other engineering Volunteers may have
totally different assignments with opportunities
to use other skills and hobbies such as coaching
sports, working with youth groups, helping set
up small arts and crafts industries, organizing
co-op activities, etc.
Because the Peace Corps is relatively unstruc-
tured in its approach to helping the people of
developing nations, Volunteer engineers will be
asked often to do many things which might not
be strictly engineering assignments. Nevertheless,


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Volunteer engineers serve in the following fields,
gaining experience in their primary skill areas,
and the need for them is expected to grow as
the economies of the developing nations continue
to expand:

Civil engineers who have joined the Peace
Corps are on assignments such as:
Preliminary road surveying and route location.
Road design.
Road construction, including everything from
initial surveying to soils testing and daily inspec-
tion of completed work. In some cases, Volun-
teers are project engineers in charge of every
stage of construction from hiring the labor to
painting road signs, deploying heavy equipment,
making minor design changes, settling labor dis-


putes and serving as paymaster, procurement
officer and inspector.
Road maintenance, involving scheduling of
personnel, materials and equipment, as well as
job supervision.
Building construction and maintenance.
Waterworks design and installation of pipe
and pumping stations.
Sewage and waste disposal.
Soils testing and analysis.
Plane table mapping.
University and trade school teaching.
Airport design, layout, construction and main-
Bridge and culvert design and construction.
Executive District or Regional Engineer, re-
sponsible for administering all public works
projects within a district or region.


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Jacob Feldman, a civil engineer from Wilming-
ton, Del., described a typical project to which
Volunteers are assigned. Working on a highway
program in Tanzania designed to provide all-
weather roads for heavy traffic and feeder road
systems to serve remote villages, Feldman wrote:
"I was part of a contingent of 35 civil engi-
neers, surveyors, and geologists. I worked as a
resident engineer on a 60-mile gravel road project
which was the last link in an all-weather route
between the Indian Ocean and the inland Lake
Victoria area. The road was built by an Italian
construction company with an African labor
force of 500 men.
"Modern earth moving equipment was used.
I worked with an English civil servant and two
African technical assistants representing the gov-
ernment's interest. The road was built for $25,000
a mile. As the proposed plans were both rough
and inadequate, there were many decisions to
be made during the construction period. Most of
my work was concerned with soil mechanics. I
also carried out realignment surveys of the pro-
posed route, quantity calculations for payment
to the contractor, and inspection of works-gen-
erally trying to see that the government got the
most road for its money. The last week on the
job was spent painting the road signs along the
completed road."

As Volunteers, mechanical engineers may be
called upon to help design more efficient agri-
cultural tools, new products to be marketed by
local industry or special equipment for manufac-
turing such products.
They are helping to lay out water and sewage
systems and plan plumbing, heating, lighting,
air conditioning and ventilating systems for
schools, health centers, recreation centers and
government buildings.
Projects involving methods and procedures for
maintaining heavy equipment tractors, bull-
dozers, cars, buses, road graders, airplanes, fish-
ing vessels, etc. require Volunteers with me-
chanical engineering training and experience.

Volunteer mechanical engineers are operating
machine shops and developing small foundries.
They also are conducting on-the-job training
programs for middle-level host country techni-
Peter Sigourney's first assignment in Malaysia
was to teach an apprenticeship' class machine
shop theory at the Technical Institute. The 50-
year-old mechanical engineer soon found that he
would be doing much more than teaching. He
installed most of the equipment in the hydraulic
and heat engine laboratories with the help of
several Malaysians.
"I discovered that the so-called skilled help
were chisel and hammer mechanics," he wrote.
This did not deter him, however. Nor did it dull
his sensitivity to the needs of his students. He
wrote several machine tool manufacturers in the
United States explaining the needs of Malaysia's
trade and technical schools. His request for "any-

thing you could send" brought contributions
from five companies. Sigourney installed the
equipment himself.

Peace Corps electrical engineers are playing
an important role as Volunteers in Brazil where
they are helping with the development of the
vast Sao Francisco River Valley. harnessing its
tremendous untapped resources for power and
Rural electrification is one of the basic and
important ways in which Volunteers trained in
electrical engineering can help developing na-
tions by demonstrating techniques of power
distribution to rural areas.
They also are needed to design and maintain
electrical hardware such as motors, generators
and switchgear used in power transmission. They

can help small industries engaged in the manu-
facture and repair of electrical and electronic
equipment such as testing equipment, signal
chasers, telemetering equipment and remote
Volunteers serving as field and design en-
gineers for host country agencies charged with
developing water and power resources can help
install the motors and generators required in
low-lift pumping stations, construct sub-stations,
supervise their operation and help maintain gen-
erating units in outlying areas. As community
development workers, they can help bring the
benefits of electricity to small towns and villages.

The concepts of efficient production are strange
ones in most developing countries because their
industry, so far, has been very small. Yet, they
realize that efficiency of production is vital if they
are to achieve an improved standard of living.
Volunteer industrial engineers can help them
work toward these goals in the following ways:
1. Most countries have set up agencies to
serve as consultants to their new industries on
increasing productivity. Most of their personnel
has been trained abroad, and few have had the
actual day-to-day experience of working in a
factory. Because of their small number and lack
of experience, their effectiveness is limited. The
Volunteer industrial engineer can complement
their work force, introduce new techinques and
train field workers in the mechanics of the job.
2. By undertaking surveys of private factories
and workshops in various fields, the Volunteer
industrial engineer can help bring to light the
problems faced by various businesses in their
efforts to prosper and expand. He should also
be able to undertake feasibility studies of new
industries and recommend their formation where
3. After doing studies of this type, the Volun-
teer may face resistance of the "it can't work
here" type. If he is sure of his findings, he might
be allowed to set up a pilot project on a small




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4. While the engineering colleges in most de-
veloping nations do not yet give degrees in
Industrial Management or Industrial Engineer-
ing, there is a trend toward giving seniors an
elective course in techniques and theory or al-
lowing it to be a minor area of specialization.
Usually none of the faculty has been trained
as an industrial engineer, but the Volunteer can
help develop course outlines and give lectures
and seminars to stimulate interest and under-
standing in the field.

Volunteers with skills in this field are doing
topographic and soil surveys, laying out irriga-
tion facilities, planning drainage systems, water-
ways and other projects. They are sharing their

skills and techniques with host country co-work-
ers so they can continue these developments
when Volunteers have withdrawn. Some Volun-
teers are helping to construct concrete ditches
and reservoir systems for runoff. Others are as-
sisting in the building of simple irrigation sys-
tems, drilling wells and teaching basic irrigation
and conservation practices.
Those with more extensive experience are
working with host country engineers conducting
experiments on the problems of water retention
and dispersion, as well as trying to combat the
loss of water from soil infiltration, evaporation
and deterioration of ditch canals and banks.
Agricultural engineers are working in Bolivia,
Brazil, India, Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan, Senegal,
Thailand and Turkey. Many more are needed in
these and other Peace Corps countries.

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3 1262 08856 1450
You must be a U.S. cuIIZen, at lease o1 years ola.
There is no upper age limit. Good health is a necessary
prerequisite but Peace Corps physical standards are
Married couples with no dependents under 18 are
Wencouraged to apply. Both must, however, qualify as
V" unteers. They will be assigned to the same project.
m7 ,u do not have to know a foreign language.
S. n't be deterred because you think you lack neces-
.,arv: skills. Many people tend to underestimate their
'' Submit a Peace Corps Volunteer application. Sub-
m -? Mission of an application in no way obligates you.
S Your final decision will come at the time you are invited
to train.
Take the Peace Corps Placement Test. There is no
passing or failing grade. It is a tool to aid the Peace
Corps in evaluating your capabilities.
YOU WILL TRAIN At an American college or
university. Perhaps half of your normal 10 to 12-week
training period will be concentrated on the language
of the country in which you will serve. Modern labora-
tory techniques will give you a working fluency in
one of 42 different languages, from Amharic to Swahili.
A NORMAL TOUR Including training, will last
from 24 to 27 months. If you choose, you may extend
your service up to one year, or re-enroll for another
two years in the same, or a different country.
YOU WILL BE PAID ... An allowance to cover food,
clothing, housing and incidentals. Medical care and
transportation are provided 1b Peace Corps. For the
duration of your service, you accumulate a readjust-
ment allowance of $75 monthly. You may allot from
this allowance in some instances. The allowance is sub-
ject to U.S. taxes only.
MILITARY OBLIGATION Is not satisfied by
Peace Corps service. However, Volunteers are deferred
for the duration of their assignments.
from Peace Corps, Washington, D. C. 20525; from the
Peace Corps Liaison Officer on vour college or uni-
versity campus; from your Civil Service Commission
Office; or from your local post office.


Peae Corps
WasMngton, D.C. 20525


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