My name is Dana Giacobbi and I am a volunteer with Engineers Without Borders Canada (EWB). I started out with a short-term placement (4-months, Aug-Dec 2010) but decided to extend it by an additional 6 months (Feb – Jul 2011), because I felt like I wasn’t done (and a whole bunch of other reasons). EWB has been a major part of my life, both in Canada and in Burkina Faso, for about two years now, and I’d love to hear from you if you have questions about volunteering overseas or getting involved in Canada (or both!).
Before hopping over to Africa, I finished a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, broadly speaking in fluid-structure interactions. Specifically, I was studying the fundamental dynamics of some specific cases of pipes conveying fluid (think hose), i.e. under what conditions will the pipes fail or flap uncontrollably (think free hose with way too much water going through it way too fast.) My research involved a lot of equations and a lot of computer simulations, so what does that have to do with development work in Burkina Faso? Directly, not too much. But I really do believe that engineers have something to add to social discussions, and have an approach to tackling development problems that is both unique and valuable. I’ve even found that many of the fundamental skills I developed during my masters (addressing root causes, synthesizing data into fundamental trends, …) turned out to be pretty useful. Call it social engineering if you will. (I’d be happy to discuss this with anyone who has a mind to as well!)
Aside from that, I am a Montrealer through and through. Wherever else development and life takes me, I’m pretty sure I’ll always call Montreal home, even if right now Burkina is where I live. When I get back, I think I’ll explore what it’s like to work as an engineer at home before deciding whether I want to jump off to somewhere new (or back to Burkina.)
I greatly encourage any feedback or discussion directly in the comments on this site, but if you want to send me an email, please do so at firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope to hear from you.
Thanks for reading,