Student Feature – Tim Clarkin

Tim ClarkinTim Clarkin

M.S. Civil Engineering, Civil Systems

Expected EDC Certificate Completion: Fall 2015

Undergraduate: Roger Williams University, B.S. Engineering, Civil Specialization

What are your hobbies outside of academic life?

Outside of academics, I enjoy a number of hobbies. I like to play guitar and piano, sing and write songs. At times, I get out to take photos and paint – but this is less often than I would prefer. I like to read books, write letters, chase meteor showers, watch sunrises, be still and travel by train – when time allows.

How did you become interested in global development?

For a long time I’ve been interested in the idea of building community. In high school I thought I wanted a career in urban planning so I could help save Main Street America from suburban sprawl – something I am still interested in doing. I decided to pursue a degree in civil engineering as a first step towards urban planning.

Each year of undergrad, I spent my spring break in New Orleans, helping to rebuild homes after Katrina. It was neat to help out and fit well with my interests in urban planning. It wasn’t until Junior year that I felt a shift. I felt like I needed to do something different and go somewhere where I didn’t have the security of my family, friends and finances. I wanted my faith to be stretched and I wanted to serve and learn about other people. I spent the summer of 2013 in Tanzania, working on a small-scale water system for a Christian organization, Wild Hope International. The experience was great. The people taught me many things, ranging from their language to the details about their daily lives and culture.

When I returned for my senior year, I used my undergraduate honors thesis to asses my work in Tanzania. As I researched development and critiqued my own work, I realized two things. First, I found I was very interested in my research of water systems in the developing world. Second, I discovered I had made many mistakes in my work and knew very little about how to actually go about building a water system anywhere, for that matter.

Why did you join the EDC program?

The conclusions I came to after working in Tanzania led me to consider graduate school. I spent some time talking with close friends and family and praying about this idea. I wanted to learn more about engineering and about working in the developing world. The more I searched, the more certain I was that the EDC program was the only thing that fit the bill.

What has been the most valuable thing you’ve learned from the EDC program?

In SCD I, I learned a lot about the history, theories and mistakes of international development. Revi (Dr. Sterling…), the readings and my classmates really challenged me to think differently and consider the complexity of working across cultural boundaries. I also really enjoyed the WASH class and learning about water treatment and designing small-scale water systems – information that would have been useful in 2013.

Where did you complete your practicum?

I completed my practicum with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Galveston, TX. My work focused primarily on coastal storm risk management. I helped inspect levee systems, completed geotechnical analyses and worked on updating the Corps’ inspection geodatabase.

What do you hope to do after completing your EDC certificate?

Next summer I will be returning to Tanzania to help Wild Hope enlarge their water system. Then, I will be moving to Galveston, TX to work for the Army Corps of Engineers. This will be a valuable opportunity to learn about large-scale infrastructure projects. Someday I would like to work on other water projects in East Africa. I do not know if this will mean a series of short term trips, a long-term, long-distance investment or permanently moving into a community outside of the US. This is a decision I will need to pray about and consider more before committing.

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