February 24, 2003 - Dartmouth: Katherine Osborne spent two years as an environmental sanitation engineer and oversaw construction of eleven kilometers of gravity-fed aqueducts in La Horma, a rural community of 700 located in the central mountains of the Dominican Republic

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Dominican Republic: Peace Corps Dominican Republic : The Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic: February 24, 2003 - Dartmouth: Katherine Osborne spent two years as an environmental sanitation engineer and oversaw construction of eleven kilometers of gravity-fed aqueducts in La Horma, a rural community of 700 located in the central mountains of the Dominican Republic

By Admin1 (admin) on Monday, February 24, 2003 - 1:56 pm: Edit Post

Katherine Osborne spent two years as an environmental sanitation engineer and oversaw construction of eleven kilometers of gravity-fed aqueducts in La Horma, a rural community of 700 located in the central mountains of the Dominican Republic



Katherine Osborne spent two years as an environmental sanitation engineer and oversaw construction of eleven kilometers of gravity-fed aqueducts in La Horma, a rural community of 700 located in the central mountains of the Dominican Republic

Katherine Osborne: Vamos a ver
by Katharine Fisher Britton

Katherine Osborne

One of the most important things Katherine Osborne D'94 Th'95 learned at Thayer School was how to make a design that works. As a project for ENGG 196/295 in her B.E. program, Katherine and two other students built a bridge that spans the Dead Diamond River in the College Grant. "It gave me real confidence in my technical abilities," she says.

That confidence came in handy in 1996 when, as a Peace Corps volunteer, Katherine went to La Horma, a rural community of 700 located in the central mountains of the Dominican Republic. There she spent two years as an environmental sanitation engineer and oversaw construction of eleven kilometers of gravity-fed aqueducts. She worked cooperatively with 120 farmers, who were divided into brigades of 20 men, with each brigade working one day a week. Under her leadership, they constructed two gravity-fed potable water systems consisting of cement block tanks, break pressure boxes, and over six miles of PVC piping.

"There was enough that I didn't know about digging ditches, picks and shovels, and concrete construction, that it was nice to feel confident about one component. If we built the aqueduct the way I designed it, I knew it would work."

Unknown to Katherine, the people of La Horma had a history of not working well together, and they had never completed a project successfully. Under Katherine's management, however, they not only succeeded, they completed the project on schedule. "I had confidence in them and demanded a lot. Also, water is something people here need and want. If you can do something that enables you to avoid walking three kilometers each day to get your water, you're going to be motivated."

Based on her experience in the Dominican Republic, Katherine decided to pursue graduate work in water resources and public policy. "There was a huge issue about the water rights for one of the sources we worked on in La Horma. A farmer claimed it was his water; the community claimed it was theirs. It took considerable negotiation and the help of an outside mediator for us to reach an agreement. In that situation, I was forced to come to grips with the complex roles that government, economics, and society play in the success of a community endeavor. My Peace Corps experience definitely showed me that there is more to engineering than the technical application of science and math."

"I would not have been an engineer had I not gone to Dartmouth. I found in Dartmouth's engineering program such a diverse group of people in terms of interests. I appreciate more and more how unique Dartmouth's program is."

Katherine completed graduate studies at the University of Texas in August 2000, earning dual degrees in environmental water resource engineering and public affairs. "I'm a problem solver and that's what brought me to engineering, but there's also a very strong social responsibility component to my personality. I wanted an education that could balance that. Graduate school was exactly what I expected and wanted and loved."

After graduation, Katherine spent five months as an environmental engineer with the Crisis Corps (a program of the Peace Corps) in Las Lajas, Honduras. While there, she designed a gravity sewer system for a rural community of 5,000 people. Since then she has worked for Camp, Dresser & McKee, Inc., an environmental consulting company that does planning for water and wastewater projects. She is one of three water resource engineers on a staff of 30 in their Austin office. She does modeling for wastewater and water distribution systems to help cities keep up with rapid growth.

Katherine loves being an engineer and credits Dartmouth and Thayer School with launching her career. "I would not have been an engineer had I not gone to Dartmouth. I found in Dartmouth's engineering program such a diverse group of people in terms of interests. I appreciate more and more how unique Dartmouth's program is."

So, what will Katherine's next challenge be? First, she wants to earn her Professional Engineer registration. "After that," she says, "Vamos a veróLet's wait and see." She might consider water and wastewater infrastructure work in the Colonias, a region on the Texas-Mexico border, or work with an agency such as the Lower Colorado River Authority, or international work for Camp, Dresser & McKee. One thing is for certain, whatever her next challenge, Katherine will be working to help improve people's lives.



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Story Source: Dartmouth

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Dominican Republic; Engineering; Sanitation; Water

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