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Peace Corps and CSU: Profile on Ian Maycumber

March 24, 2011
by Ian Maycumber

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps and CSU's historic role in its early years, Today will be featuring members of the campus and Fort Collins communities who were involved in the organization.

Decisions, decisions

Like many seniors just before graduation from CSU, I was trying to figure out what to do with my life after receiving a degree. The options I had considered most were graduate school or joining the Peace Corps. My practical side was saying to get the master’s degree, while the adventurous side was screaming for the experience of a lifetime!

After I attended a presentation by a recently returned Peace Corps Masters International (PCMI) engineering student, I discovered I could do both. I immediately looked into the PCMI program and got my application for graduate school and the Peace Corps as quickly as possible.

Fortunately I was accepted to both and even managed to get Dr. Maury Albertson, who created one of the initial feasibility studies for the Peace Corps, as an advisor. Frequent talks with Dr. Albertson as well as a variety of courses (like Water Engineering: International Development) helped with my preparation for the upcoming years.

Overseas I go

After two semesters of course work I headed to the tropical islands of the Philippines as a water-sanitation volunteer. Like many volunteers, my job was not always clearly defined, but I had the opportunity to work on a variety of water projects including village water distribution systems, Ferro-Cement water tanks, and household Bio-Sand Water Filters. I also enjoyed giving presentations on solid waste management, natural resources, and coastal resource management to various villages and high schools. 

My free time was spent reading in my beach Nipa hut, eating exotic fruits and rice with every meal, learning a new language while making friends, and getting the opportunity to scuba dive some incredible coral reefs. My two years were filled with some very high highs and some very low lows (of which I will refrain from disclosing) that I would not trade for anything.

Toughest job leads to a career

Toward the end of my service I started to consider what would be a good research topic for my Master’s International technical paper. I became interested in assessing the best strategies for starting and sustaining Bio-Sand Water Filter projects. I interviewed four of my fellow Peace Corps Volunteers and a non-governmental organization, all of which, like me, had worked on Bio-Sand Filter projects in the Philippines. Upon returning to CSU, I finished my last few classes and wrote my paper. It was a collaboration of lessons learned intended to benefit future implementers of the Bio-Sand Filter technology.

I graduated in the spring of 2009, which was not the best time in recent history for those seeking employment. I knew that I wanted to work for a company that would value my experience as a volunteer, but I was uncertain as to how many existed in my line of work and if they would even be hiring.

I was extremely fortunate to be offered a position as a Water Resources Engineer with Riverside Technology, inc. here in Fort Collins. I could not have asked for a better company to work for but, like they say, the Peace Corps was the toughest job I’ll ever love!

CSU alumnus Ian Maycumber served in the Peace Corps in the Philippines from 2006-2008.

Contact: Emily Wilmsen
Phone: (970) 491-2336