Peace Corps at the Two-Year Mark

March 10, 2013

I spent the first year-and-a-half of my Peace Corps Service in Moca, a town of about 60,000 in the Dominican Republic’s central Cibao region. During my time there I taught computer classes for adults and high school kids which led to a successful collaboration with the Instituto Dominicano de las Telecomunicaciones (Indotel). With the support of Indotel I led trainings for over 50 attendants of government sponsored computer labs, in how to facilitate technology-themed youth groups.

Each point represents a computer lab where one or two my students work

Starting in November, I began work on an electronic medical records (EMR) system at Clinica de Familia La Romana a clinic providing low-cost or free care to sex workers and HIV patients among others. The project involves an implementation of OpenMRS.

Peace Corps Dominican Republic

February 14, 2011

Starting March 1, 2011, I will be serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic. According to the materials Peace Corps has sent me to prepare me for my time abroad, I will be volunteering in support of a computer lab at either a school or a Community Technology Center (CTC).

Prior to departing for Peace Corps service, the Peace Corps requires that you provide an introduction of yourself to in-country Peace Corps staff by responding to a number of writing prompts. Collectively, these are referred to as your aspiration statement. Here is an excerpt from my aspiration statement:

When considering strategies for working effectively with host country partners, I think as a Peace Corps volunteer I will wear many hats. When I read about duties in the Assignment Description like helping my community devise strategies to maintain its computer lab, I begin to envision my role as that of someone who stimulates creative thinking and invites community members to consider problem-solving from a perspective that involves what they have rather than what they lack.

To read the rest, follow this link to it’s page on Scribd (be sure to “like” it):
http://www.scribd.com/doc/42671293/Aspiration-Statement

You can follow developments during my Peace Corps years by visiting my blog at:
http://pcvcharlie.blogspot.com

Wrap-up Story for Innovative Changes

August 3, 2010

My AmeriCorps host site, Innovative Changes, featured me on their website to mark my year of service coming to a close. Here are some excerpts:

“Charles has been an integral part of the team and has helped establish Innovative Changes as a viable and valuable organization in the Oregon nonprofit community.”

“Charles helped us design our curriculum, articulate our educational vision, connect with partners and potential partners, identify and reach out to donors, and translate and preserve templates for key organizational documents. “

“Integrity and a good nature have been the hallmark of Charles’s work.”

Click here to read the full article on the Innovative Changes website

Internship in Guatemala: A Learning Experience

January 11, 2009

Nothing happens in a hurry in Guatemala. It took me three months, the entire first half of my IE3 internship to reach a point where I was happy and productive. But the lessons I got in those three months, in bureaucracy and business in tough environments, have been indispensable.

To understand the challenges of running a nonprofit in Latin America, there is really no substitute for going there and working as an intern. My understanding of social enterprise has been permanently altered.

I came to pilot a program for IE3 at an NGO that provides classes in language and technology. Little did I know I would be entering at a time of gross change and upheaval within the organization. During my time there they lost a fifty-thousand-dollar government grant due to corruption and about half the staff was laid off. They had to roll back an entire area of operations, their storefront, in order to stay afloat.

As a web developer, my role was to help leverage the web as a source of income. I was immediately tasked with completing a half-cooked project written for a system I was unfamiliar with and which was completely undocumented. Add to that power outages, lapses in internet access, and floods, and it’s not hard to see the degree of challenged I faced.

Having worked under such conditions, I truly feel I can work anywhere. From my coworkers I have learned many things; how to work around technological obstacles, how to navigate corruption and office politics, and even the life skills of patience and tolerance.

I will certainly not come home the same person I was when I departed for Guatemala.

You can read more about my time in Guatemala on my Guatemala blog:
http://guatemalacharlie.wordpress.com/

MECOP Internship: OECO

January 27, 2008

Overview

For my second MECOP internship I was placed with OECO, LLC, a 300-person company located in Milwaukie, Oregon that manufactures electromagnetic devices and power conversion products, mostly for the aviation industry. I worked for Tim Krajcar, head of OECO’s three-person IT team. My role as an MIS intern mainly encompassed the development of web applications for the company intranet. My applications will be used on the manufacturing floor to support operations.

Projects

  • Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) System – Web solution consisting of a comprehensive database of MSDS files kept by OECO as per OSHA requirements and an application for management of the database.
    This project consisted of several distinct sub-projects:
  • Requirements gathering
  • Gathering of MSDS files
  • Database development
  • Application development (general user and administration components)
  • User education (including nearly all 300 OECO associates)
  • Reconciling the digital system with the pre-existing vertical file containing physical datasheets (printing new datasheets, scanning old datasheets)
  • Documentation
  • Resin Mix System – Web solution to address costly miscalculations when mixing resins.
  • Receiving/Inspection System – Web solution to replace existing MS Access system for processing incoming inventory before use in production.
  • Electronic Stamps – Digital versions of stamps used on physical documents such as engineering drawings for a number of uses including conformance with International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).
  • Obsolescence data – Parsing of data stored in an awkward format so that it could be provided to buyers.

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MECOP Internship: Siltronic

May 3, 2007

Overview

Siltronic AG (formerly Siltronic Corporation) is the world’s third-ranking producer of silicon wafers. The facility where I was employed was the company’s only production site in North America. During my time as an intern at Siltronic I worked in several capacities performing tasks in the field of information management for both Tip Rouse in Management Information Systems (MIS) and Paul McKelvey in Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES).

Projects

ADE Status Application (Paul McKelvey, MES) – Development of a text-based application to present at-a-glance manufacturing information

Physical Hardware Inventory (Tip Rouse, MIS) – Comprehensive update of a hardware database with all Windows server hardware

General Assistance (Linda Ahner, Resource Management) – Cell phone recycling, organization of physical files, misc.

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A Day on the Road with the SIM Club

February 16, 2006

Last week’s field trip was an unequivocal success. After meeting briefly behind Weniger Hall to count heads, we took to the road as the sun rose (or at least seemed to rise) over another rainy Oregon day. Though perhaps marked by a swollen sense of competition on the part of certain passengers, the ride north went by in good humor and soon we stood at the steps of the Northwest Data Center Division of Affiliated Computer Services (ACS), a company responsible for hosting, operating, and maintaining data centers of global organizations such as Nike and Goodyear Tires. While the tour was impressive and the servers themselves quite large and fascinating, I found myself in another world of lingo and systematics quite unfamiliar and sublime. Jeremy Gragg, on the other hand, seemed right at home and had plenty of intelligent questions to ask.

Next stop, just down the road was Nike. At Nike we went from the museum-like multi-story entryway to an immense presentation room where we got our heads rocked by some rockin’ sports action and were briefed on Nike’s round robin format. Not only did they feed us, but when it came to presentations the Nike folks really got down to brass tacks. A very pleasing afternoon, all told. Next we toured some of the grounds and workout facilities on the 125-acre campus. Some might agree that the scale of things at Nike was grand, perhaps even swollen.

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MECOP Presentations

November 17, 2005

Amy
First to speak (she volunteered) was Amy. Amy interned with PSC Scanning, Inc. They partner with OSU researching wireless mobile data capture. Their end products include the scanners in Fred Meyers’ U-Scan devices. At Amy’s workplace in Eugene, there were about 1,000 employees, but she only worked directly with 30 people (other returning interns remarked that this was “huge”). There was a certain degree of surprise when she described PSC’s overtime policy and made it seem as if they pay you to take extra time on projects, but she assured us that her work was very deadline-oriented.
Amy said when she began, that she did not know ASP and SQL Server 2000, things heavily required in her line of work. She then told us that her experience learning these tools while an intern was better than learning them in class. What Amy valued the most about her internship with PSC Scanning was that it gave her a chance to observe the business process from within. She even remarked that she was often asked her opinion as if she was a salaried employee. One thing she found important was to “speak the language” of here coworkers.

Stephen
Stephen Andrada worked for LSI Logic at their Campus in Gresham where they develop custom semiconductor products. He found surprise in the great flexibility of hours LSI employees had, he himself working from 8:30-5:00 weekdays. At LSI, Stephen had the opportunity to work on four different software development projects which employed the use of things like .NET and PHP. His projects included developing electronic forms to track corrective action for “defect events” and software to process Cp/Cpk data (I’ve learned in my OM class that Cp and Cpk are statistics which are used to manage quality control).
The people Stephen worked with included test engineers, end-users, people from the department of human services, and another department called “ARO.” He said that in his position at LSI Logic it was sometimes his job to call meetings. To begin with, a lot was put upon Stephen to achieve within a short amount of time, but he was able to overcome this challenge by communicating effectively and getting from his coworkers a better sense of what exactly was needed of him to do.

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