Wednesday, January 2, 2013

I'm moving to a wordpress platform

I've been quiet for quite some time now, and that's because I've been trying to migrate over to a wordpress platform. I am NO IT whiz, so it has taken me time to figure it out. But come over and visit when you can!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Singularity University's Graduate Student Program: FAQs

Over Summer 2012, I attended Singularity University's (SU) Graduate Studies Program (GSP12). I have been getting a NUMBER of questions about the experience, and I've answered many of them here. 

Please note that everything I've written is my opinion alone, not anyone else's. For any official definitions, information, etc, I urge you to visit the official SU Website

1. What is SU?

I would urge you to check their website for their official definition. But here's my take on it..."SU" or "Singularity University" was founded by Space Entrepreneur Peter Diamandis and Inventor/Entrepreneur Ray Kurzweil in 2009. Both are MIT grads, and famous for having innovated concepts, and creating unique companies (and in Kurzweil's case invented truly revolutionary products). Peter had read Ray's book titled "The Singularity is Near" and was so inspired by the concept that it moved him to create an education program around it. The result is SU.

What it is or what it does or what its goals are, is constantly evolving. It didn't seem clear to anyone I asked, including the staff and affiliates, who all gave me different answers/definitions while I was there. It is supposed to be a "non profit educational institute", but its MUCH more of a for-profit incubator. Or atleast that's what they are turning into

The easiest way I would define it is a guinea pig lab. The hope is that if you throw together a bunch of smart people from diverse backgrounds (in the same vein as IDEO, MIT or TED style), give them a lot of knowledge against the backdrop of Silicon Valley, you will get great output. 

They were in the process of filming a documentary about SU while I was there. Perhaps when that comes out, it will make more sense...

Here's a trailer of the GSP2010:

2. What is "The Singularity"??

For the unabridged version, read Ray Kurzweil's book "The Singularity is Near" or watch Documentaries "The Transcendent Man" or "The Singularity is Near." That might shed some light. 

Since I find the official definition(s) confusing, here's my take on is a term coined by Kurzweil to indicate the point at which "machine intelligence will eclipse human intelligence." According to him, machine intelligence is growing at an exponential rate compared to human intelligence. At some point (I think he predicts 2045 or 2050), machines will meet and then become smarter than humans. That point of meeting is called "The Singularity."

3. Do you believe in "the Singularity"? Do they preach it at SU?

No I don't believe in the Singularity, nor do you need to in order to attend SU. Nor was I the only one who didn't believe in it. 

SU doesn't force any doctrine per se, except that there is an underlying theory of it floating around. Its why they teach you about "exponential technologies" (i.e. technologies that are improving at a rapid or 'exponential" rate). They do show you the Singularity Documentaries (see #2 above), and Ray Kurzweil delivers a few lectures on the subject. But Ray is a gentle soul...he doesn't force his doctrine or ways of thinking on anyone... 

4. How did you hear about SU? How did you come to attend it?

I heard about SU from Peter Diamandis (coFounder of SU) in 2008, while I was working for him at the XPRIZE Foundation. Then, it was still a concept that he was working hard to put together. It was a phenomenally enticing idea -- a summer of interdisciplinary education with game-changing faculty, and innovative people. 

Peter kept encouraging me to apply and attend the first year in 2009; and thenceforth with every class. But I was tied down. Fortunately, things came together (schedule-wise) this year; I applied, and was accepted.

5. Is SU a real University??

No. You have to be accredited, in order to be a University. 

SU has no full-time faculty and very limited full-time staff. SU is modeled after the International Space University (ISU) also cofounded by Peter Diamandis; both of which focus on interdisciplinary education, and supplement university education with practical elements like practitioner-based lectures, field visits, workshops, and projects. 

There is no campus per se. SU leases (I think) facilities on the NASA/Ames Base in Mountain View, CA; two small buildings -- one houses their operations and incubatorial activities, and the other classroom space in which the GSP (and other programs) are held. 

6. Have you attended International Space University (ISU)? Can you attend SU if you are an ISU alum?What's the difference between SU and ISU?

No, I have not attended ISU. You can attend both, without any issues, as there were classmates of mine who were ISU alums. 

The key difference (amongst many other things) between the two is their subject focus. ISU is focused entirely on Space and Space-related issues. SU is MUCH broader and generalistic. Although housed on a NASA base,  "Space" is only a SMALL part of the programs and activities.

7. What is the Graduate Studies Program or GSP?

Check here for the official definition, and goals. From what I have been told and experienced, it is their flagship education program that is spread out across 10 weeks in the summer at the NASA/Ames campus in Mountain View, CA. 

It brings together a diverse group of participants and over the course of the ten weeks exposes them to a variety of topics through practitioner lectures, workshops, site visits and group projects.

Check out a video of our class: 

8. Who generally attends GSP? What is the curriculum?

You can see some alum profiles and the curriculum on the website. Students are supposed to come from "everywhere" and be doing "everything". So essentially, anyone can apply to attend. Also, SU has generous scholarship packages to cover those who cannot afford the steep $25,000 fee. This makes it possible for anyone to attend once accepted.

The curriculum and the profile of the student class seems to change every year. It is supposed to be ten weeks (as of this year) of exposure to "exponential technologies" (an SU term for technology fields that are developing at a rapid rate); you are supposed to come away with an understanding of what the following fields are and where they are heading in the next 10-15 years: medicine, neuroscience, aerospace, Finance, Economics, Law, Policy, Ethics, Energy, Environment, Artificial Intelligence, Computing, Entrepreneurship, Biotechnology and Nanotechnology. 

During my program (summer 2012), Lectures/Classes ran for the first 7+ weeks, followed by Team Project work for 1+ weeks, and the last week was dedicated to "Launch" (a term for the last week meant to teach you how to take your team project and turn it into a company, if you so wish).

Your team project is supposed to take your knowledge of "exponential technologies" to address one of the Global Grand Challenges -- issues that supposedly affect the lives of 1 Billion people. These include energy, water, environment, space,  global health, poverty, education, and security.

9. What was your class composition like?

I don't remember the exact stats, but here's a close guesstimate: 80 students representing ~36 countries. The youngest participant was 21 (from Indonesia); the oldest was 52 (from Spain); the average age was around 28. ~10% of the class was from Asia + Sub Saharan Africa combined; North America had the largest representation, then Europe, and finally South America; the middle east was also minimally represented.

10. What's a typical day like?? Do you get weekends off?

Days are LONG, with 6-day work-weeks. Most weeks, you only get Sundays off. We did not even get Independence Day (July 4th) off. 

Of the 10 weeks, 7.5 weeks are "lecture weeks"; followed by 1.5 weeks of "group project"; ending with a "launch week." 

The "lecture weeks" (Week 1 thru Week 8.5) were the longest and least flexible (and least fun for me!). Class started at 9AM; and often went as late as 11PM. One day, it went until 1:30AM! The typical lecture day was broken up with meal breaks, and "wellness hour", though these were often eaten into to allow for unstructured student activity (discussion groups, hobby groups, etc). So you could easily go 18 hours without much of a break. Skipping lectures was not allowed; students were admonished and even punished for missing class or being late.

The monotony of "Lecture weeks" was mitigated by staggering lectures from different fields or by having panel discussions or working groups instead of a pure lecture. Sometimes you had workshops, and if you were lucky a "field visit" that actually took you off-site. But it was common to have 12-15-hour days of incessant lecturing.

The "Group Project" period (week 8 and 9) was the most flexible (and most fun for me!). Meals were provided as scheduled, but the rest of the day was yours to do with as you pleased. This allowed you and your team to structure your day as you wished, consult necessary people, conduct research, do deep dives into field work, tinker/build, and develop a focused team project.

"Launch week" (Week 10) was a light and relaxed combination of Lecture and Group Project Weeks, that started at 9AM and ended somewhere between 3-5PM. I found this period to be particularly insightful. Lectures focused on imparting practical information about how to launch a company. Immigration lawyers, patent lawyers, seasoned entrepreneurs, incubator officers, loan officers, angel investors, venture capitalists, and alumni all came to present us with information that was relevant to building and launching a company here or abroad. Resources were discussed and shared. 

11. What is the team project? How do you choose your team and your project? What happens at the end?

By the fifth week, you were expected to have formed a team of four (in the past, it was larger teams but they cut it down based on feedback), though how you do it and what you decide to work on is entirely upto you. This disorganized team-formation had its own issues. Because the program is SO packed, you barely have time to meet all the people in your class, know their interests, and come up with a coherent team. Naturally, there was LOTS of drama and hurt feelings, gossiping and rumors. Many teams broke up and re-formed over the course of the ten weeks. By the end of the program, there were 20+teams (for a class of 80) that ranged in size from one to a team of 12.

Your team project can focus on "anything" (as we learned this was not true, see #12 below) so long as it uses "exponential technologies" as a means to change a Billion lives, and must address at least one "Global Grand Challenge" of water, energy, food, global health, environment, poverty, space, and security. People come up with all sorts of things -- drone companies, urban agricultural pods, water companies, wifi companies etc.

I greatly enjoyed this portion of SU, in fact, my favorite part. I loved the flexible schedule, greatly enjoyed getting to know my teammates, loved working jointly on a project we were all passionate about, and generally learned a lot. The last two days of the "Group Project" period are extremely stressful because you have to present your concept first in front of a panel of judges in a semi-public, and later a public forum. 

12. What was your team project?? What happened to it?

My team and I wanted to focus on important and intractable issues that were ignored by SU's curriculum and previous student groups but could potentially be addressed by technology, including war, drunk driving, sex trafficking, pedophilia, rape, corruption, etc. We ended up focusing on "War", specifically the "Mexican Drug War" because it has the highest casualties in the world right now and is happening on the US-Mexico border everyday, located just south of where we were. 

It was an absolutely fascinating thought experiment to see how to apply technological solutions to this problem. We researched the causes, brokedown the problem further, and decided to focus on disrupting the supply chain of drugs. I think we came up with a very interesting and innovative solution that was fun, safe and legal.

However, hours before we were due to go on stage, the SU staff got nervous and asked that we change our concept to be less "controversial." It was enormously frustrating and disappointing. We did change everything to fit within their comfort zone; but it was a "sell out" and we were too worn out to pursue things further. The project effectively died at that point. 

For a place that supposedly challenges "the establishment," promotes entrepreneurship and risk-taking, along with audacious ideas, and based in the heart of the liberal Bay Area, I was grossly disappointed, both with their decision and the way they handled the whole thing. 

13. What typically happens with Group Projects?

Ours was an atypical situation. Most students choose more conventional paths and projects; and then turn some of these into companies that are either incubated within SU or elsewhere. Sometimes the teams stay together; sometimes they change their focus; sometimes they break up and the concept lives on with another group. To date, a few companies have come out of GSP, the most successful of which is GetAround (car-sharing company). Others include MadeInSpace (3D printing in space); 9th Sense Robotics (robot company); and Scanadu (mobile medical device company)

14. Is there a connection between TED and Singularity U?

This is probably one of the most-asked questions I get and its a little complicated to answer!! I think SU has taken a LOT from TED, and continues to be influenced by TED in a number of ways; though as far as I know there is NO official connection. 

Both SU co-founders Ray Kurzweil and Peter Diamandis are regular TEDsters (TED attendees). Peter has spoken a number of times at TED, and many of the speakers and investors at SU are people whom Peter has encountered at TED either as attendees or speakers. SU was also officially launched during TED2009.

SU has taken a lot of its day-to-day programming style from TED. Music indicates the start or end of a lecture; lectures go back-to-back and are not interrupted; they have strict time-limits with a countdown clock staring you in the face. Everything is filmed. There is free-seating. And, evening sessions have a relaxed atmosphere, similar to a TEDU or evening TED sessions.

15. Is there a preference for TEDx or TED-related people to attend as students?

This, #16, and #17 are also very popular questions. I can't answer them, to be honest. This is what I do know...

Four TED Fellows have attended to date (as far as I know): Luke Hutchison, Yara Shabah, Sarah Jane Pell, and myself...I think about one every year. I'm not sure if they were TED Fellows before they got in (I was!) or if that had any impact on the decision to be admitted. But I do know that SU tends to like the same things that the TED Fellows program likes in it doesn't surprise me that TED Fellows are admitted when they apply.

I know a few classmates who have attended TEDx events and even spoken at a TEDx event; but again I don't know if that influenced the admissions officer in any way.

16. What are the big differences between the TED and SU; and the TED Fellows program and GSP?

Well, there are HUGE differences in terms of length, focus and output of both TED/TED Fellows and SU/GSP. I wouldn't even compare the two; its like comparing apples and oranges. Rather than get into it, I would recommend that you visit both websites and decide for yourself.

That said, one TELLING difference between TED and SU is in the gender differences (which consequently reflects the thinking) in the leadership and upper management of both organizations. Interestingly, TED has a lot of strong, intelligent women behind each of its highly successful programs; from TED to to the TED Prize to TEDx, women at TED run a significant portion of the decision-making and operations. All of them have gotten their positions because they are outstanding at what they do; it just happens that they are also women. Yet this strength reflects in much of their culture and output --- the nurturing environment that enables creativity, and the quiet success that comes from high quality work that spreads by word-of-mouth; not aggressive marketing. Both men and women equally thrive there.

SU is very much the opposite...a traditional "Old Boys Club," with men (largely caucasian males) holding all the upper management and chair faculty positions; women generally have supportive roles, and are clearly not treated equally. While there were no female faculty chairs, we did have a few speakers who were female, some of who were outstanding and should've (or could've) been Faculty Chairs. Sometimes the differences were stark: for eg, two of our Teaching staff were astronaut-physicians (they were NASA Astronauts, with MDs) -- one caucasian male, and one African American female. Both were excellent, yet one (caucasian male) was a Faculty Chair with significant stage presence and title; the other was barely acknowledged. No one could tell me why. Similarly the one female Associate Founder of SU (who had written the first check) was a qualified lawyer, and anthropologist (and in many ways more qualified than her male counterparts), yet was only publicly acknowledged or given a role as an MC at events. 

SU consequently has a very masculine and "Western" push to everything -- a focus on branding and reputation (sometimes at the cost of quality), a culture of partying and drinking, a rampant air of self-congratulation (or chest-beating), and a very aggressive marketing style. Granted the student body at SU had a 50:50 male to female ratio, but that could've been because they just got a woman to head the Admissions. I don't really know. But this difference was extremely stark and obvious to me, and permeated into every aspect of the culture at both places. 

17. Is it easier to become a TED Fellow if you go to SU?

Another super popular question that I can't answer officially. From what I understand of the TED Fellows program, the answer is "no." Nor would I encourage you to do something (including attend SU) just to improve your chances of becoming a TED Fellow. 

Just so you know, I did work for TED (after I became a TED Fellow) and assessed TED Fellow applications for a brief period, so this answer is coming from some experience.

18. So, what did you really think of SU or GSP? Would you recommend the program to me??

Hmmm...tricky. I'll probably answer this very briefly for now. There were things I greatly appreciated about the place and the program, and others I didn't. I've communicated these points with the staff and hope they will take them into account.

Would I recommend GSP?? I think it really depends on what you are looking to get out of the program. Its a great place for a young, fresh up-and-comer who is trying to see what's "out there"; people who have grown up in areas where they haven't had the chance to get out and experience something else, or someone in a tired routine looking to jumpstart their lives. If you have already thrived and accomplished and met a good "tribe" of people in your own parts, chances are that the program will be disappointing.

SU has more of a "throw the spaghetti against the wall and see what sticks" mentality. The program is a whole lot of random-somethings that they've collected over time and knotted together -- lectures, workshops, people, field trips. They don't necessarily weave together seamlessly, nor do they come together in a coherent or consistent fashion. The quality is extremely erratic. So it can be enormously frustrating if you are a serious student or entrepreneur. 

Frankly, I don't think they really intend to change that culture.

To be honest, I love the concept of the GSP and SU, and I think they are important. But they have a LONG way to go before achieving the vision of that concept. 

For my part, I was bored through most of the lectures and detested the "chest beating" culture that dominated my time there. My favorite parts were the group projects where I had the chance to dive into real problems, and build meaningful relationships, or learn from classmates who had really accomplished things, or in the last week when we got to learn the real nuts and bolts of starting a company. But this was only 25% of the program, that cost a whopping $25,000. 

My bottomline: I DO think SU would make a fabulous incubator, which they started recently (see SU Labs). They are incredibly well-connected, based in the heart of Silicon Valley, love networking and advising, doing great PR, and have fabulous work space. Almost all the people within the top management are all entrepreneurs themselves, so their advice comes from a depth of experience. Honestly, incubation plays to all their strengths, and I believe they will be incredibly successful at it...

Of course, this is just my opinion...

Have more questions?? Email me!

Friday, October 5, 2012

New Research on Policy Impacts in Developing Countries

Women hold out their voter registration cards as they wait to cast their votes in India. (Source:

As the US moves steadily towards its electoral process in November, I find myself pondering the purpose of democracy and how effective it is in the Developing World. Having immersed myself exclusively in Asia for the past two years (and much longer in parts before), this time living in Singapore and experiencing firsthand the merits (and demerits) of a "faux-democracy," as well as a range of governance mechanisms across Asia, I am struck by the significant differences between the US democracy and that of several Asian nations.

Recently, I was reading a "briefcase" of information provided by the Jameel Poverty Action Lab (JPAL), a respected economic think-tank based at MIT.

About a month ago, JPAL and the ADB had an "Impact and Policy" conference, that focused on research that highlighted how policy might impact three areas: governance, financial inclusion, and entrepreneurship. Thankfully, many of the presentations are linked to the main conference page, which I would highly encourage you to take a look at.

Among them are a few that have already caught my eye:

  • Fascinating research from Brazil  and Pakistan that highlights the need and impact of transparency/outreach prior to elections (eg. independent audits performed on corrupt vs non-corrupt politicians, released to the public has an immediate impact on how likely they are to be elected or re-elected).
  • The impact that a good NGO can have on limiting fake drugs in Uganda.
There's much more...check it out here.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Acumen Fund is now accepting applications for Acumen Fund Global Fellows Program Class of 2013-2014!

The Acumen Fund is now accepting applications for Acumen Fund Global Fellows Program Class of 2013-2014!

The Acumen Fellowship is a one year program that immerses Fellows in world-class leadership training, field work with social enterprises on the front lines, and a community of changemakers and thought leaders.

DEADLINE: Applications will be accepted until 11:59 PM (Eastern Standard Time) on 16 November 2012.

For more info, go here.

Friday, December 2, 2011

What's up with this blog!!!

While I list this blog as one of my outputs in my CV and other places, it hasn't been updated in over a year. Many times I have started to post something, but have thought the better of it for several reasons.

As I stated before, I work in Singapore at the moment, a highly political place with a very low threshold for transparency (it is a country that has taught me the clear difference between transparency and corruption...they are definitely not corrupt; but they are also NOT transparent). My own workplace is particularly sensitive to any type of outspokenness (even when there is nothing to be afraid of), and I, like many others have learned this the hard way.

As part of my philosophy of living, I will be respectful of the laws of the land while I am here. And hence I am quiet...but not for too much longer...

Thanks for your patience; I will be back....soon enough, I hope...

Monday, November 29, 2010

Wat-San Jobs

Gates Foundation
Position Title: Analyst, Water Sanitation and Hygiene
Foundation Summary: Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill &
Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing
countries, it focuses on improving people's health and giving them the chance to lift themselves
out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—
especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to
succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, the foundation is led by CEO Jeff Raikes and cochair
William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.
Group Summary: The foundation's Global Development Program is working with
motivated partners to create opportunities for people to lift themselves out of poverty and
hunger. Within this program, the Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WSH) initiative focuses its
efforts on supporting effective, sustainable and scalable ways to assist the 2.5 billion
people who lack access to adequate sanitation. Our grants fund both direct solutions,
such as user-led sanitation, as well as indirect levers, such as improved information on
costing to achieve sustainable service delivery. In all cases, we seek to catalyze action
by others and to leverage the foundation's particular capabilities, such as taking risks to
drive innovation and engaging with a wide range of partners to achieve measurable
Position Summary and Responsibilities:
This Analyst reports to a Program Officer with a large research portfolio but supports the
wider WSH portfolio, and the director in particular, via a variety of short term projects.
The research analyst supports progress towards WSH strategic goals in three key ways:
Gathering, synthesizing and analyzing quantitative data in support of strategy
development, advocacy and policy analysis, and grant development;
Reviewing, summarizing and reporting out on academic literature and policy
reports in sanitation
Desk-based due diligence of partner organizations and critical agents of change
in the sanitation sector.
Tasks and duties will include:
Conduct basic research and analysis using publically available data at the request of
team director and other senior team members
Prepare reviews of technical literature, under the guidance of an economist and/or
engineer on staff, to support the development of execution plans and grantmaking
Provide analysis of policy, technology, and business model developments and
partner organization in the sanitation sector in key developing countries
 Prepare briefing notes, talking points, and presentation drafts in preparation for key
 Support briefing materials development for trip planning by foundation leadership
 Analyze, synthesize, and present data in Excel as well as Stata, Matlab, or other
statistical programs
This position will provide opportunity for a wide range of experiences and professional
 Significant experience with the particulars of sanitation in developing countries is
a must. This may have been acquired in a number of ways including, but not
limited to, a technical degree in science field related to sanitation. Examples of
desirable qualifications include: Civil or environmental engineering, epidemiology,
microbiology, or environmental economics. Masters degree is highly desirable.
 The ideal candidate will have a combination of degrees and experience that
combine technical expertise with strong analytic and writing skills.
 Experience in developing countries, particularly in Africa and Asia a plus.
 Strong quantitative skills required including statistical analysis; not only the
presentation of data, but its synthesis and analysis, will be required.
 Two to three years professional experience useful as a means of demonstrating
facility in a fast paced work environment.
 Creative problem solver with a rigorous mind and a demonstrated initiative to
solve problems with high energy and a positive attitude.
 Experience in a role requiring collaboration within a team and the associated
diplomacy that comes with that
 A sense of humor.
If you are interested in applying for this position, please visit


Gates Foundation
Position Title: Program Officer, Water Sanitation and Hygiene
Foundation Summary: Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill &
Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing
countries, it focuses on improving people's health and giving them the chance to lift themselves
out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—
especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to
succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, the foundation is led by CEO Jeff Raikes and cochair
William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.
Group Summary: The foundation's Global Development Program is working with
motivated partners to create opportunities for people to lift themselves out of poverty and
hunger. Within this program, the Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WSH) initiative focuses its
efforts on supporting effective, sustainable and scalable ways to assist the 2.5 billion
people who lack access to adequate sanitation. Our grants fund both direct solutions,
such as user-led sanitation, as well as indirect levers, such as improved information on
costing to achieve sustainable service delivery. In all cases, we seek to catalyze action
by others and to leverage the foundation's particular capabilities, such as taking risks to
drive innovation and engaging with a wide range of partners to achieve measurable
Position Summary and Responsibilities:
The WSH team is committed to the highest standards for evidence-based grantmaking,
rigorous reporting against strategic targets, and a transparent, iterative relationship
between our strategy, measurement plan, and execution plan for grantmaking. Our
approach to investing requires that we creatively develop results frameworks with our
grantees so that they can be held accountable for outputs and outcomes, not only
activities. It also requires that we understand for ourselves the opportunity cost of our
resources as deployed, the cost-effectiveness of the programs that we support, and
"what works" in water, sanitation, and hygiene so that we can continuously work to
increase our impact.
The Program Officer (PO) will support WSH team leadership in making this vision for the
WSH team a reality. The PO will:
Manage and make grants that to measure impact and rigorously test alternative
means of providing sanitation services.
Support the use of measurement and evidence in strategy refinement, reporting,
and advocacy
Support the use of outcome-based metrics for grantee reporting
The PO reports to a senior colleague with extensive experience doing and managing
impact evaluations and program evaluations and will work closely with the director and
other team members closely engaged with strategy development.
The PO will be given the flexibility to maintain a professional profile academically, with
time for independent research made available (up to 10% of time).
Specific responsibilities will include:
Make grants, and analyze results from these grants, in order to sharpen the WSH
team strategy and our ability to report on progress and value for money.
Determining, with team leadership, evaluation priorities, objectives, scope, and
preferred methodology.
Develop strategies and workable plans for using measurement to inform strategy and
reporting on opportunity cost and cost-effectiveness of WSH investment portfolio.
Developing creative and rigorous results frameworks for grantees that allow outputs
and outcomes to be measured and monitored, not only the expenditure of money
and implementation of activities.
Contribute to the larger measurement community of practice at the foundation.
Maintain an active role in the larger field of impact evaluation in both the academic
and policy worlds and function as an effective advocate for evidence based
approaches to WSH financing and development funding more generally.
Supporting the thoughtful use of evaluation methods beyond randomized trials and
other quantitative methods, including outcome mapping and process evaluation, for
grantees and clusters of grantees.
Research and analysis to report out on learnings and policy implications for the WSH
• Advanced degree in economics or related quantitative social science or public health
discipline (e.g., epidemiology, public policy, political science) required; PhD strongly
• Content area expertise in WSH desired but expertise in related areas (e.g., health or
urban economics, public finance, determinants of technology adoption, the
economics of R&D) may be sufficient.
• Expertise and experience in the area of rigorous measurement and evaluation,
including econometrics, strongly preferred.
• Thorough familiarity with logic models, logical frameworks, or similar devices for
framing strategic objectives, articulating key assumptions, and articulating results
• The ideal candidate will have a creative and rigorous bent that allows the deployment
of multiple other tools for assessing impact such as outcome mapping, if not actual
experience with other approaches.
• 7-10 experience working in development and/or evaluation.
• At least several years professional experience in developing countries.
• Strong communication and facilitation skills.
• Ability to work as part of a team with flexibility, efficiency, enthusiasm, and diplomacy
both individually and as part of a complex program.
• Ability to travel up to 25% of time.
• Sense of humor.
If you are interested in applying for this position, please visit


            NRDC Water Policy Analyst

Salary: Salary is based on a nonprofit scale and commensurate with experience.
Master (MA, MSW, etc.)
Santa Monica, California, 90401, United States
Posted by:
Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
Job Category: Advocacy, Public Policy
Last day to apply:
December 10, 2010
Last updated:
November 18, 2010
Type: Full time
Job posted on:
November 18, 2010
Area of Focus:
Environment and Ecology, Urban Affairs


The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is a non-profit national environmental organization with more than 1.2 million members and online activists. We have offices in New York, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Santa Monica, Chicago, and Beijing. Our staff of over 300 includes attorneys, scientists, policy analysts, and educators working to protect the environment and public health through advocacy and education.

NRDC's new national Water Program focuses on securing safe and sufficient water for humans and ecosystems in the face of existing and emerging threats. The program involves staff in all of NRDC's U.S. offices and fully integrates our water resources work so that it addresses water supply and water quality, surface water and groundwater, human health and ecosystem issues. The Program's staff is organized into four teams focusing on Green Infrastructure, Water Use Efficiency, Water & Climate, and developing a new water paradigm in California. The four program teams work together to implement a portfolio of strategies that maximize efficiency and minimize waste, prevent pollution, and protect and restore the ecosystem.

Position Summary:

NRDC has an immediate opening for a Water Policy Analyst who will work closely with the director of the Water Efficiency Team. The position will be based in NRDC's Santa Monica office. This person will play an important role in formulating and implementing NRDC's efforts to advocate for improved water use efficiency and water recycling in California and nationally, and will collaborate with a team of attorneys and other staff engaged in these issues.

Essential Functions:

Serve as NRDC's representative in a variety of state and federal regulatory, administrative, and collaborative forums, advocating improvements in water use efficiency and water recycling. Conduct analyses, manage databases, and research and write NRDC reports and media kits on key water efficiency topics and policies. Review and comment on water conservation programs, draft legislation, agency reports, draft rules, etc. Responsibilities include contact with regulatory agencies, the media, and legislative offices.

The job will include:

1. Review and analysis of current state and federal water conservation programs, and evaluation of costs and benefits of new water efficiency initiatives
2. Legislative advocacy on water efficiency and water recycling
3. Promoting increased integration of water and energy policy and planning
4. Advocating at the state and national level for product standards, model building codes, and other regulations that improve water use efficiency
5. Pursuing implementation of water efficiency and water recycling as means to reduce global warming emissions as well as to adapt to the impacts of global warming
6. Advocating for improved agricultural water use efficiency
7. Supervising the work of contractors and interns

Skills & Knowledge Requirements:

• Advanced degree in engineering, water resources, public policy, law, or a related subject
• Minimum of 3 years work experience in the field or a related one
• Familiarity with spreadsheets and similar tools for quantitative analysis and data management
• Knowledge of water efficiency, conservation, and reuse
• Strong advocacy experience on environmental issues
• Excellent oral and written communication skills
• Experience in building collaborations with non-traditional allies
• Strong interpersonal skills

NRDC offers competitive salaries, excellent benefits, and a dynamic work environment, and we are committed to workplace diversity. Salary is based on a nonprofit scale and commensurate with experience. For further information about NRDC, please visit

How to Apply:

To apply, please visit Please apply no later than December 10, 2010. No phone calls or faxes. Please reference where you saw this posting. NRDC is an Equal Opportunity Employer.


Lack of Engineers is Stifling Development

Lack of engineers stifling development, says report

Christine Ottery

4 November 2010 | EN

Female solar engineers

The world needs more women engineers and technicians

Barefoot Photographers of Tilonia

A shortage of engineers in developing countries, and lack of interest in engineering careers from young people and women, are hampering development, according to the first ever international report on engineering.  

Engineering is vital for raising standards of living and creating opportunities for sustainable prosperity in line with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), according to the report, which features contributions from 120 experts around the world.

But developing countries on average have only five engineers per 10,000 of the population — and less than one in some African countries — according to UNESCO (the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), which published the report. Developed countries have 20–50 engineers per 10,000.

The poorest are hit hardest by the lack of engineers: 1.1 billion people have no access to clean water, 2 billion have no access to electricity and 800 million go hungry on a daily basis.

"The crucial thing is to address people's basic needs: water supply, sanitation, better homes," Tony Marjoram, editor of the report and head of engineering sciences at UNESCO, told SciDev.Net. Around 2.5 million new engineers are needed only in Sub-Saharan Africa just to ensure provision of clean water and sanitation for everyone, says the report.

Developing countries bear the brunt of climate change, so ensuring sustainable development is also important, he said.

"Engineering is often blamed for pollution but it can create solutions to reduce carbon emissions and make energy use more effective," Marjoram said.

The report calls for developing public and policy awareness of engineering as a key driver of innovation and social and economic development. It also highlights the need to focus educational efforts on the need for more effective application of engineering to sustainable development, poverty reduction and climate change.

Only one country in Sub-Saharan Africa has an engineering academy, the report says. It also makes a link between lagging economic development in Latin America and its lack of engineers.

Pacific islands where cyclones, tsunamis and earthquakes pose a risk to people have an unsustainable and ageing engineer workforce, overly reliant on foreign aid, it says.

"The report makes clear that investing in infrastructure and the education of engineers in developing countries will be hugely important to development," Andrew Lamb, chief executive of the non-profit organisation Engineers without Borders, told SciDev.NetThe shortage of engineers in developing countries is exacerbated by a brain drain, Lamb added.

Women are often the ones to experience problems that can be solved with engineering, Jan Peters, executive president of the UK-based Women's Engineering Society told SciDev.Net. "If women are given the skills to solve the problems they have in their lives, the lives of their families will improve enormously."

The report, 'Engineering: Issues, Challenges and Opportunities for Development', was presented at the opening ceremony of the World Congress and Exhibition, Engineering 2010 — Argentina: Technology, Innovation and Production for Sustainable Development, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, last month (17 October).