A peek at MPA-DP summer field placements, fall retreat

**Correction: It seems that our blogging platform has a mind of its own when it comes to homonyms (peek vs. peak) We apologize for this obvious mistake and hope you won’t hold it against WordPress (or us). 

As a second-year graduate student in the Master of Public Administration in Development Practice (MPA-DP) program, I have many long, grueling hours under my belt spent in the many nooks and crannies of Lehman Library. Luckily, I’ve had great classmates (and now best friends) to work by my side. Mariela Maccado, MPA-DP ’16, is one of my classmates and truly an intelligent and inspiring emerging development practitioner.

Mariela Machado Fantacchiotti

Mariela Machado Fantacchiotti

Prior to SIPA, Mariela was a telecommunications engineer with five years of work experience. Through the MPA-DP program, Mariela has combined her previous telecommunications-engineering education and experience with recent development studies. Mariela has accomplished a lot at SIPA, so I wanted to share with you a little bit about how the MPA-DP program has supported her efforts.

“I came [to SIPA] to learn how to design, deploy and make a project sustainable overtime, while at the same time addressing the social and economic needs,” Mariela says. She later applied that newfound knowledge to her three-month summer field placement at Inveneo in San Francisco, which is a nonprofit social enterprise that delivers the tools of technology—sustainable computing and broadband—to those who need it most in the developing world in order to transform lives through better education, healthcare, economic opportunities and faster relief.

There she worked alongside their engineering department, studying drones for Inveneo’s upcoming “Drones 4 Good” project, and researching Internet policies and laws in Cuba focusing on information and communication technologies (ICT) development and freedom of speech. “MPA-DP prepared me to understand development in a broader sense,” Mariela adds. “I could now understand sustainability taking into considerations all the different axis, from human centered design to M&E post implementation plan. Thus, I was able to give Inveneo a new perspective on how to design, implement and measure ICT4D projects.”

To learn about other summer placements from 2010-2015, please check out our Summer Field Placements Map.

All of the summer placements on the map were introduced to the incoming students at the MPA-DP annual fall retreat. Held every year within the first month of school, the fall retreat is open to both first and second-year students, and it takes place in upstate New York. Considering the MPA-DP program is “small by design,” the retreat is a key programmatic milestone in building up both the unique MPA-DP spirit and a strong cohort community at the beginning of the academic year.

More than 80 students attended the retreat this September (pictured above). It’s a great kick-off event to the fall semester and provides an opportunity for the students to learn about program offerings, as well as to get to know each other and chat informally with the program staff.

For more information on the summer placements this year, or about the annual MPA-DP retreat, please feel free to email sipa_mpadp@sipa.columbia.edu.

[Photo courtesy of Annum Hussain]
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