Alumni Reflections: Peter Korst in Chile

SCC Valparaiso team member Peter Korst was interviewed recently by the alumni journal of his social fraternity at the University of Illinois. Reflecting on how he leveraged his college networks to add expertise to his Smarter Cities Challenge experience, he writes:

When I was selected for the Executive Service Corp I did not know the project purpose or location.  For the four weeks before we left for Chile we would get briefed for an hour each week on different aspects of the project.   On the first call I learn it is a transportation project and… I reached out to the U of I’s Civil Engineering Department and the hooked me up with one of the professor’s who is very active in traffic analytics.  He spent time talking with me about the current thinking and practices in this area.  And then…..he gives me the name of a Professor he knows in Chile as they studied together at Cal-Berkley.  I ended up meeting up with the colleague in Chile plus his mentor professor who is sort of the godfather of public rapid rail transit in Valparaiso…

When we introduced ourselves in the meeting with the Chile Transportation Secretary and I said I was a Civil Engineer from Illinois, she said “I am a Civil Engineer, too.  We are colleagues.”

Asked if he would recommend the experience to others, he said:

Absolutely yes.  I have been at IBM for over 30 years and consider this experience the highlight of my career.  Doing something completely different from the everyday, testing and stretching my skills, embracing a different culture, being someplace where it was challenging to communicate, trying to make a difference in a developing country, being a positive face for the United States. For all those reasons and many more would I recommend this type of experience.  And there are ways to do it.  You don’t have to be employed by a big global company.  Even IBM worked with a small company that has people throughout the world that help put these types of projects together.

Read more of Peter’s reflections at the University of Illinois Alpha Tau Omega website here.


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