Dan Irwin ('90)
A dedicated NASA researcher, Dan worked on the development of SERVIR, a system that helps scientists and authorities in southern Mexico and Central America identify sudden changes in environmental conditions, mapping details of deforestation, forest fires, hurricanes and toxic algae red tides. When Hurricane Stan blasted through the region in 2005, SERVIR mapped out areas hardest hit, identifying bridges and roads that were out and communities that were stranded. Rescuers and relief organizations had the information they needed to respond within hours. While SERVIR has a potential for global outreach, Dan is just as proud of his "playtime." When he noticed that children in his second home in San Andres, Guatemala, had few opportunities for recreation, Dan put his determination and energy into building a children's library and playground. He insists that it wasn't philanthropy, rather community development. Local kids participated in the playground design, and community members helped in construction. The result was a revitalized neighborhood and a sense of community pride. The projects were so successful that similar playgrounds are planned throughout the region. As Dan says, "There's nothing like the sound of children playing."
"Where some people have hobbies like golf, my hobby is community development in Central America. That's what I enjoy doing."