Retired Colorado State Profs Honored by Government of Egypt

On the 25th anniversary of a project they helped structure and guide, a retired sociologist and an agricultural engineer were honored for their contributions to the people and government of Egypt.

Former Colorado State sociologist Max Lowdermilk and engineer Wayne Clyma didn’t find out about the honor until fairly recently, when the awards from Egypt’s National Water Center were brought to the United States and presented to them informally. The recognition was "For effective Cooperation with (Egypt’s) National Water Research Center…on its 25th Anniversary."

Both Fort Collins residents were recognized for their work on behalf of the Egyptian government over the past 25 years. That nation, in the mid-1970s, formed an agreement with Colorado State for a project to improve water delivery and manage irrigated agriculture. Colorado State faculty members were involved in farm water management in Pakistan and were asked by the United States Agency for International Development to help design and carry out the Egyptian water project. Clyma and Lowdermilk had plenty of experience working in Pakistan, where they helped other Colorado State personnel and Pakistani professionals revolutionize farm water management. Work in Egypt involved a field team of agronomists, economists, engineers and sociologists working with Egyptian professionals and farmers to change water management in that country.

"An interdisciplinary management team at Colorado State also pioneered changes to make interdisciplinary projects more effective when personnel came from different colleges and departments," Clyma said. Lowdermilk emphasized that "recognition should go to all those personnel involved in the management and those that carried out the field work."

Egypt changed how irrigated agriculture was managed with cooperation between the Ministries of Irrigation and Agriculture, with personnel from each ministry working together in the field.

  • Yields of key crops increased.
  • Canal deliveries changed from rotation to on-demand.
  • Farmers’ water was supplied by gravity from elevated channels by pumping instead of being lifted by animal power.

The last step was to create farmers’ associations to encourage cooperation with each other and with government personnel. Lowdermilk worked more than seven years in Egypt helping to create and support that effort. "These changes were really revolutionary for Egypt," Clyma said.

The key results of the years-long effort, Clyma noted, were changes in how Colorado State professionals worked together, Egypt’s change in how it supplies water and improved cooperation between farmers and government personnel, essential to improving irrigation management.

In considering their awards, Clyma and Lowdermilk acknowledged the contributions of professionals in Egypt and at Colorado State and other universities. The result, said Lowdermilk, is that "we have a new generation of professionals in Egypt that now focus on improving water management and working with farmers."

Lowdermilk earned a B.A. (’52) and M.A. (’55) from Duke University and a M.Sc. (’64) and Ph.D. (’72) from Cornell University.

Clyma attended Oklahoma State University, earning a B.S. (’58) and M.S. (’63), and took his Ph.D. (’71) from the University of Arizona.