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Ohio University to help rebuild Afghanistan

Marissa McDaid | Jan 28, 2019

Ohio University to help rebuild Afghanistan

Marissa McDaid | Jan 28, 2019

A civil engineering professor at Ohio University is leading a new partnership with the government of Afghanistan to help rebuild and rehabilitate the country’s infrastructure.

Russ Professor of Civil Engineering Shad Sargand, who is also vice director for business development at the Russ College of Engineering and Technology’s Ohio Research Institute for Transportation and the Environment (ORITE), has been developing a relationship with the country’s Ministry of Public Transport, formerly the Ministry of Public Works, for years.

Signed in November, the five-year agreement between ORITE and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan tasks ORITE with training engineers, developing data management systems and creating construction specifications, and more.

It’s the second partnership between an Afghan government entity and OHIO – in 2013, ORITE helped establish the Afghan National Construction Laboratories (ANCL).

Sargand, a native of Afghanistan, said he quickly realized that the country would benefit from broader support. “We were asked to review some construction plans, and it quickly became evident there was a need for additional help we could provide, beyond establishing the laboratory,” Sargand said.

Infrastructure work will be carried out through a series of task orders. The first project will be the establishment of a pavement management system, totaling $1.38 million. ORITE Research Engineer Roger Green, who brings 33 years of experience as a pavement specialist from the Ohio Department of Transportation, will lead this portion.

“More recently there has been a lot of effort spent constructing and rehabilitating roads, which are not always well built and more frequently are not well-maintained,” Sargand explained. “To properly manage the road network, construction work needs to be properly programmed and performed, which is the function of a pavement management system.”

ORITE engineers will determine what data they need to collect for each road and begin recording information such as traffic counts, road design, materials used and pavement condition. Afghan road authorities will be trained to access and analyze this information using software. The data will then help the Ministry plan appropriate preventative maintenance. ORITE’s work in Afghanistan will not only help restore some of the country’s infrastructure, but help the Ministry better maintain its man-made and natural resources.

Russ College graduate students will also support the contract, with the opportunity to write their thesis or dissertation about their work. Current civil engineering Ph.D. candidate Hashim Pashtun, MS ’14, also an Afghan native, is working full-time in ORITE’s Kabul office already.

Colleen Carow contributed to this story.