The first class of doctoral students will graduate in 2019.
Collaboration is nothing new. People have collaborated throughout history, building architectural wonders, developing vaccines and writing textbooks.
So when professors from Texas Tech University's Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering, College of Education, College of Architecture and College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources decided to collaborate, they came together to partner with four universities in Ethiopia: Jimma University in Jimma; Arba Minch University in Arba Minch; Dire Dawa University in Dire Dawa; and the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development in Addis Ababa.
The professors created four new graduate programs: a doctoral degree in civil engineering at Jimma University, a master's degree in sustainable water engineering at Arba Minch University, a master's degree in transportation engineering at Dire Dawa University and a master's degree in architectural engineering at the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development. The three master's programs in these schools are designed to serve as a pipeline for the doctorate program.
“Jimma University already is an established university, but it was lacking a civil engineering doctorate program,” said Stephen Ekwaro-Osire, professor and interim department chairman of mechanical engineering at Texas Tech. “My colleagues and I basically had to design the program from scratch. We taught all the necessary classes and coursework the students needed. Those students are not only pursuing their doctorates, but they also are being trained as the new instructors for incoming students.”
Working on the project with Ekwaro-Osire are several Texas Tech faculty: Joseph Aranha, professor of architecture; Tewodros Ghebrab, assistant professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental, & Construction Engineering; Dave Louis, associate professor of higher education in educational psychology and leadership; Gad Perry, professor of conservation biology in the Department of Natural Resources Management and senior director of International Research and Development in the Office of International Affairs (OIA); Sanjaya Senadheera, associate professor of civil, environmental and construction engineering and director of the Texas Tech Center for Multidisciplinary Research in Transportation (TechMRT); and Venkatesh (Venki) Uddameri, professor of civil, environmental and construction engineering and director of the TTU Water Resources Center.
“We have 18 doctoral students,” Ekwaro-Osire said. “Each student is going to publish two journal research papers, so we expect a total of 36 papers, which is going to be quite the effort. My colleagues and I are going to conduct research with them, then we're going to publish the papers. At the end of the school year, in 2019, the students will receive their doctoral degrees.”
Ekwaro-Osire said he believes the main reason the program has been such a success is because of guidance from the OIA and the team of Texas Tech professors.
“I have to acknowledge that we did get quite a bit of help and input on this grant from the Office of International Affairs,” Ekwaro-Osire sad. “I also think we have a very interdisciplinary team. We're trying to make people aware that in order to do engineering, particularly civil engineering, you really need people from different fields to cover everything from the environment all the way up to materials used for structures.”
Sukant Misra, vice provost for international affairs in the OIA, said the OIA is proud to support the collaboration.
“This project has allowed us to help Ethiopian universities develop their academic capacity, and we are honored to have been chosen to do so,” Misra said. “We are excited to support interdisciplinary, international projects such as this as part of the ongoing efforts toward comprehensive internationalization at Texas Tech and hope to see many more in the coming years.”
With just a year and a half left until the first 18 students graduate, Ekwaro-Osire is thrilled.
“We are very excited to have an impact in Africa,” he said. “We're excited about graduating some of the first doctoral students in this program we created. It's quite an accomplishment.”
There also are five other Texas Tech professors of civil, environmental and construction engineering who are providing their knowledge and expertise by advising the students in Ethiopia: associate professor Mukaddes Darwish;professor Clifford Fedler; associate professor Priyantha Jayawickrama; associate professor Ali Nejat; and associate professor and associate dean for undergraduate studies Annette Hernandez Uddameri.