Special American Business Internship Training (SABIT) Program – Construction for Afghanistan Press Release and Photos (Visit Oct. 3-5, 2011)
For immediate release:
Afghani Construction Professionals Visit DFW for Training and Networking
Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, Oct. 3-5, 2011 – Fifteen construction professionals from Afghanistan toured the Dallas-Fort Worth area to expand their knowledge of construction projects for the first time. This visit began on Monday (Oct. 3) and ended with a dinner at IEA Inc. on Wednesday (Oct. 5).
This group was chosen by the Special American Business Internship Training (SABIT) Program, Construction for Afghanistan. This was the SABIT program’s first time hosting a group from the construction field in Afghanistan.
Training and tours for the SABIT group were performed by the Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD), the DFW International Airport, the DFW Connector Office, the North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA), and the office of IEA who was the Dallas host for the SABIT Program Visit. Linda Le, an International Trade Specialist from the Department of Commerce, coordinated and toured with the SABIT group in the DFW area.
“All of them [SABIT delegation] are the principals of the construction companies working on various US funded projects in Afghanistan,” said Shakeel Ahmed, CEO of IEA.
Shakeel arranged for the SABIT group to tour different organizations and construction sites throughout DFW. He said he was happy to see the positive reception and attention each of the companies gave to this group.
Day one of the SABIT visit was spent with TRWD staff, beginning with a presentation over current capacities and capabilities of TRWD, and followed with site visits of the Rolling Hills Pump Station and the Eagle Mountain Dam and Water Supply Reservoir. Lunch followed the site visits with a presentation over the current Integrated Pipeline (IPL) Project and other expansions currently under construction.
After most of the presentations were concluded, Kathy Berek, P.E., the Director of Special Projects at TRWD, made the observation that engineers are engineers regardless of the country they come from. Berek said that they all speak a common language – engineering.
Day two began at the DFW International Airport with a presentation by Perfecto Solis, P.E., the Vice President of the Airport Development & Engineering (ADE) Department for the DFW Airport, before heading on a morning full of airport demonstrations and site visits. DFW Airport provided a technology overview and demonstration, a visit to the current demolition at section one of Terminal A, and a visit of the construction site at the Fire Station.
“Our goal was to share the design, construction and technological innovations that are being used at the airport and highlight the importance of the initial planning necessary for large-scale programs, particularly safety. Our goal is to continue to connect with colleagues around the globe to establish best practices and lessons learned,” said Julie Ludeman, the TRIP Communications Director for the DFW Airport.
Ludeman said she felt that the goal of the visit had been achieved. “They were actively engaged and finding real scenarios where processes we’ve implemented at DFW could be utilized on their projects,” she said.
Following the airport was a trip to Northgate Constructors project office for the DFW Connector. Rob Anderson, the Deputy Project Director for Northgate Constructors, presented the current status of the Connector, followed by presentations from Matt Sigel and Justin Maninna on the technology Northgate is testing on this project for the first time.
Northgate provided information on, “Project Overview and technology being used in design and construction,” said Anderson.
Day three began in the NTTA boardroom with an introduction of Elizabeth Mow, P.E., the Director of Project Delivery at NTTA, and J.C. Wood, Jr., P.E., the Director of Maintenance at NTTA. Mow spoke about the current and future projects NTTA has in construction and in planning phases.
Mow said to the group that they should, “start community involvement from Day One,” on their projects because “people want to know.” She said that throughout her projects getting information from citizens in the planning phase helps the project because people will then be more aware.
Following the presentations was a site visit to the Eastern Extension of President George Bush Turnpike, led by Paul Alsina, P.E., a consultant to NTTA from HDR, Inc.
To conclude the visit in DFW, Ahmed brought the delegation back to the IEA office for final questions and networking with the engineers of IEA and consultants of the firm. The Afghani professionals were encouraged to ask any specific questions about planning, project delivery, technology, and other design and construction related information that may not have been answered throughout the presentations and tours.
“We had presentations, a structural pow-wow in our Structural Managers office with all the Afghani structural engineers, and then we taught the group how to play White Elephant over dinner in our conference room,” said Jennifer Nelson, Marketing Manager of IEA.
Nelson said the visit to all the organizations made a difference to the SABIT group, and most of the group plan to stay in touch with the contacts they made to further relationships and expand on the knowledge gained.
“Linda Le has been great to work with, along with all of the organizations in Dallas that have contributed time to train and talk with the group. We thank TRWD, the NTTA, the DFW Airport, and Northgate Constructors on the DFW Connector site for all their time and patience in setting this visit up,” Nelson said.
This group of professionals was chosen to visit the United States through the Special American Business Internship Training (SABIT) Program with the Department of Commerce. They were chosen based on the applications submitted to the SABIT Program officials.
The goals of this visit were first to provide opportunities for growth in Afghanistan through the knowledge of construction trends and technologies currently used in the United States and second the development of personal and professional relationships between Afghani professionals and U.S. professionals.
IEA Inc. is a Civil and Structural Engineering firm with offices in Dallas and Fort Worth. Services include program and project management, construction management and inspection, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and infrastructure design.
Photos from left to right: 1) TRWD Site Visit led by Ed Weaver with Shakeel Ahmed of IEA and the SABIT group, 2) DFW Airport Site Visit led by Karl Joeris of Balfour Beatty on the BARC Team and the SABIT group, 3) DFW Connector Site Visit SABIT group photo with Shakeel Ahmed of IEA, 4) SABIT group photo with the staff of IEA Inc.