By Dillon Brollier dillon.brollier325-659-8238
Updated Monday, June 11, 2012

SAN ANGELO, Texas — They’re coming halfway around the world to a land of drought to learn about water.

There are 11 graduate students from Egypt and Morocco visiting San Angelo to study hydrology under an international education grant for the next week, arriving Wednesday and staying through June 21.

The program will help them find work in hydrology professions, transfer skills to areas that need them, and put Angelo State University on the world map as a center for water education.

The Enhancing Capacity for Water-Resource Studies in Egypt and Morocco grant will focus on integrating technical instruction and field preparation for professional hydrology and hydro geology practices in northern Africa.

“It is through a program called BOOST — Building Opportunities out of Science and Technology,” Alan Fryar said.

Fryar is an associate professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Kentucky, one of the partners in the program.

“People would propose to work with young adults to help them develop professional skills, because there were concerns from young people in the area about unemployment being high.”

The students had to meet specific criteria to travel as part of this grant.

“The students had to be between the ages of 18 and 30 because we are focusing on young adults,” Fryar said. “We wanted people that were graduate students that already had a university degree and had some background in studying water resources. We wanted a gender balance, and the students needed to be reasonably fluent in English.”

James Ward, an assistant professor of geology at ASU, recognizes the strengths and shortcomings of the incoming students.

“These students are very theoretical and sharp, most of them are going for their Ph.D. in ground water and geology,” Ward said. “But they have not had proper training and applied skills in the field.”

One of the goals of this grant is to supply the visiting students with field experience.

“What we are going to do is various tests and applied skills in the field,” Ward said. “We are going to do water infiltration tests, water budgeting techniques and many other applied hydrology exercises.”

ASU is working closely with the University of Kentucky, where Ward earned his Ph.D., and the University of Georgia. The students will spend part of their time in Georgia.

“ASU became involved in the grant through my Ph.D. project at the University of Kentucky,” Ward said. “My adviser started doing some work in Morocco, and we hosted several Moroccan students. The University of Georgia has done some work in those parts of Africa.”

The grant gives ASU national and international exposure.

“It is very good for our university,” Ward said. “We have been put in an international spotlight, and it is really good to have ASU land something like this.”

The grant comes from the U.S. State Department through the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.

The Upper Colorado River Authority also has a role.

“We have been working with them quite a bit on some programs related to hydrology with the geosciences department,” said Christy Youker, education director at UCRA. “We are partners with them on several grants; one is a natural science foundation grant that is aimed at teachers and education programs.”

The UCRA partners with ASU to provide other grants to the geosciences involving water quality in the city.

“All of the grants we have are very much about education and looking at things from a holistic approach,” Youker said.

Ward said there are many people who have made this grant successful.

“The local community has helped us tremendously,” Ward said. “The college of agriculture and Dr. Cody Scott and Mike Salisbury has helped me find wells to work, the Angelo chamber of commerce has organized a welcome for the students when they get here, and there are so many people that have pitched in and helped out.”


Posted on June 12, 2012, in Morocco News and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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