Collaboration with Herat University Strengthening Higher Education Project
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Collaboration with Herat University Strengthening Higher Education Project

SHEP Phase I Goals

Faculty Development

A key outcome of the first phase of this project is development for Herat University faculty. Of the 12 full-time engineering faculty, 11 have bachelor's degrees. A first step is to provide advanced degrees for the faculty.

Two senior faculty members from Herat University will shadow civil, mechanical, or electrical engineering faculty members at University of Hartford, one early in Phase I and one in the second year of Phase I. Activities to be completed in this one-month shadowing experience include:

  • Observe engineering classes, at all levels

  • Assist in teaching courses to develop pedagogical models and options

  • Develop courses for Herat University, with emphasis on distance learning for future shared projects with the University of Hartford

  • Observe, study, and practice administrative and management skills, including ongoing faculty and curriculum development and revision

  • Practice managing and completing assessment process

  • Practice academic advising.

Intensive Graduate Study

In Phase I, junior faculty members from Herat University will begin staggered enrollment in a master's degree program in civil engineering, which requires 30 credit hours, plus an intensive 8-week English language training through the University of Hartford's English Language Institute.

The master's program includes 15 credit hours of core courses, as well as 3 credit hours of mathematics, 3 of engineering management, 3 of independent study, and 6 of elective courses. The table below shows a typical plan of full-time study.

Intensive Graduate Study

SpringSummerFall
CE 501 Advanced Structural Design [3]CE 600 Independent Study [3 to 6] (or other elective)CE 500 Advanced Mechanics of Materials [3]
CE 530 Geotechnical Engineering II [3] EM 601 Engineering Project Management [3]
CE 507 Finite Element Analysis [3] CE 601 Structural Dynamics [3]
CE Elective [3] M 515 Methods of Applied Mathematics [3]

With full-time study, students can complete the program in 12 months. See the timetables section for more information about the Phase I timeline.

The rotation of faculty members ensures course and administrative coverage at Herat University while this project is in progress.

CURRICULUM REVISION

The second key outcome is for the partnership to facilitate curriculum revision and development at Herat University. Engineering and other faculty from the University of Hartford and University of Detroit are prepared to travel to Herat University in order to:

  • co-teach courses at Herat University

  • assist in curriculum revision

  • provide ongoing faculty enrichment

  • conduct research

  • help develop assessment process

  • provide refresher courses.

These activities will be accomplished through co-teaching courses as well as conducting seminars, workshops, and short courses. Some seminars or short courses can be made available to the public or to other departments at Herat University.

In addition, a technical writing component that provides instruction on engineering-focused writing will be developed, so that students and faculty have the tools to communicate effectively with other engineers as well as non-engineers. Intensive writing instruction, provided in two short summer courses (approximately four weeks) would:

  • Provide foundations of effective professional/technical writing

  • Develop and explore case studies applicable to local, regional, or national writing scenarios

  • Develop templates of key written formats and writing conventions

  • Develop curriculum and train-the-trainer materials regarding language enrichment, reading comprehension of technical materials, and writing assessment and evaluation.

JOINT DESIGN PROJECTS

To facilitate ongoing curriculum development as well as connections with the international academic community and ongoing collaboration, the partnership will develop and establish a joint senior design project. This project will involve seniors at both universities and be conducted via distance learning.

Through shared projects, students at both universities will be exposed to differing design philosophies, communication issues, and cultural diversity. Developing skills to negotiate philosophical differences, communication hurdles, and time differences will be a key part of this valuable experience.

This project will use the computer platform Afghans New Generation eLearning (ANGeL), developed at the University of Western Cape, South Africa, which will be moved to Kabul University. All online courses and distance learning activities will be handled through the ANGeL server and platforms.

INFRASTRUCTURE CAPACITY

Infrastructure development is being funded separately from this project. However, it is important to note the ongoing infrastructure needs that will allow this and other partnerships to success and continue forward.

Textbooks and Library

In consultation with Herat University faculty, a comprehensive textbook list will be prepared and submitted for purchase during year one of the project. International editions of textbooks-enough for each student to have his or her own copy-will be purchased and shipped to Herat University.

Of the approximately 1,000 books in the Herat University library, fewer than 200 are engineering related, and even these are out of date. When the new engineering building is completed, a digital library needs to be set up, so that faculty and students can access the most current engineering professional and academic literature.

Laboratories and equipment. Herat University currently has soil, asphalt, concrete and metals, surveying, hydraulic, and computer laboratories; however, they are housed in inadequate facilities and require significant updating and/or replacement.

Because laboratory and experiential work are essential elements of the revised curriculum, a dedicated space and functional, up-to-date equipment will be needed. The University of Hartford and Herat University are currently developing a detailed list of laboratory equipment and materials that will be required.

Computer Laboratory and IT Resources

Access to computer resources for both students and faculty are currently severely limited, with students getting only about 20 minutes per week of hands on time, clearly not enough to develop the computer-based skills required for 21st-century engineers. The current university-wide IT plan does not seem to include provisions for the engineering program.

At least one dedicated computer-interactive teaching lab, where students follow instructions in real time, is essential for effective instruction and learning. A computer lab needs 15-20 networked PCs with reliable access to the Internet, in a dedicated classroom space. If Herat University provides such space allotment, the University of Hartford team will help provide a design based on current pedagogical best practices as well as significant experience teaching in computer-based classrooms.

In addition, "smart" classrooms (with white board, PC for the instructor, and a projector) are considered the instructional norm and should be considered. An interactive white board linked to a PC can make student/faculty interaction even more effective.

Classroom Space

Current classrooms are overcrowded and inadequately furnished. Standard classroom facilities (desks and chairs, white board) as well as adequate supplies are necessary to create an optimal classroom environment. In future phases, specialized classroom space, for example, a drafting classroom, would also be needed.