TTI Contributes to a Unique Public-Private Partnership
Good roads are vital to progress, especially in newly established and developing countries. After more than a decade of war and political unrest, Kosovo emerged as the world’s newest independent state in early 2008. But the country’s roadway infrastructure was severely deteriorated and in need of reconstruction.
To help with this, the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) recently conducted a five-week intensive Road Design Training at the University of Prishtina in Kosovo. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) sponsored the training, from February to April 2011 through the Kosovo Private Enterprise Program (KPEP), which is being implemented by Booz Allen Hamilton, a global strategy and technology consulting firm. Thirty-three participants from private road construction firms and the Kosovo Ministry of Transport, as well as graduate students and faculty from the university, attended.
The need for the training came from an assessment TTI conducted back in July 2010. “We worked with KPEP to look at engineering and construction company needs,” says TTI Research Scientist Rafael Aldrete, who serves as the USAID KPEP transportation advisor. The needs assessment identified the lack of official or widely used design standards and construction specifications for road infrastructure in Kosovo.
Engineers in Kosovo graduate with limited road design and supervisory experience, and this presents a critical shortcoming. According to Mark Wood of Booz Allen Hamilton, “The TTI course has been instrumental in bridging that gap — both technically, through the provision of an excellent series of courses designed to meet the needs of graduate engineers working in the field, as well as academically by stimulating the demand for the course among practitioners and the faculty.”
Course participants were engaged and positive. On request, the TTI instructors also discussed transportation project planning, use of intelligent transportation systems (ITS), design of hot-mix asphalt, design of reinforced concrete pavements and use of textured pavement materials for skid- resistance improvement.
The Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) certified the course, and participants successfully completing modules received an ITE completion certificate. This ITE certification has helped standardize the training and further stressed the importance and usefulness of following standard design and construction procedures for all projects.
To date, TTI and the University of Prishtina are in the process of signing a memorandum of agreement setting up a transportation graduate degree program. According to Dr. Naser Kabashi, dean of the faculty of Civil Engineering and Architecture at the University of Prishtina, the training course brought together participants with different levels of expertise who exchanged individual knowledge and best practices on common concerns.
“We hope to continue this sharing on a higher level through the graduate degree program, and some of our best students could continue their Ph.D. studies at Texas A&M University and work as graduate research assistants at TTI. Of course, we greatly appreciate TTI’s help in organizing the courses and helping the university develop new staffers,” says Kabashi.
Another training course with additional topics such as transportation planning and ITS is also planned for December 2011.