Engineering faculty will design program at American University of Mongolia

July 9, 2013 • Filed under: News — anathayer

How many calculus classes should an engineering student complete? What should an engineering student know after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in mining engineering? How many students can an engineering school graduate each year? What should be taught in an electrical engineering lab?

These are exactly the questions Chair of the Mining and Geological Engineering Department Rajive Ganguli and a team of faculty with the College of Engineering and Mines are working to answer as they design an engineering college for the American University of Mongolia. “We will look at everything that is being tried and practiced in engineering programs, including our own” said Ganguli. “We will then bring it all together in a program which we can then implement at American University of Mongolia.”

The team will strive to create a competitive program that will utilize the diverse knowledge and interests of its members to teach students how to solve complex problems. “We want to explore organizing academic coursework and projects along problem based groups instead of discipline based groups. A problem doesn’t just walk up and say ‘I am an electrical engineering problem’. Most complex engineering problems require a combination of disciplines to solve,” concluded Ganguli.

Dr. Rajive Ganguli at the surface operations of the Oyu Tolgoi mine in South Gobi, Mongolia
Dr. Rajive Ganguli at the surface operations of the Oyu Tolgoi mine in South Gobi, Mongolia.
Photo credit: Staff of Oyu Tolgoi Project.

Ganguli was approached by American University of Mongolia to advise and contribute to the design and implementation of an engineering program. “A variety of potential employers expressed the need for an American university type graduate system in engineering,” Ganguli said. Ganguli and American University of Mongolia administrators met with potential investors and employers to identify what academic programs were needed to provide a competitive workforce. “Looking at the developments in Mongolia, I suggested that the college include mechanical, electrical, mining, geological, petroleum, civil, and electrical engineering branches,” explained Ganguli.

Ganguli has a history of working with people in academics and the mining and engineering industries in Mongolia. “In 2007, the President of Mongolia came to the UAF campus. I wanted to meet him as I had never met a head of state before and especially when I discovered he was interested and informed on mining,” explained Ganguli. “I told the University of Alaska President ‘You have to give me two minutes to speak with him.’ Well, I got my two minutes and I talked about mining.” This conversation ultimately connected Ganguli with companies and academics seeking to improve engineering education in Mongolia.

Ganguli and a team of UAF engineering faculty are in the midst of crafting the program logistics, from creating a curriculum and specifying lab and space requirements to acquiring the appropriate accreditation from organizations such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). “Our professors know what it takes to maintain and acquire accreditation, as many were ABET evaluators themselves,” said Ganguli. “On the team we have a wealth of information, with over 100 years of collective experience in the field.”

As the program takes shape, Ganguli believes this team has the knowledge to create a solid program for Mongolia, “I am confident in UAF as a university. We have a good mix of people with unique backgrounds in all areas of expertise.”

Members of the Project Team include:
Sukumar Bandopadhyay, PhD, PE, Professor of Mining Engineering
Gang Chen, PhD, PE, Professor of Mining Engineering
Abhijit Dandekar, PhD, Professor and Chairman, Petroleum Engineering
Joseph Hawkins, PhD, PE, Professor of Electrical Engineering
Scott Huang, PhD, Professor of Geological Engineering
Rorik Peterson, PhD, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Yuri Shur, PhD, Professor of Civil Engineering
Douglas Goering, PhD, Dean, College of Engineering and Mines (in advisory capacity)