In early April, 23 engineering students from Afghan universities graduated from a USAID-sponsored internship program on road construction and maintenance. The hands-on program allows students to participate in laboratory and field work, better preparing them for their future careers. Ninety-one students have graduated from the program since its inception in 2007, and construction firms now employ many of the program alumni.
The internship program provides instruction in materials testing and quality assurance. Students conduct tests on natural rock and soil found in road beds, and they evaluate the quality of asphalt used by contractors in road construction. It is important for engineers to understand how the environment affects different materials as well as the safety and durability of the road. Some roads, for example, must bear the weight of many trucks while other roads experience lighter traffic.
“When we came as trainees, we were so happy to work with the lab staff and supervisors,” said one of the graduates. “Now, we can do all of the physical testing of soils and materials, and we can go to the sites to do quality assurance.”