This project supports a cooperative project by the Peter Smeallie, American Rock Mechanics Association Foundation, Alexandria, Virginia and Dr. Ezatullah Amed, Chancellor of the Kabul Polytechnic University in Kabul, Afghanistan. The objective of the project is to support US-Afghanistan Workshops on Research and Educational Activities in Geosciences and Geoengineering. Specifically, to have US scientists participate in the Second Hid Kush Conference in Kabul between September 27 and October 1, 2009. That meeting will cover a broad range of topics including: geology and geophysics, soil and rock mechanics, civil and mining engineering, hydrogeology, environmental protection and disaster management. Also to have Afghan scientists attend the 43rd US Rock Mechanics Symposium in Salt Lake City in June 2010, and finally to have a workshop in Kabul in the spring of 2011. Intellectual merit: The proposed partnership has a sound technical basis under the auspices of an established organization, the American Rock Mechanics Association (ARMA). ARMA is well poised to initiate and catalyze relationships between US and Afghan researchers. The development and verification of useful geomechanical models requires field-relevant data that reflects a wide spectrum of conditions. The partnership with Afghan universities will provide unique access to geological conditions and data that can provide vital ground truth to existing models as well as a basis for the development of new constitutive models which are more robust. The US personnel involved in this project have an excellent track record of fostering collaborations that advance the research agenda in rock mechanics while having an integrated impact on education. One of them, Dr. Bernard Amadei has co-authored two books and approximately 160 technical papers in rock mechanics and engineering geology. He is also the Founding President of Engineers Without Borders ? USA ( and co-founder of Engineers Without Borders-International ( These organizations have become key instruments to incorporate service learning into the curriculum in many colleges of engineering.

Broader impacts: There are very few professional academic relationships between the US and Afghanistan. Although this project focuses on establishing research connections within the field of geology and rock mechanics, it is anticipated that it may lead to similar partnerships in allied fields of science and engineering. For example, part of the support is targeted toward participation in the Second Hindu Kush Conference, to be held in Kabul, Afghanistan. In addition to rock mechanics and geology, this conference will include sessions devoted to forestry, environmental science and climate change. This project is funded jointly be the Division of Civil, Mechanical, Manufacturing Innovations and the Office of International Science and Engineering.

Project Report

Education and Research Partnership Between US and Afghan Universities in Geosciences and Geoengineering Activities between the U.S. and Afghanistan during the project follow: 1. U.S. faculty and researchers visited Kabul University and Kabul State University in October 2010 and delivered lectures to faculty and students. Prof. Khair presented a brief review of geotechnical topics associated with mining. Dr. Banks described relations among rock mechanics parameters and means of estimating parameter values for use in planning or feasibility stages of a project. In a subsequent lecture, Prof. Khair discussed rock mechanics subjects associated with surface mining. These subjects were: (a) reserve estimation; (b) stages of mining; (c) mechanical excavation; (d) specific topics of explosive engineering; (e) slope stability; and (f) equipment selection. Dr. Banks discussed a method of estimating the "Rock Mass Rating" from observation of slope angles. Prof. Khair discussed rock mechanic topics associated with underground mining. These topics were: (a) geologic effects on mining; (b) geophysical methods to identify anomalies; (c) estimation of in-situ stress; and (d) roof bolting. Dr. Banks discussed means of estimating in-situ rock mass properties from intact rock properties. Copies of the power point presentation were provided electronically to faculty and students. More than 50 faculty members and students were present and were eager participants during each session. Understanding of the above subjects will enable the engineers to assess, evaluate, develop, and economically extract mineral resources or, for civil/military works projects, to plan or evaluate the feasibility of projects. 2. Three Afghan scholars attended the 45th U.S. Rock Mechanics/ Geomechanics Symposium in San Francisco in June 2011. A technical session, "The Status of Rock Mechanics in Afghanistan: Needs and Challenges," was devoted to papers prepared by members of the Afghan delegation. The papers described the Afghanistan geologic setting, along with descriptions of oil/gas and mineral exploitation and transportation facilities. Discussion in the following panel meeting emphasized university classroom needs to be able to produce the trained body of engineers and technicians necessary to meet the technical challenges presently facing Afghanistan. The discussion also emphasized the need for involvement by foreign companies and organizations, as partners, to help bridge the technological gap that exists today. 3. U.S. faculty and consultant visited Kabul University and presented papers at the Third Hindu Kush Geoscience Conference. Prof. Khair presented a paper entitled, "Feasibility Analysis of the Cost of Electricity in Afghanistan," about a 1,500 megawatt (three 500 megawatt units) power plant. Dr. Banks presented a paper entitled, "Estimating Rock Mass Ratings (RMR) from Slope Angles of Natural Rock Outcrops." The conference was attended by approximately 75 engineers, scientists, and students. The conference program contained 24 abstracts with some 18 papers orally presented. Prof. Khair’s paper was followed by a lengthy discussion of his findings and resulted in significant after-conference action, discussed in Findings. Plans were discussed to make the proceedings of the conference available to interested individuals via electronic means. As a result of the conference, the following findings and action items were developed by the U.S./Afghanistan team: 1. Establishment of an Afghanistan Section of ARMA. The general feeling was that a Section of ARMA would enhance the prestige of those professionals who teach or practice rock mechanics/rock engineering in Afghanistan. However, a concern was expressed about the amount of dues required to join such a section (the salary of professors is extremely low). 2. Help with and attendance at an ARMA Regional Conference. Mr. Springer was made aware of ARMA’s desire to conduct a future conference in Dubai. Mr. Springer offered his help in making arrangements for such a conference, but downplayed any sizable participation by Afghans, again from a consideration of the cost to attend. 3. Direct university-to-university cooperation. The team investigated the possibility of direct cooperation (partnership) between U.S. universities and Afghanistan universities. Prof. Khair volunteered to initiate a cooperative effort between West Virginia University (WVU) and Kabul Polytechnic University (KPU) in the program areas of mining, petroleum and natural gas, and civil engineering. He pointed out that the cooperative effort would be greatly facilitated by involving WVU professors who are Afghan-American and Iranian-American and speak Farsi. Communications regarding a partnership between WVU and KPU are currently ongoing.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Office of International and Integrative Activities (IIA)
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Osman Shinaishin
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American Rock Mechanics Association Foundation
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