Seven U.S. military engineers from Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, Camp Lemonnier’s Public Works Department, and the 712th Engineer Support Company toured the University of Djibouti’s Faculty of Engineering, Feb. 9, 2022.
The team met with engineering faculty, including Adoulkader Ibrahim Idriss, the dean of the engineering school. During the tour, they discussed their educational and working experiences while also learning about the school curriculum and facilities.
"Camp Lemonnier and CJTF-HOA have been guests of Djibouti for nearly 20 years, maintaining a strong friendship throughout that time," said U.S. Army Maj. Luke Ritz, force engineer with the CJTF-HAO. "We enjoyed our recent visit with faculty and students of the University of Djibouti's engineering department; it was a great time to share experiences on professional interests we have in common."
Conversations between the faculty and engineers included technical topics of materials research, climatology and branches of engineering, and opened the door for future discussions and knowledge exchanges. They also explained similarities and differences between educational experiences in the U.S. and Djibouti including how both focus on generalized engineering knowledge and become more technical and specific with the completion of advanced degrees.
The School of Engineering tour included demonstrations in the digital fabrication laboratory (FABLAB) an innovation and creative space built for problem-solvers and critical thinkers. Their lab, the only one in Djibouti, is part of a greater community of 1,300 locations around the world. It contains 3D printers, a shopbot, two robots and other machinery designed for prototyping.
The engineers also toured labs for hydraulics, machinery and research, and the school’s new library, with a collection of 400 engineering volumes.
Finally, the U.S. military engineers met with 16 students currently enrolled in the engineering program. The interactive dialogue had students asking the U.S. service members about their educational experiences, career paths, favorite projects and software and more, while the students expressed their interest in engineering studies and future dream jobs.
The university is accredited through Europe and taught in English, including an extensive English preparation program that encompasses the entire first year of their education. A common language allows for easy collaboration between the faculty, students and the military engineers.
In addition to building a relationship and opening opportunities for future engagements between CJTF-HOA, Camp Lemonnier and 712th ESC engineers and the University of Djibouti, the exchange also further progressed the professional relationship between the U.S. Embassy-Djibouti and the university. The embassy is also connecting experts with the university to provide support as requested by the faculty.
According to the faculty, after graduation the engineering students work based on local and regional demands, building infrastructure both in their home country and throughout Ethiopia and Kenya. These engineers will be future problem-solvers across the continent, bringing African-led solutions to engineering problems throughout East Africa.