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ON CAMPUS: UND prof advocates for infrastructure support

One UND professor is part of a group trying to make sure tragedies like the water contamination in Flint, Mich., or 2005 levee failure after Hurricane Katrina don't continue happening.

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One UND professor is part of a group trying to make sure tragedies like the water contamination in Flint, Mich., or 2005 levee failure after Hurricane Katrina don't continue happening.

Daba Gedafa, an assistant professor of civil engineering and vice president of the North Dakota chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers, visited with Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and staff of Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., at a conference in mid-March about the need to fund infrastructure improvements across the nation.

"The main objective is to urge members of Congress to increase funding for infrastructure," Gedafa said.

The ASCE gave the United States a D+ grade for infrastructure in a 2013 study that looked at 16 categories including energy, transportation, waste, drinking water and schools. The group found the nation is in need of $3.6 trillion to address the problems by 2020.

Gedafa said it's more cost-effective to invest early in infrastructure because once bridges, dams and roadways break they're more costly to fix.

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"We are not lobbyists," he said. "As professionals we are asking for more funding because one of the main duties of civil engineers is to make sure the public is safe."

While the ASCE didn't give North Dakota its own grade because of its smaller population and ASCE chapter size, Gedafa said he hopes to take a thorough look at the state.

"Safety is paramount in our profession," he said.

Murali Vegi, a Fargo civil engineer and president-elect of the North Dakota ASCE, also spoke with delegates at the conference.

Other news

• The UND Alumni Association and Foundation will host the annual Women for Philanthropy luncheon at 11 a.m. April 13 in the Grandsberg Community room, Gorecki Alumni Center. UND first lady Nancy Schafer will be the keynote speaker. Visit UNDalumni.org/WFP for more information or to purchase tickets.

• The Minnesota Chapter of the Soil and Water Conservation Society awarded Michael McMahon, senior at University of Minnesota-Crookston, the Student Conservationist award. The selection criteria for the Student Conservationist award are scholastic achievement, demonstrated leadership, and showing significant promise as a future conservation professional.

 

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Share higher education news at news@gfherald.com ; include "Higher ed notebook" in the subject heading. To see more news, see links at GrandForksHerald.com. Staff writer Katie Snell contributed to this article.

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