Skip to main content

By John C. Cronin, Jr. PE
As many of you already know, NABIE past president and former director David Roebuck, PE departed from his Georgia consulting engineering practice some time ago to accept an important role as an engineer for the Department of Defense, working in a civilian capacity in Afghanistan.
The June issue of CE News carried comments from Dave in its Business Q and A column.  Dave discussed the complexity of trying to complete construction projects in an environment where logistics, security, and capacity all become unusually challenging.
Dave also discussed the problems inherent in dealing with bureaucracies.  While North American bureaucratic structures may be annoying and somewhat difficult to navigate, Dave indicates that the challenges involved with developing nations’ bureaucracies can be profound due to inefficiencies and educational limitations imbedded in the process.
Dave’s work in Afghanistan has him providing oversight support for infrastructure projects funded by the United States.  While Dave was briefly back in the country earlier this year I had a chance to discuss some of his work, and clearly the challenges are enormous.  Not only is the environment a high risk one from the personal standpoint, but the very work that he reviews often contains unusual practices and features not characteristically found in more advanced nations.
Having known Dave for many years, his decision to embark on a risky but crucial engineering role in a war torn country says much about the kind of person and engineer he is.   I know all of us in NABIE wish him well in this unique assignment on behalf of both the Afghan people and America, and anxiously await his safe return home.
Dave is the third person I personally have known who either has been to or is in Afghanistan.  The other two were military personnel and sadly one of those died in June, the victim of an IED.  Lt. Joe Theinert was from my home town, a young fellow I knew who graduated from the local high school and went on to Army ROTC in college.  Not long after getting his bachelor’s degree he was deployed to Afghanistan.  His death underscores the critical and dangerous nature of those who serve there in any role.  Let’s keep Dave in our thoughts during his assignment.
*This article had been posted in the Summer 2010 edition of The Examiner.