EIWR performs routine maintenance of rain gauge and weather stations and data downloading every six months. Staff regularly work to improve sites when the gauges need better protection. It is uncertain how EIWR will be able to maintain this site after funding from USAID has ended.
evapotranspiration (i.e. the amount of water needed) from an agricultural field. This can be used for (i) irrigation scheduling, and (2) quantifying how much water is needed for an acre of land. After training students and staff how to maintain and calibrate the equipment, a Ph.D. student installed the gas analyzer at the Wonji Sugar Factory. The farm is one of the first sugarcane state farms in Ethiopia. It is about seven thousand square kilometres, and is located in the upper Awash Basin which is one of basins with large scale irrigation. EIWR received permission to install the equipment at the farm and interested students can use this instrument to conduct their research work.
Students and Staff more Skilled at Using State-of the Art Research Equipment and Software
International faculty trained students and staff how to set-up, operate and maintain a wide variety of research equipment. Dr. Niles from University of Khartoum spent a week at EIWR teaching students and staff how to set up, run and maintain the gas analyzer. EIWR hopes to do collaborative work with Dr. NIles using this equipment in the future. Dr. Mekonnen Gebremichael from UCLA took groups of researchers and students to the field to learn how to use hydrology equipment. Seminars were provided on how to use GIS software and one student traveled to Tanzania to learn SAS statistical software.
Critical Water Resource Data Captured and used in Student Research – Data Matters
The UCONN/AAU Partnership significantly increased the number of educational resources available for data collection and research and the Institute’s capacity to utilize these resources. The overwhelming consensus from early workshops on program development was that resources should be invested in field data collection because of the gap in data for research on critical water related research questions. Consequently, the Partnership invested significantly in purchasing state-of the art research equipment and software for indoor and outdoor laboratories. Among others, the partnership deployed rain gauges, hydrology equipment, and an eddy covariance gas analyzer to collect data measurements used by multiple graduate students in their dissertation research. (See full description of equipment and research, research objectives, and locations of research sites.) EIWR does not currently have a suitable space for a water quality laboratory, however, AAU intends to build a facility over the next few years.
These new educational resources allowed for a transformation of the graduate research experience in the water resource area. Our students had to design field experiments, collect real data, and pursue approaches relevant for Ethiopian conditions. This is a paradigm-shift in Ethiopia, where most graduate students had to use “synthetic” or “existing data” to just play with models developed and tested outside of Ethiopia, just to get a degree. Research planning with international faculty participation was very effective, particularly during the first WREM program when a faculty team supported the generation of research topics.
Students Access to an Electronic Library for the first time: Another improvement in instructional resources included providing all students access to the electronic library at UCONN where they had access to the same large set of academic publications as UCONN students. For most students, this was the first time that they had easy access to large numbers of academic journals and publications.
Course Materials Documented for Future Use: The majority of courses for all four programs were taught by international faculty who developed syllabi and course materials for each class. Copies of all of these materials have been stored in a digital database for use by future students and teachers.
Project Outcome: Improved Advising and Counseling Capacity
Advising: International advisors, local advisors, and research coordinators who met with students during regular research planning seminars all helped to advise students. The research coordinators helped to ensure the scientific quality of student research and steady progress toward research goals. Students benefited from working with international advisors who used state of the art teaching methods, a range of teaching styles, and global and real life perspectives to lead discussions on research priorities and achieving results. Research planning with international faculty participation was very effective when it happened, and some students developed relationships with their international advisors which led to internships, lab research, joint research, and joint publications.
One of the challenges with advising was that students were located out at the Akaki campus rather than physically close to their advisors making frequent interactions more challenging. Another challenge was that local faculty did not always demonstrate a high level of commitment to EIWR students because they were not graduating from their own departments. Two structures were put in place to address these challenges. EIWR hired four research coordinators to supervise students at Akaki in research groups during weekly seminars. During these meetings, the coordinators helped keep students on target with planning their research by providing guidance and structure. They could advise students; problem solve, and address overarching issues with EIWR staff. The advisors provided some continuity and regular contact with students. The local university advisors benefited from interactions with international advisors focusing on common student’s work; having students with access to unique research resource (field data, access to electronic journals through UCONN’s library, highly specialized software such as IDL, Riverware, etc); and from having the opportunity to advise highly motivated Ph.D. students on water related topics.