West Virginia University at Parkersburg
WVU Parkersburg classroom project impacts a country's survival a continent away.
CONTACT: Doug Weaver, assistant professor of computer science, 304-424-8330
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
A computer science professor at West Virginia University at Parkersburg returns to Chad, Africa in June to complete an international humanitarian project involving his students a continent away.
Doug Weaver, assistant professor of computer science and coordinator of the college's computer and information technology program, is returning to Chad as part of a United Nations project. He is responsible for setting up a computer network for the UN's demining operation there. Weaver of Cottageville is a tech sergeant in the U.S. Air Force Reserves.
"The first trip to Chad in March consisted of completing a preliminary site survey as well as conducting some computer classes for the demining headquarters' personnel," Weaver said.
His WVU-P Cisco networking students took his survey information and designed a computer network linking the remote UN demining headquarters in Chad with the UN main office headquarters and the world UN headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
The demining projectinvolves mapping, marking and clearing minefields, and providing medical, rehabilitation and vocational services to mine victims.
On his return next month, Weaver will set up a computer network at the remote UN Demining HQ in N'Djamena, the capital of Chad.
"I presented my students' work to some of the Chad government officials in March and they were thoroughly impressed with our students' professionalism, interest and involvement in their country," Weaver noted. "They expressed their gratitude many times for the effort of our students."
"The problem is that many of Chad's refugees are being killed or maimed by existing land mines and unexploded ordinances left over from previous wars and rebel activity in eastern Chad," he explained. "The efficient operation of the UN Demining HQ is of utmost concern so that field personnel will have accurate documentation of mine field locations."
Weaver's students designed the UN computer network to provide reliable data communication and means of collection which will be superimposed over satellite imagery to better document mine fields. As a result, field personnel dealing with the mass refugee problem will be able to mark the perimeters of the fields, he noted.
For the June deployment, Weaver will be joined by Pat Chard, 130th Air Lift Wing communications flight commander in Charleston and a WVU-P adjunct professor, to assist in setting up the network that Weaver's students designed. Computers, servers, wireless equipment and wiring are being shipped to Chad for the mission. Chard will lead the network installation team and Weaver will conduct computer/network training for the Demining HQ personnel as well as help Chard. Both speak French which is Chad's national language.
"I can tell you that the Chad government and Swiss UN officials are grateful for what WVU-P is doing from the classroom in Parkersburg to sending two of their professors to work in their country," Weaver said.
Weaver and Chard are participating in the project as members of the WV Air National Guard, deployed by EUCOM (US Military European Command), supporting the UN Demining operation in central Africa and working with local Chadians employed by the HCND (High Commission of National Demining).
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