UAF sets up engineering school in Mongolia

FAIRBANKS (AP) — Seven professors from the University of Alaska Fairbanks are helping establish an engineering school at the new American University of Mongolia.

Professors are helping develop curriculum and designing classrooms at the new university, located in the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator, radio station KUAC reported.

The university signed a contract with American University this spring.

UAF Mining and Geological Engineering program chairman Rajive Ganguli, who is leading the project, said Alaska and Mongolia are similar when it comes to mining in the far north.

“Our cold climate engineering expertise is very relative to Mongolia, and they can benefit from it. And so we have academic agreements with Mongolia Institute of Science Technology and with Erdenet Mining Corporation,” he said.

There is no federal funding to help start the school, which is estimated to cost in the millions of dollars. Ganguli said most of that will come from private-sector mining companies in Mongolia.

“Mining has been booming in Mongolia for a few years,” Ganguli said. “Their economy is taking off. They’re one of the fastest growing economies in the world at about 17 percent. And so when you grow that fast, you need lots of good employees, especially in engineering given their investment in infrastructure and mines, et cetera.”

He added that helping start the new school is a very exciting prospect for the Alaska professors involved.

“It is wild to think you’re going to (create an) engineering school from scratch,” he said.

He said “the stuff we hate” about the education system, “we get to remedy.”

Ganguli added that his team will “review engineering education in some of the top universities — and we have our own ideas — and we’ll steal from the best.”