TSU Contributes to Making the World a Safer Place
As the war in Iraq continues, one of the most daunting tasks for military personnel and independent contractors alike is re-engineering Iraq—facilitating the type of infrastructure, security, and technology necessary for it to become an independent nation. Tri-State University’s strong legacy in
engineering has been utilized in Iraq with engineering students, alumni, and faculty focusing their attention on rebuilding a nation and making the world a safer place. From taking technology to the troops to engineering logistical facilities and databases, TSU is making its own contribution to our freedom and the freedom of the people of Iraq.
Professor Ken Meeks couldn’t have guessed the impact of his duties today when he served the United States Navy some 20 years ago. However, his contributions to the U.S. military on the island of Diego Garcia have had a major impact on the war in Iraq. Diego Garcia, a tiny horseshoe island located in the Indian Ocean, was developed into a logistical
nucleus for the U.S. in the mid 1980s. Meeks’ position as a captain in the Navy Civil Engineer Core was to oversee all the construction on an island that started out as a coconutfarm and ended up being the central hub ofintelligence for military forces in the area. Bruce Pierce, CE ’71, was also stationed on the island with Meeks as a lieutenant commander in the NCEC. He, like Meeks, was involved with public works on the island.
“There was a void in communication in that area of the world,” noted Meeks. “The facility was constructed for communication between the military, but also communication through space satellite. We used to joke that when we were done if a golf ball dropped, you could hear it.”
The contract to transform Diego Garcia was awarded at $500 million, resulting in a state-of-the-art base that is still vital today. The base is now used for all logis-tical support to Iraq, which means all parts, materials, supplies, and food come from the island for the troops and military personnel in the area. In addition, all the B-52 bombers are flown in from the island. According to Meeks, the runways at Diego Garcia are constructed to accommodate any military aircraft and are located to reach any “hot spot” in that part of the world.
Meeks, who has been at Tri-State University for nine years and chairs the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, is no stranger to the complexities of war. A Vietnam veteran, he spent nine months in Vietnam trying to construct roads to the sea. He noted that the war in Iraq, like Vietnam, has suffered both setbacks and successes.
“The infrastructure improvements have been paramount in fostering progress,”he added. “However, one of the greatest challenges is achieving some type of peace. I don’t know if there will ever be peace in that part of the world.”
Similar to Meeks’ position in Diego Garcia, Dennis Plockmeyer, CE ’71, was in charge of finding a way to organize all the reconstruction in Iraq—which included nearly 4,000 projects at any given time in a space twice the size of Indiana.
Plockmeyer, who was the director of IT for the Coalition Provisional Authority’s Program Management, has built, with a team of highly-trained IT personnel, a system that organizes all the reconstruction effort, whether it’s the electrical, sanitation, healthcare, or communication systems,in English, Arabic, and Kurdish. The system manages bids from 63 different countries and yet is simple enough for a layperson to use. Using an Oracle Database as the central software, the system includes financial management, asset management, and project management for construction applications.
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