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Iranian student already published author as student of Professor Neil Grigg

August 29, 2011

Neil Grigg started his long career at Colorado State University in 1967 as a graduate student in civil engineering. This month, the will publish his 12th book - "Water Finance: Public Responsibilities and Private Opportunities."

Masih Akhbari working with his advisor, Professor Neil GriggMasih Akhbari, Grigg's doctoral student, is trying to catch up.

In March, Akhbari published his first book on “Groundwater Hydrology,” which he started more than four years ago while serving in Iran’s military. He had just finished his master’s degree at one of the country’s top universities.

“I felt like I was getting farther and farther away from my academic area,” he said.

A second book in the works

Book co-authored by CSU doctoral student Masih AkhbariNow, in his fourth year as a doctoral student at Colorado State, he is already pondering the topic of his next book. Akhbari is noncommittal, but he’s thinking the book may be about software for civil engineers with more focus on hydrology.

Writing a textbook is a rare accomplishment for a graduate student, said Grigg, a widely respected international expert on water resources management and infrastructure management. Grigg currently serves the U.S. Supreme Court as River Master of the Pecos River.

“He’s going to go a long way,” Grigg said of Akhbari. “He’s a self-starter.”

Akhbari finished his master’s degrees at one of the top universities in Iran and got admitted to some U.S. graduate schools: Texas A&M, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Colorado State University, for a PhD program.

Without hesitation, his advisors told him to go to CSU where he is not only a star pupil in civil engineering, but also an asset to the CSU community. He is a community coordinator or resident advisor at International House and volunteers as a cultural mentor for the Office of International Programs for students just arriving from other countries. "I always take advantage of the opportunity to express my gratitude to all the people in the Office of International Programs," he said.

CSU among the best for water research

“The water group at CSU is one of the best in the U.S.,” Akhbari said. “I cannot have words to explain how honored I am to work with Dr. Grigg. Every meeting I have with him is five or 10 minutes that’s like having two hours – he’s so direct and concise. A short meeting with him gives me enough ideas to research for a month.”

Akhbari’s research focuses on conflicts that arise with water resources management. His dissertation is focused on the water conflict in the Bay-Delta region near San Francisco.  The big issue is conflict between northern and southern California over water use, Grigg said.  Akhbari is studying how to resolve conflicts that hold up the solution to the problems.

With the enormous challenges facing the nation’s infrastructure these days, Colorado State’s College of Engineering professors are training civil and environmental engineers that communication skills are just as important as technical skills, Grigg said.

Book authored by CSU Professor Neil GriggGrigg, other faculty teaching communication skills

“We keep trying to bring that into our curriculum,” he said. “We’re guided to do that by leaders in industry who are facing all of these big challenges, such as climate change. Civil engineers need to step up to the plate and not just be technical participants but leaders who can integrate solutions.”

Grigg’s newest book on water finance is focused on creating public/private partnerships within the water industry.

“We’ve got so many unmet infrastructure needs and water needs in the country,” Grigg said. “It’s hard to convince people to invest in these and the government’s having a hard time all the time. It looks like the action is going to shift to the private sector.”

A good example, Grigg said, is private contractors who are now bidding on the state’s project to improve congestion on the I-70 corridor. In Fort Collins, industry and government officials, including Wade Troxell, associate dean of engineering at CSU, have formed a water cluster to share information and collaborate on water-related projects.

“The water industry is a very diluted industry,” Grigg said. “It’s got a lot of small parts.”
 


Contact: Emily Wilmsen
E-mail: Emily.Wilmsen@colostate.edu
Phone: (970) 491-2336