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Ghana Salt Industry Study is a way for ODU Doctoral Engineering Student to Help his Homeland

Yaw Mensah has been working most of his professional life as a chemical engineer in the United States.

But Mensah, a doctoral student at Old Dominion University's Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology (BCET), has always maintained a close connection to his native Ghana.

So he has found a way to use the skills he has learned in BCET's Department of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering (ESME) to study the salt industry in Ghana from a system-of-systems engineering (SOSE) and risk management perspective.

Common salt plays a critical role in the daily lives of Ghanans. Moreover, the country's rich potential to produce consumer- and industry-grade salt may play a critical role in Ghana's development. Salt production can support other industries, such as oil refining, medicine and chemical industries in Ghana and throughout West Africa.

However, many enterprises need to be in place, and working effectively together, to harness this potential. This is where system-of-systems engineering comes in.

"SOSE provides a perspective that enables these apparent complexities to be contextualized. In essence, it helps demystify this complex problem and paves the way for analysis," said Ariel Pinto, an assistant professor of EMSE at ODU, and Mensah's adviser.

Mensah hopes to use SOSE to identify and describe the relationship among these needed enterprises. The research is very personal to him.

"Yaw Mensah, even though he has spent many years of his professional life here in the U.S. as a chemical engineer, has always tried to give back and preserve his ties with Ghana," Pinto said.

"I think now he has found a way to give back and better strengthen his ties via the convergence among his professional expertise, his love for Ghana and his pursuit of higher learning - truly an endeavor from the heart."

Mensah is currently in Ghana attempting to verify and validate, firsthand, much of his analysis, and to gain new insights. Pinto said the further a researcher gets into a project such as this, the more additional research avenues are discovered.

Mensah recently presented some of his findings to ODU audiences through the Emergent Risk Initiative Colloquium Series.

Later this year, he intends to publish and present his work to a wider audience of engineering managers, systems engineers, public planners and policymakers, both in Ghana and the United States.

This article was posted on: February 11, 2010

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