Dr. Thobias Sando, University of North Florida civil engineering professor, was recently awarded a fellowship by the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program, a scholar fellowship program for educational projects at African higher education institutions.
Fellowships match host universities with scholars of African origin to build partnerships between the universities as well as address and work to solve priority needs of the host’s country.
“Dr. Sando is one of the best educators and one of the most active researchers we have in the engineering program,” said Dr. Murat Tiryakioglu, UNF School of Engineering director. “His commitment to supporting students and helping them advance in their careers is extraordinary. I can’t think of anyone else who is more deserving of this award.”
Sando, a Southside resident originally from Tanzania, is one of 55 scholars born in Africa now living in the United States and Canada who were awarded fellowships to work a breadth of projects in 43 African higher education institutions, including Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. A total of 335 African Diaspora Fellowships have been awarded to scholars for African travel since the program’s inception.
“I want to use the skills I have gained through educational and professional opportunities that were presented to me in the U.S. and give back to the people of Tanzania,” he said.
With the fellowship, Sando is working in Tanzania, along with UNF graduate student Festo Mjogolo, conducting an intensive 12-week Infrastructure Management Research Clinic at the Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology, which involves the training and mentoring of graduate students. The initiative aims to lay a foundation of long-term international research collaboration between the two institutions.
Some projects by other fellowship recipients include controlling malaria, strengthening peace/conflict studies, archiving African indigenous knowledge and creating low-cost water treatment technologies, to name a few.
Sando received his civil engineering master’s degree and doctorate from Florida State University and a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. He currently serves as the UNF Society of Black Engineers student chapter advisor and as the UNF African Regional Council leader. His work has been published in countless peer-reviewed journals/publications and he serves on review boards for multiple transportation field journals.
In 2008, he was honored as the Engineering Faculty Member of the Year by the Florida Engineering Society as well as the Civil Engineering Professor of the Year by UNF’s School of Engineering. Last year, he received the Platinum Star award from the UNF Office of Sponsored Research Programs for accruing $1 million in sponsored research activities.
The Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program, now in its fifth year, is designed to develop long-term, mutually-beneficial collaborations between universities in Africa and the U.S. as well as Canada. It’s funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and managed by the Institute of International Education, in collaboration with the United States International University-Africa in Nairobi, Kenya.