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Engineer Completes MBA While on Deployment

Afghanistan Engineer District North
Published Jan. 1, 2011
Paul Cravens is recognized for his effort by his coworkers. He was deployed to Afghanistan from Nov. 29, 2009 to Oct. 23, 2010.

Paul Cravens is recognized for his effort by his coworkers. He was deployed to Afghanistan from Nov. 29, 2009 to Oct. 23, 2010.

Electrical design engineer Paul L. Cravens, who joined the District in October after spending ten months in the Afghanistan Engineering District, drew upon personal experiences to complete his master’s of business administration degree while deployed.

He chronicled some of the unique difficulties of rebuilding the war-torn country in a research paper for a business ethics class offered by the University of New Mexico.

The paper, entitled “A Clash of Globalizations,” deals with the economy and ethics of terrorism in Afghanistan. Cravens argued in the paper that the country’s business structure has been demolished by three key developments – the Soviet invasion and occupation, the emergence of al-Qaida and the Taliban terrorist organizations and the expansion of the illegal drug trade.

Cravens detailed some of the violence the Corps of Engineers and its contractors have encountered while trying to rebuild the country’s infrastructure.

“I’ve been to several places and observed quite a few things, as far as the way we’re doing business and the way we’re interacting with the Afghan people,” he said.

He wrote about shootings, kidnappings and other tactics used by insurgent groups against construction workers to hinder U.S.-funded rebuilding efforts.

Former District Chief of Engineering Mark Hoague, who reviewed the paper, credited Cravens for looking beyond his immediate job responsibilities of reviewing hundreds of building designs and shop drawings to ensure electrical compliance with codes and contract specifications.

“There are a lot of challenges. I think he identified them all,” Hoague said. “I don’t think there are any easy solutions.”

Cravens wrote the 18-page document and took the final exam for his business ethics class during a two-week vacation in Seoul, South Korea. He initially tried to work on the paper after work hours in Kabul but only had limited success, he said. Corps of Engineers personnel in Afghanistan work seven days a week, leaving little free time for other activities.

Instead, Cravens spent the bulk of a two-week vacation at the Dragon Hill Lodge, a recreation center for U.S. armed forces at the Yongsan Army Installation, bent over his laptop, surrounded by books and other research materials. He finished the coursework in time to spend his final few days sightseeing in Seoul.

Cravens lives in Tijeras, N.M. and started the master’s degree program at the university in 2007. He received his degree on July 10, 2010. It is his third degree from the university. He also earned a master’s in electrical engineering in 2006, and a bachelor’s in electrical engineering in 2001. He took his PE license exam at the end of October and is waiting for the results.

The Corps of Engineers has approximately 34,000 civilians and soldiers delivering engineering services in more than 90 countries worldwide. It is the primary organization building army bases, police stations, roads, airstrips and other infrastructure projects in Afghanistan to increase the country’s stability and bolster its economy.