Sundt Project Manager Helps Build a Dome, and a Community, in Africa

 |  Community Involvement, Sundt People


U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Shane Banks, 257th Engineer Team well drilling non-commissioned officer in charge, works on the window mounts for the eco-dome here May 23. The ecodome is intended to serve as a central point in the community and is slated for use as a school or clinic. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Caya)

Shane Banks, a Sundt project manager based in Phoenix, Ariz., is used to working long days in extreme heat. But those conditions now seem mild by comparison to what he’s been doing in Djibouti as part of the U.S. military’s Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) program. Shane is a U.S. Army Sergeant First Class on temporary leave from his job at Sundt while he participates in the CJTF-HOA’s effort to help the residents of Karabti San, a remote village in the country’s Tadjourah region, construct an “eco dome” that will serve a number of community functions.

The recently completed dome was built of local materials – primarily cement and dirt – which was mixed and placed in burlap bags that were then stacked on top of one another in a spiraling pattern. The completed, 600 square-foot structure stands more than 20 feet high and is finished with an exterior layer of stucco. It will likely house a school on the bottom floor and a temporary medical clinic above.

“Probably the most interesting aspect of the project was the heavy reliance upon local, readily available materials,” Shane said via email from Djibouti. “We hauled in the polyethylene woven bag material and cement, but the bulk of the material was the soil (silt, sand and small gravel) we got from the area during construction. The thick, soil-cement walls have some pretty effective insulating properties in a very hot environment, so it will be a fairly cool structure.”

Shane will return home to his family and job at Sundt this fall, where he looks forward to the relative “cool” of Phoenix and the time to reflect on his experience abroad.

“We ended up really enjoying the working atmosphere with the Civil Affairs team (the lead on the project) and the villagers in spite of the brutal working conditions (manual labor plus extreme heat and relatively high humidity – compared to Arizona). This was due to the great people that we were working with (U.S. military and local nationals) and seeing the tangible results of our work. The people in this village were very welcoming; the children seemed to be especially enamored with us. In all respects it was a very rewarding experience.”

Hats off to you, Shane. Thanks for sharing your building expertise and goodwill abroad. We’re looking forward to having you back at Sundt!