viva tehran

18 10 2007

[By Shideh]  We are back in Berkeley and are in the process of organizing our photos/videos from Iran.  We’ll post short summaries with observations from our trip over the next few weeks (as it’s going to be long… and there were plenty of interesting topics for discussion that came up).  First, today, a few short thoughts and impressions from Tehran:

daaneshkadeh fani tasvieh khoon tehran metro station at iiees

·         In many ways, Tehran had improved in terms of its infrastructure layout and city planning.

·         Tehran Metro was amazing (in its plan, functioning, looks, comfort, etc.)!

·         Pollution and traffic seemed to have reduced substantially after the gas limits were in effect.

·         The government has started a seismic risk reduction program, retrofitting the public buildings according to priorities. However, the most important obstacle remains to be the existing obstacles in the construction industry.  Government agencies are having a difficult time controlling what is actually being built (which is rarely the same as what is designed and approved for construction).  

·         Most academicians are frustrated about lack of budget, poor higher management and coordination among different institutions, unhealthy competition among peers, and lack of hope for improvement.  There are, however, many individuals who are making changes in different industries and the country seems to be open to young talents who want to improve the system (as long as they don’t clash with the old beliefs).  In general, it seems Iran is moving forward quickly (after suffering for so long during the war) and is trying to find its place in the international community.  There are many obstacles on the way, largely lack of cooperation and bad leadership and management in many areas.  We felt though, that the energy of the enthusiastic and fervent youth of the country is driving us forward.

·         I talked at 4 institutions during this trip (Shiraz University, Sharif University of Technology, IIEES, and Tehran University) about my doctoral research here in Berkeley.  During these visits, we had the opportunity to meet many amazing individuals who are working hard to overcome the problems on their way and succeed to contribute substantially to the world with their scientific findings and achievements.  Many of them face problems that we (outside of Iran) rarely have to deal with.  For example, Tehran University and IIEES have purchased a centrifuge from France for use in geotechnical engineering research.  The centrifuge itself arrived on time.  However, a new sanction during this purchase resulted in an incomplete trade where France never sent Iran even the manuals or technicians to complete its set up.  Therefore, the civil engineering students are working on their own to complete the set up and use the facility for research.  There are many such problems that students have to face which is disturbing to see.  These kinds of problems have limited their ability to actually focus on what they want to learn through their research projects.  They, however, are as energetic and enthusiastic as ever and are moving forward, despite the existing shortcomings and lack of budget.  DAMETOON GARM to all the students in Iran. 

… more to come!

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10 responses

18 10 2007
Hooman Hosseinpour

VERY WELLCOME BACK!!

Safar bekheir! I hope you are now ready to continue your great job. You cannot imagine how great my feeling is … I am so happy that students and researchers (like always) are working hard to increase their scientific achievements despite the fact that they are facing many obstacles.

DAME SHOMAA HAA HAM KHEILI GARM that you are sharing your travel experience and many other things with us. I am genuinely interested in hearing about your recent visit from our country and academics there …

18 10 2007
Shawhin

Some more immediate reflections:

•We saw what looked like a successful Bus Rapid Transit system throughout the downtown region. The busses had dedicated lanes; and through all hours carried heavy ridership.

•New highways had extensive and tasteful landscaping, which was really nice

•Tons of new mid to high-rise construction with dozens of active sites throughout the city. One interesting thing I noticed was the use of electronic counters to display the estimated remaining construction duration of projects. These displays were installed at a location with high-visibility. Apparently, the counters are linked to the construction management scheduling programs. Pretty cool.

•Among the dozens of new residential high rises in the northern neighborhoods, there were many very beautiful structures. In a sense it was sad to see so much development taking the place of the beautiful gardens and old mansions. On the other hand, the skyline in those neighborhoods is visually appealing (not to compare the relative importance of skyline against urban fabric). All the high-rise development had me thinking about how the antiquated road structure handles new traffic load.

•While there were plenty of tastefully designed structures going up, there were a good number of new buildings reflecting misplaced design values of the architect and essentially nasty and out of context objects, which effectively destroy the aesthetic appeal of entire neighborhoods. This was really sad. I wondered about a sort of architecture approval method/requirement/framework for all new buildings in and around the city. I wonder if there is anything in place; how effective it is; who sits on the board; how can the public comment on and steer aesthetic requirements. I personally place a lot of importance on the appearance of structures and their surroundings – how they fit in and interact with what’s there.
And while we’re on the topic – there are too many buildings with facades on only one face. What’s the deal with this?! The single façade practice should be banned!

•Most importantly – the fruitjuice-stand infrastructure was impeccable!

All in all the city was alive with excitement, progress, frustration, confusion, and just about anything else you can think of. It was a great experience! I wish I was there.

18 10 2007
koohestan11

welcome back! great photos.

19 10 2007
Ehsan

Hi
I sent some emails to Shideh and a sms to Shawhin and waited for an answer but sorrowfully I have not recieve any.
How are you?
How is every thing?
How was your trip to Iran overally?
I missed you really.
Take care
Ehsan

19 10 2007
Ehsan, It is me again!

Oh, I forgot to say that this is by far the greatest site which is prepared to discuss problems related of the Earthquake Eng. especially about Iran and Iranian cities.
So :
Thank you so much for your nice idea to make this great and really valuable website and I think your action is of crucial importance to draw attention of our policy makers and Iranian civil engineering professors

19 10 2007
Shideh

Dear Ehsan,
thanks so much for your comment and for the emails. We had a great time in Shiraz and Tehran. I apologize for not answering emails. We had limited access to internet while we were in Iran which was usually incredibly slow. Please do keep in touch, comment whenever you wish on TehranShake, and let us know if we can be of any help to you or other students at Shiraz University in the future.

20 10 2007
Ehsan Nikooee

Dear shideh
So many thanks
I wish you a happy life, nice research and excellent education wherever you are.
I think regarding your nice works on motivating Iranian students abroad, assisting students inside Iran and addressing earthquake engineering issues of Iran you have done a great work with uncountable nice side effects.
Take care
Ehsan

29 10 2007
Mohsen Ajdari(Phd student at Shiraz university)

Dear Shawhin and Shideh,
The old beliefs are not eventually the bad one. Sometimes the oldest one is the best. Most of youth believe in old beliefs here and it is a very good thing (perhaps you conform with me). We have our family, grandparents … yet, because of these old beliefs.
Looking forward to hearing from you and wishing you success in your studies.
Cheers,
Mohsen

31 10 2007
Shideh

Dear Mohsen,

Thank you so much for your comment. It’s great that you brought this discussion up. Can you explain a bit more about the type of beliefs that you are talking about? If you mean the beliefs regarding family values, old wisdom, and the respect for the elder as well as the family support system that has existed in our culture for a long time, I completely agree with you. I personally have a lot of respect for our traditional values and I believe many of the youth do as well (not all, sadly).

In this post where I mentioned that “the country is open to young talents who want to make a change as long as they don’t clash with the old beliefs,” I was not referring to traditional beliefs and the beauties in our culture, but was mostly referring to the old ways of thinking in the management level of many industries or the country as a whole which may not be as efficient as many wish (and mostly are far from efficient). The reason I mentioned this was that I found a few examples of successful young professionals who were progressing rapidly in their own fields (for example in the HIV prevention and research area) while they found their way around the old inefficient and wrong ways of thinking without clashing with them but parallel to them. This is a good example as the general old beliefs, in this area particularly, lead to disastrous results. So, even though, the youth may not necessarily agree with the old system in many industries, they can’t clash with the old system because that would be a waste of energy and nothing will get done (in my opinion). Instead, there are ways to go parallel to them and find ways not to contradict with what does not necessarily matter and get the work done.

I hope this was a clarification for what I meant by “old beliefs”. If you disagree with my observations, please let me know. I encourage others to jump in with their opinions as well. It’s great discussion.

3 11 2007
Mohsen

Dear Shideh,
Thanks alot for your attention to my comment and for your grear clarification.
I completely agree with you.
regards,
Mohsen

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