RALEIGH – Please don’t let all of the acronyms for honors, accomplishments and certifications behind his name fool you — the PhD, PE, CPM, MCP, MCSD, MCT, SAS.
Dr. Majed Al-Ghandour of Wake County is simply an expert in customer service for the N.C. Department of Transportation.
Yet he is also one of the best engineers in the country as determined by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
For all of his efforts to help 508 cities, towns and municipalities of North Carolina receive funding for state and municipal infrastructure, the Transportation and Development Institute of ASCE awarded Al-Ghandour with its highest honor.
He is the 2020 Government Civil Engineer of the Year.
“Majed’s help to the citizens of North Carolina is that he is a vital cog in delivering our transportation improvements,” said Van Argabright, NCDOT Director of Planning and Programming. “He and his team have developed online tools and webinars and conducted extensive outreach to ensure that all North Carolina municipalities are equipped with the necessary tools to get their money on time.”
The prestigious award recognizes a distinguished civil engineer employed in public service for significant engineering contributions as a practitioner in public service, according to ASCE.
“This award is for all of our NCDOT engineers,” Al-Ghandour said.
Al-Ghandour and his team provide the channel for cities and towns across the state receive the appropriate amount of funding to improve their streets and other transportation infrastructure by administering the GRANT system for the Powell Bill program.
“I love it because we are customer service — that’s what we do,” Al-Ghandour said. “By helping the towns, we help the citizens. It’s very important that they get every penny that they can to spend on their streets.”
He works with mayors, town clerks, city employees — a wide variety of people with an almost as wide variety of titles and positions — serve the citizens. He travels across the state (under normal circumstances) to meet with town representatives one-on-one, conduct online learning sessions, and answer his cell at odd hours to answer confusing questions.
“It’s a lot of paperwork, and sometimes it’s like teaching a class of young students who can’t find this or that piece of paper,” Al-Ghandour said. “Our job is to listen to the town and we are always streamlining the process to make it easy and fast for them.”
Al-Ghandour is also chairman of the T&DI Street & Highway Operations Committee, and a member of Transportation Research Board including participation on the Access Management Committee, Roundabouts, Taxation and Finance, Technology Transfer, and the Surrogate Measures of Safety subcommittee and sitting as a technical panel member on more than nine national NCHRP researches presenting NCDOT. In his career, he made more than 18 conference presentations, peer reviewed multiple engineering journals and conference proceedings, and published 36 peer-reviewed papers.
Those are another example of his service. And that seems to be a common thread in Al-Ghandour’s professional life. He is an Adjunct Professor at the N.C. State and Fayetteville State, teaches in class or online Engineering, MBA and Business Analytics classes and has instructed at additional colleges. He helps middle-school children too as a judge for the N.C. Future City Competitions every year.
All of this work provides Al-Ghandour with a lot of smiles — and a few headaches too — but none of his other service provides as much gratification as when he works the Special Olympics of North Carolina.
“They gave me a fancy title like Logistics Manager, but I just try to get water bottles here, ice there, make sure trash is in the right place, equipment is received and give every venue what it needs,” Al-Ghandour said. “It’s such a treat to see all of the special needs kids happy and smiling, and their families happy and smiling.”
The ASCE award made him smile too. But it’s not quite as rewarding to him as helping the citizens in North Carolina’s cities and towns.