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Celebrating Joseph Alex Musa: A Trailblazer in Engineering and Humanitarian Service

6 March 2024 at 21:21 | 3077 views

By Felix Foday Sesay, USA

In the world of engineering and humanitarian efforts, few stories are as compelling and inspirational as that of Joseph Alex Musa. His journey from Sierra Leone to the prestigious halls of Howard University, and beyond, paints a picture of relentless dedication, remarkable intellect, and a deep-seated commitment to making a tangible difference in the world. Joseph Alex Musa, a Sierra Leonean national, has carved a niche for himself in the engineering field, marked by a series of remarkable achievements and a career dedicated to service. His academic journey is nothing short of extraordinary, having completed his Masters Degree in Engineering at Howard University within a record time of less than 18 months. This rare academic feat, last witnessed two decades ago, earned him high praise from Professor Robert Efimba of the Civil Engineering Department at Howard University, who did not hesitate to nominate Musa for a prestigious award in recognition of his outstanding performance. Sitting next to me at the Luncheon during the award ceremony, MIT Alumni, Professor Efimba, whispered: I am not done yet, there are more awards to come for Mr. Musa.

Musa’s journey began at Fourah Bay College (FBC), where he graduated in 1989, with a degree in civil engineering. His thirst for knowledge and commitment to improving water resources led him to Germany, where, after mastering the language in just six months, he pursued a Masters degree in Water Resources Engineering between 1991 and 1993. Upon his return to Sierra Leone, Musa served as the Regional Engineer for the Southern Province, overseeing water activities and coordinating the efforts of NGOs and agencies involved in the water sector. The
turn of the millennium saw Musa relocating to the United States, but his passion for
humanitarian work steered him toward the Great Lakes of Africa. There, he worked with renowned NGOs such as Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, and Rwanda from 2002 to 2006. Musa’s ability to learn French in less than six months was instrumental in his successful implementation of a Waste Management Project at the largest hospital in Uvira, Southern Kivu.

The hospital had lacked a waste management facility prior to his arrival, highlighting the impact of his work.

Perhaps most notable is Musa’s moniker, "Dieu d’Eau", a nickname he
earned after providing water to a hospital in Burundi that had been without a supply for eight years. His ability to solve this water crisis, where other experts had failed, underscores his exceptional skill and dedication to improving the lives of those in need. In the past 15 years, Musa has continued to apply his expertise as an Environmental Engineer at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, focusing on air emissions activities. His exemplary work record and significant contributions to the field were recognized when he was among the federal
employees awarded for their service, standing out in a ceremony that underscored his exceptional achievements and dedication.

Throughout his academic and professional journey, Musa has also dedicated time to
inspire the next generation of engineers. Serving occasionally as a guest speaker at Howard University, he shares his professional experiences with undergraduate and graduate engineering students, encouraging them to pursue careers as Professional Engineers. Musa’s story is a testament to the power of dedication, intellect, and the pursuit of excellence. From the Ministry of Energy and Water Supply Division, now Ministry of Water Resources and Germany, to the challenging environments of the Great Lakes region in Africa, and finally to the esteemed corridors of the NIH in the United States, Joseph Alex Musa has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to making a difference through engineering and humanitarian service. His life and
work serve as an inspiration to many, embodying the true essence of a scholar-practitioner who has significantly contributed to the fields of engineering and public health. Earning this prestigious Federal Employee Engineer of the Year Award at a globally acclaimed NIH, is a testament to Mr. Musa’s dedication in the field of Engineering.

As one Sierra Leonean Professor in the State of Indiana puts it: "Hi Felix...congrats to this Sierra Leoneans employee His work record must have been EXEMPLARY, to be recognized in the sea of white faces in the NIH!

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