Five former Palauan students nicknamed GPS (Great Palauan Students) who trained at North Carolina University under the KnowledgeWell Student Initiative from 2012 to 2013 are the only (SUE) Subsurface Utility Engineering professionals between Japan and Hawaii today.
The five Courtney Higa, Vance Rideb, Suzan Rideb, Worthy Basilius, and the late Kenneth Ngirngemeusch, joined another Palauan engineer Perry from the same program saved Guam $6.25 million in the first year of their new careers. Their first project was worth $1.25 million.
“The ROI for SUE in the US mainland is $5 for every dollar spent but this is much higher in Guam where everything costs more. Do the math”, stated Aaron Smith, Senior Consultant for KnowledgeWell.
“ We called our initiative the ”Impact Compact” as these incredible Palauan professionals delivered quantifiable value and improved the quality of life for all living on Guam. This significant work was due to KnowledgeWell volunteers investing 3 years pushing for the grant to fund the program and working with four governments (US, NC, GU and Palau) to align expectations. Once that work was done, we were able to create the program here and deliver new hope and new life changing opportunities to the students while minting needed experts for Guam and Palau,” added Mr. Smith.
At the moment, there are no SUE projects in Guam and the four of the students have moved on to successful careers while one had an untimely passed away.
This year, another Palauan student from Palau High School have been selected for the program over other candidates from other FAS countries. ‘We don’t want to reveal his name yet. After he arrives and get enrolled, we will do a full press release. He is a solid candidate and we are excited to welcome him,” advised Aaron Smith.
According to Mr. Smith, while there is no mandate on what he will sign up for in the apprenticeship and mentoring program, the candidate from Palau has expressed interest in engineering.