I recently retired as the Planning Group Chief for the Bureau of Reclamation in Provo, Utah. As a retiree, I will be doing volunteer humanitarian work in Uganda, Ethiopia, Peru, and the Navajo Nation.
I have an undergraduate degree in history (from Brigham Young University) and graduate degrees in civil and environmental engineering (from Utah State University), plus minors is a variety of other subjects, including chemistry, economics, and french. Using this unique educational background, I write on diverse topics including: Mormonism, transhumanism, history of water development, Native American issues, organizational dynamics, and travel. I enjoy foreign adventures and have lived in, worked, and visited over 35 countries, spread out over 5 continents. Most of my writing efforts are centered around my two websites, www.waterhistory.org (which is currently under reconstruction) and this site www.rogerdhansen.wordpress.com.
My professional research interest was the modernization of water delivery systems (principally irrigation), i.e. retrofitting low-cost, solar-powered automation equipment onto existing measurement and control structures. I am also interested in the development of virtual river basins, and adding geoengineering features to watersheds and their avatars. I volunteer with several humanitarian groups (NGOs) including:
- Engineers Without Borders (I currently sit on the board of Great Salt Lake Professional Chapter),
- Seee Institute (or SEEEME),
- Interethnic Health Alliance,
- Kilate Community School (Scottish NGO operating near Kampala, Uganda),
- Navajo Santa, and
- Team Rubicon
My volunteer work takes me regularly to the Navajo Nation and eastern African. Now that my grandchildren are getting older, I hope to take each one on at least one foreign adventure. In June/July 2012, my granddaughter traveled with me to Uganda.
In July/August 2014, my grandson and I visited Peru and Ecuador. The trip was very educational. We visited Machu Picchu, the Amazon jungle, and the Galapagos Islands and did a bit of humanitarian work in Ecuador.
One of things I enjoy doing when traveling is constructing playground equipment at rural underfunded schools.
So far, my friends and I have installed approximately 40 swing sets in Uganda, Ethiopia, Cambodia, Peru, Ecuador, and the Navajo Nation. We’ve also installed elevated forts (with climbing walls), seesaws. volleyball equipment, and tether ball poles. We also distribute soccerballs, tetherballs, and volleyballs.
One of my jobs with the Federal government was Native American Affair coordinator for the Utah office. This has allowed me time to work with the Navajo residents living in southern Utah and northern Arizona. Many, because of their isolated location, live without indoor water and power. Our Provo office has been working to develop and install “green” technologies that provide Navajos with the amenities that the rest of us take for granted.
Resulting from my interest in technology, I joined the Mormon Transhumanist Association (MTA). I am, however, less excited about life extension (a transhumanist obsession) than I am about the possibilities of using technology to improve conditions in developing countries.
I’m currently working with a LDS Church Branch President in Masaka, Uganda. So far we have installed a small computer-training center in one of the church’s classrooms. The center is equipped with a high-speed Internet connection and 6 chromebook computers. We hope to expand the center to include some technical training (sewing, carpentry, hair, etc.)
I served a LDS procelyting mission in the mid-1960s in eastern Belgium and northeastern France. I loved living in western Europe, but was less thrilled about missionary work. Overall, it was a positive experience, but not in the way it should have been. I hope changes in the way missionary work is done are finally coming.
I write occasional op-ed pieces relating to technology, spiritual values (including religion), and futurism for the Salt Lake Trib and the transhumanist website www.IEET.org. I remain optimistic about the future of humanity and the Earth (I have to, I have 11 grandchildren), but I am frustrated with the lack of realistic participation from religious groups–including the LDS Church–in developing a coherent world view of humanity during this time of rapidly accelerating technology.
I would describe myself as an introverted agnostic Mormon with anarcho-transhumanist and environmental tendencies who worked for 35 years as a water engineer for the Federal government. But Mormonism and the agency I work for are very top-down organizations. Was this frustrating for, sure. But in my case, the situation has been more than workable. I continue to see a bright future for leaderless organizations.