ASCE has learned of the passing of Benoit Joubert, an international leader in humanitarian development. He was 96.
Joubert was an ASCE member for many years, and came to the U.S. from his native France to serve through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
He entered the École Centrale des Arts et Manufactures in Paris in 1941. Two years later, in order to escape forced labor during World War II, he joined some coal miners excavating in deep pits in northern France, an unforgettable experience, before resuming his studies and graduating in 1946. Further schooling would take him to England and to MIT.
He was recruited by successive construction companies while he stoked his desire to work overseas. Soon he was spending six months in the mountains of Tehran, studying the feasibility of a projected dam to supply long-belated water to the city. In 1954 he moved his family to Turkey, where he headed construction of the large Gudu Dam.
As soon as Joubert had obtained an M.A. in business management and administration, he was sought by UNDP in New York, initiating a long and fruitful cooperation. Assignments followed in Pakistan, various African countries including Burkina Faso, and in Saudi Arabia, where he was project manager and team leader of several international consultants.
Meshing his own thrust with the changing needs of his fellow travelers – his family – Joubert went to East Africa and began tackling problems involving overpopulation and the reclamation of marshes. When it was time to see South America, he found himself investigating the hydrological resources of the Andes for a possible development of the poorer parts of Argentina.
Thereafter, Joubert was based in New York as project manager and consultant for various UNDP projects, among them the construction of a secondary roads network in the Sahel. He “tried” to retire at age 65, but it was only when he reached 80 that he began refusing new assignments. Though still in fine shape, it was time to enjoy his expanding family … and to discover traveling just for fun.