Alumni Role in a Globalized World

Communication technology and currently the internet brought home the concept of global village to a reality. It allows us to carry on business, for profit, for crookedness or for generosity sitting at our home. Brain drain from developing to developed countries no longer means deprivation of developing countries. We ourselves are in a way master of our choice for offering services.

While sitting at the comfort and security of our home in the developed world, we can run businesses in the developing world bringing benefit to ourselves, to the country we chose, to the country we came from as well as the world beyond by promoting business and trade across national boundaries. In doing so, we can utilize our own expertise; we can also add expertise of the developed world readily accessible to us, creating great opportunities for the developing countries.

In the article here, I shall focus on some of the voluntary activities I have been involved with utilizing the duality of my position between Bangladesh and Canada. There will be a special reference to the role of chemical engineering alumni. I shall try to narrate it as a personal story. A story may be easier to attract the readers than a dry presentation of activities.

Working for Schools in Bangladesh

In 1994, I was inspired to take up some work on the improvement of secondary education in Bangladesh and formed a voluntary organization, Alliance for Progress Worldwide (APW). The organization moved with some rough times, but was eventually resurrected in 2003 and started functioning well and in 2007 got approved by the federal revenue department of the Government of Canada. Over the years, we worked with twenty three schools affecting the education and life opportunities of over twelve thousand students.

From the very beginning, we used internet as our medium of communication and the schools were chosen by the residents of Calgary who had links with their schools. So the seed was sown as early as 1994 to link the developed and the developing world in work of generosity taking advantage of the communication technology. To know more about this program, you may visit the website: www.apwcanada.org.

Internet communication recently brought me in contact with an organization in USA that has objectives similar to APW. In the process, they asked me to take over their Bangladesh operation. You may find out more about this organization from its web site: www.vabonline.org.

Working for the Department of Chemical Engineering

In 2005, I suggested an idea to a small group of alumni to launch a campaign to raise US$100,000.00 from alumni abroad. After a year of consultation between the department and the group of 25-30 alumni, it was decided that a continuing program of assistance should be undertaken. For this purpose, the informal group was brought under an organizational frame work: BUET CHEMICAL ENGINEERING FORUM (BCEF). The group started functioning in 2006 with a document illustrating specific objectives and outcome and was officially installed in December 2007 at an opening chaired by the Vice Chancellor, BUET at the department of Chemical Engineering lawn.

Under the BCEF program, a lecture room has been upgraded with multimedia facilities, a laboratory experimental rig has been designed and setup, the process control laboratory has been upgraded and a research program on diagnosis of plant wide oscillations have been completed. BCEF worked with Chemical BUET for a student design project poster com-petition in 2008 and thesis project presentation in 2009. An afternoon reunion program with alumni visiting from abroad is being organized with BCEF initiative and funding. BCEF also supports the department by providing small amount of funds to purchase essential research related materials.

Three programs are ongoing with the department: Research project, M. Sc. promotion project and renting process engineering software for undergraduate design projects.

Working for the Chemical Engineering Profession

BCEF initiated the idea of the formation of an Industrial Consulting Company to promote consulting services by the department faculties and professional engineers. This should have a seminal influence on providing chemical engineering expertise for the benefit of the country. At the request of BCEF, Chemical Engineering Alumni Association (ChEAA) has taken up the task on a priority basis. We expect input of professional expertise from BCEF members in this venture will make it a world quality enterprise.

Integrate Education and Practice

ChEAA is going to institute a chair honouring the founder of the chemical engineering department at BUET, Professor M. A. Naser. Leading academics and industry engineers will hold the chair for limited terms and will align the education with the requirements of the profession. BCEF on its own may institute a chair to invite to Bangladesh professionals and academics from amongst alumni abroad to work for the promotion of teaching, research and consulting in Bangladesh.

Marching Forward

The volume of non-resident professionals abroad is reaching a critical mass whereupon natural payback will start happening (as it has been happening for India for over a decade). For Bangladesh, we can be the first in the process and we can catalyze the process. This will be very much in line with what the chemical engineering department and the chemical engineering alumni have been doing all the time. We had been leaders in most of the innovative programs at BUET such as department library, continuing education for practicing engineers, external funding for research, industry sponsored contract research, and faculty exchange program, research program and split graduate program with external universities, etc. Chemical Engineering Alumni Association was formed over twenty years ago to work for the benefit of its members and the department of chemical engineering.

BUET Chemical Engineering Forum was set up by the non-resident chemical engineering alumni with programs that will have a far reaching impact on the quality of education and research at BUET and the profession of chemical engineering in Bangladesh.

Chemical BUET initiated a Yahoo group since 2002 to link up the alumni and the students. BCEF opened a Yahoo group for professional exchange between alumni abroad and alumni in Bangladesh.

Let us proceed with some zeal, determination and persistence. Let us have our aim high to make BUET Chemical Engineering a top department in education, re-search and innovation.

The information age provides an opportunity to do this even while residing abroad. Let us take full advantage of new technologies to achieve our goals. Let us resolve that we as alumni will make it happen. We shall put our thoughts, our time, effort and money to achieve our goals.
 

 

To cite this article, please use following information:

(use the given format or any standard citation format)

Zaman, J., Alumni Role in a Globalized World, ChE Thoughts 1 (1), 17-19, 2010.

 

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