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     Volume 2 Issue 50 | January 6 , 2008|


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BUET: 60 Years of Engineering Education

Kamrul Hasan Khan

During last several months in 2007, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) has been quite busy arranging numerous programmes. Apparently considered isolated from others, they literally opened up to all for a reason.

On July 28 last year, the Buet inaugurated a six-month long programme on the campus to celebrate 60 years, from 1947 to 2007, of engineering education in Bangladesh. They wrapped up their celebration on December 31. During the period Buet organised a good number of programmes, ranging from symposiums and seminars to exhibitions, cultural programmes and even sports.

But for sure the authorities did not want the enormous celebration to turn into a mere festivity; they wanted to take the opportunity to review the past of country's highest technical educational seat and focus on its future aim in the world of technology. They envisaged a Buet better prepared in its efforts to find a place among the world's best technical universities that efficiently contributes in proper development of the poverty-ridden motherland.

As the organisers said, the objectives of the celebration are: "To look at the evolution of engineering education in Bangladesh; to review the contribution of our graduates in nation building and development activities; to formulate a strategic vision to develop Buet as a global institute of excellence in engineering and technology."

It was the celebration to determine how to brave the 21st century challenges rather than having a mere gala celebration of touching a landmark. Since the opening ceremony of the celebration with the attendance of its former vice-chancellors, alumni, eminent citizens and students, Buet organised a number of seminars on various issues and exhibitions. (To read about the opening ceremony and other related articles, please read Star Campus August 12 Issue or log onto: www.thedailystar.net/campus.)

On the occasion of closing of the ceremony last week, fair on the campus premises, exhibitions at different departments, lab visits, sports, drama, national symposium, debates, film show and other cultural programmes were held.

On December 28, a fair of engineering products and equipment started on the premises that ended on December 31 with the participation of over 50 stalls. There were a number of stalls of electrical and electronic engineering, mechanical engineering, civil engineering and information technology.

Among the participating stalls were: Energy Park Engineering Ltd, CityCell Ltd, BRB Cables, Ivana Cables, Super Sine Industries, Sigma Pumps, Renata Industries Ltd, Rahim Afroz Batteries Ltd, PDB and German technical cooperation organisation GTZ.

Visitors were seen roaming around the fair with curiosity and inquiring about various projects and products.

Bangladesh-made robots - developed by the Mechanical Engineering Department of Buet, which participated in "Robocon 2007, Hanoi" competition last August were demonstrated at the fair.

The national symposium on engineering and technical education was held on December 29, which highlighted wide experiences in engineering education and provided opportunities for networking aimed at enhancing the quality and effectiveness of engineering education. It also aimed at encouraging the academia and industry to work in a more long-term, strategic way tonarrow the gap between academic knowledge and practice.

Former Chief Justice Muhammad Habibur Rahman, VC Prof AMM Safiullah, former VC Prof Abdul Matin Patwary, Convener of the celebration organising committee Prof Mazharul Hoque, deans of faculties, heads of departments, Buet alumni and academics were present.

The former justice said the government should take a crash programme to train up local people as skilled manpower for the proper utilisation of our natural resources to avoid foreign dependency. The country often falls victim to massive natural disasters, but no steps have been taken so far to protect lives and property.

Former VC Prof Iqbal Mahmud presented a keynote paper of the symposium. He said engineering education was recognised as a separate academic discipline about 200 years ago and since then engineers have been trying to shift their focus from a natural world to a man-made world. He said intellectual challenges for the undergraduates should be substantially equivalent to international standard. Humanities, arts, social sciences are must for creative engineers.

An extraordinary and really encouraging exhibition of native technologies was held at the Buet. These native technologies were developed by engineers, architects, city planners or entrepreneurs in the country perspective.

Seminars and exhibitions were organised on December 29 to 31 at different departments and laboratories, those were open to all. On December 28, students of the university participated in cricket and volley ball competition on the Buet ground. On the same day drama Pragoitihashik was staged. Film show and cultural programmes also marked the celebration's closing.

To face the challenges of 21st century, we have to provide education that helps develop innovative ideas.

Before ending up, we would like to remember Prof Wahiduddin Ahmed, the third VC of the Buet, who acted as VC during 1975 to 1983, also the oldest academic present at the opening ceremony in last July. Addressing the opening ceremony, he said Buet, which is an outcome of a long struggle, is a milestone in the higher education and research in the country. It has tremendous achievement record.

"But rather being proud of what we achieved during this 60 years, we should now look behind to find out what goals we could not achieve so that we achieve those in the future. Have we managed to provide our students with modern library, laboratory and equipment and other facilities?" He asked. At the same time he called upon the young graduates of the university to become good citizens besides being good engineers.

(Kamrul Hasan Khan is DU Correspondent, The Daily Star)

Three pioneers who contributed most to Buet

Kamrul Hasan Khan

It was the year 1876 that the nucleus of the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) was first created with the establishment of a survey school named 'Dacca Survey School' at a rented building at Nolgola (west of Salimullah Medical College) in the old part of Dhaka. The school established by the then Government of Bengal of British India initiated a survey course of two years duration with a view to producing men qualified to serve as land surveyors. The Survey School became the Ahsanullah School of Engineering offering three-year diploma courses in Civil, Electrical and Mechanical Engineering. In recognition of the generous financial contributions from the then Nawab Khwaja Salimullah, it was named after his father Khawja Ahsanullah.

It moved to its present premises in 1912. In 1947, the School was upgraded to Ahsanullah Engineering College as a Faculty of Engineering under the Dhaka University, offering four-year bachelor's courses in Civil, Electrical, Mechanical, Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering. In 1948 the Government of East Pakistan gave recognition to the engineering college. Hakim Ali was appointed the first Principal of the college. The then Vice-Chancellor of Dhaka University Mahmood Hasan was the first Vice-Chancellor. In 1951 TH Mathewman was appointed principal and was succeeded in 1954 by MA Rashid. In 1956 a new course-curricula and the semester system were introduced at the Ahsanullah Engineering College. In 1957 the enrolment capacity for the bachelor's degree was increased from 120 to 240 and the diploma course was withdrawn from 1958.

In order to create facilities for postgraduate studies and research, the Ahsanullah Engineering College was upgraded and the East Pakistan University of Engineering and Technology established on 1st June 1962. After the beginning of the Dacca Survey School in 1876, three persons' contributions will be remembered forever in the long drawn struggle of the Buet. They are Nawab Sir Khwaja Salimullah, first principal of Ahsanullah Engineering College Hakim Ali, and founder Vice Chancellor of Buet Prof MA Rashid.

Nawab Sir Khwaja Salimullah
Son of Nawab Khwaja Ahsanullah, Khwaja Salimullah was Nawab of Dhaka and a pioneer Muslim leader of Bengal. He joined the British Indian Civil Service as a Deputy Magistrate in 1892 and served till 1895. He became the sitting Nawab of Dhaka in 1901 after the death of his father. With the generous financial support of Nawab Salimullah, the Dacca Survey School started to offer diploma degree from 1908. In 1902 He donated one lakh 12 thousand rupees that had been promised by his father for the establishment of the Ahsanullah Engineering College.

Hakim Ali
Sher-e-Bangla AK Fazlul Haque, the then Chief Minister of Bengal, appointed Hakim Ali as the principal of the Ahsanullah School of Engineering in 1938. In 1947, when the school was upgraded to Ahsanullah Engineering College, he was appointed the first principal of the college. TH Mathewman replaced Hakim Ali as principal in 1951 and MA Rashid replaced Mathewman in 1954.

Prof. M.A. Rashid

Prof MA Rashid was first VC of the then East Pakistan University of Engineering and Technology (Epuet) and a pioneer of engineering education in Bangladesh. He was the first in Bangladesh to have a doctorate degree in engineering, according to Banglapedia. He joined the Ahsanullah Engineering College as an assistant professor in the department of civil engineering in 1948. He headed the department from 1949 to 1958. In 1954 he became the first Bangali principal of the college and for the next 16 year provided leadership for putting engineering education in Bangladesh on a solid ground. In 1958 he was made a member of the Education Commission of Pakistan and it was on the basis of one of its recommendations that the Buet was established.

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