NED Alumni Share Views
on September 8th Convention in San Jose
By Ras H. Siddiqui
Left to right: Riaz Haq, Idris Kothari
and Safwan Shah
The NED University of Engineering
and Technology in Karachi has a special place in the hearts
and minds of thousands of its Alumni worldwide. This is certainly
true of Pakistani-American graduates of this esteemed institution
who are holding a Convention in San Jose, California on September
8, 2007 for the first time (Please see http://convention2007.nedians.org/html/convention2007.html
for details or call 1 888 267 5951/ email email@example.com.)
The program for this event will incorporate both an all-day
conference and an evening banquet. It is open to all as one
does not have to be an NED alumnus to attend.
Re-established in March 1977 as a full-fledged university
based on the former NED Government Engineering College, Karachi
(named after Mr. Nadirshaw Edulji Dinshaw (NED), a well-known
philanthropist from the Parsee/Zoroastrian community), NED
was set up in 1922, and is the oldest engineering institution
in Pakistan. Starting from an initial enrolment of 50 students
in Civil Engineering more than seven decades ago, the student
population is now around 4000 at the undergraduate and graduate
levels in eight fields of engineering.
This institution was initially founded as Prince of Wales
Engineering College with donations from the citizens of Karachi
to commemorate the visit of the Prince of Wales in 1921. It
was renamed in 1924 as NED Engineering College in 1924 in
memory of Mr. Dinshaw, whose heirs made substantial donations
for its development at the time of his first death anniversary.
It was renamed as NED Government Engineering College, Karachi
after the birth of Pakistan and is now a proud university
with a new campus adjoining the University of Karachi. However
its old site still retains a sentimental value for those NEDians
who graduated from there (and even for those who visited them).
Ras H. Siddiqui (RHS) sent out a number of questions to Riaz
Haq, who is the President of the Silicon Valley Branch of
the NED Alumni Association. He received replies from not just
Mr. Haq but other members of the Executive Committee as well,
namely Safwan Shah, Moin Ahmed and Idris Kothari along with
photographs of the old NED campus from Mr. Mujib Ahmed (which
we accept with thanks). An article in Urdu by Ali Hassan Cemendtau,
a well-known area writer (and NED Alumni) was also sent in.
Pakistan Link is now indirectly related to NED via its new
owner Arif Mansuri who is an alumnus and will be on a panel
during the upcoming convention.
campus of the NED University of Engineering and Technology
Due to space constraints, not
all of the feedback could be reproduced here but presented
below are replies to 10 questions, some in condensed form
with associated first names of the individuals replying:
Q. After all of this time, why did NED Alumni choose this
year to gather in Silicon Valley ?
Riaz: Moin Ahmed, my classmate from NED in 1974, started the
effort two years ago and held conventions in 2005 and 2006
in Texas and New Jersey respectively. He saw the potential
for organizing NED alums here in the valley and asked to help
out. I agreed based on the fact that there are a significant
number of very successful NED alums here in the valley. The
response has been very encouraging.
Moin: Our first major Convention was held in Houston in 2005.
Second was held in New Jersey and this is our Third Convention.
We have decided to hold a Convention in a different city each
year. And have been successfully doing it.
Idris: Because someone took the charge and called someone
who called someone and the ball just kept on rolling.
Safwan: Being the technology hub, a large number of NEDians
live in the Bay Area.
The number of influential NEDians has grown here. Some of
the most successful NEDians are in Silicon Valley
Q. What do you hope to achieve at this first-ever official
NED Alumni gathering in the Northern California area?
Riaz: To organize a critical mass of successful alums, talk
about our history and heritage, highlight the accomplishments
and give visibility to successful alums and then set up an
endowment to give back to NED and the new generation of NEDians.
Moin: This may be the largest of our Alumni gatherings in
California. We hope to reach out and touch all the Alumni
that we possibly can and try to get them to attend the Convention,
create a meaningful and long lasting Website for NEDians,
obtain information about Alumni and NED activities and establish
an Endowment Fund to address NED and Alumni issues.
Idris: To celebrate the institution that probably has as much
to do with who I am today as my family is.
Safwan: To galvanize the NED community and create awareness
around the rich history and heritage of NED. Also to set a
standard for a professional alumni event and to carry out
a litmus test on the real strength of the NED community
Q. When did you last visit the NED Campus yourself? What were
your impressions during that visit?
Riaz: The last I visited was in 2001 but I have stayed engaged
through various online communities
Moin: I visited NED Campus last in 2003 to meet my friend
and batch mate Prof. Noman, Head of Electronics Dept. To me
the "New" NED and hostels looked run down and in
need of maintenance and repair.
Idris : Last month
Safwan: In 2003 and 2006, most recently. There have been a
lot of improvements and there seems to be a lot of money to
spend BUT NED seems unable to attract good faculty and is
having a hard time competing with newly funded, more entrepreneurial
schools that are getting built.
Q. Has there been any sustained initiative by NED Alumni in
the United States to help their old College/University in
any way that you are aware of?
Safwan: There have been many initiatives but not sustained.
Since NED is a nationalized institution it is hard to work
through the bureaucracy.
Idris: Several – there are several diehard NEDians right
in the Bay Area who will just not give up.
Q. Have any Alumni here in the US ever thought of sending
their kids to study Engineering at NED in Karachi and is there
any provision made to accommodate young people from overseas
Riaz: I would send one of them to NED if I were in Karachi
. It's a matter of convenience
Idris: No one I know – If they did – I am sure
families would love to have them stay with them.
Safwan: It is not that easy to get admission in NED. It is
a very competitive process and requires local domicile, etc.
NED does not have a tradition of attracting foreign students.
We used to get some students from Jordan and Iran in the 80’s
and 90’s but that was never easy.
Q. NED is a classic example of the positive role that minorities
have played in establishing institutions in what is present-day
Pakistan (The Parsee community in particular). Will you be
emphasizing or recognizing that role at the upcoming convention?
Moin: We have asked Ardesher Cowasjee, columnist for Dawn,
and a prominent Parsee, to write us a few paragraphs on the
"Role of Parsee Community in developing education in
Karachi ." We have also asked Mr. Cowasjee to see if
he can ask the great grand daughter of Mr. Nadirshaw Eduljee
Dinshaw to see if she would be willing to preside at our Convention.
Safwan: NED is an amazing contribution by the philanthropists.
We will be recognizing not only their role but also the Prince
of Wales for being the first patron in 1921.
Perhaps we should also condemn the folks who nationalized
Q. The choice of Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy as one keynote speaker
is interesting. Is he an NED Alumni?
Idris: Oh come on – show me a better role model for
the youth of today.
Riaz: Dr. Hoodbhoy, an MIT grad, has shown by his choice to
forego opportunities he could have had here in US to return
to Pakistan and serve the cause of science education for young
people there. In addition, he has done serious research to
understand the issues of science and tech education and can
give us some insights on how we can help NED and NEDians.
Safwan: Pervez Hoodbhoy is a non-NEDian and is very familiar
with the education system of Pakistan . He is also someone
who is read and discussed for his outspoken and fearless views.
He is someone who is from within the system. There are few
role models of his stature in Pakistan .
Q. What would it take to establish a scholarship or two for
deserving students to attend NED funded by your local Alumni
and has your group thought about it?
Idris: Several Alumni have committed to start a fund. Scholarships
would be the best way to help NED.
Safwan: We are announcing concrete steps towards this end.
Endowment, scholarships, formal and sustainable funding for
the Alumni association … are all part of the steps we
are going to address and also announce in the convention-2007
Moin: The establishment of our NED Endowment Fund will make
this possible also.
Riaz: An endowment fund is the first step toward that.
Q. Does NED have any official relationships with colleges
here in the United States? Are any in our Northern California
Safwan: None that I know of. I do know that Professor Ali
Minai from University of Cincinnatti, Ohio has set up the
department of Bio-Engineering and also done other stuff. He
will be here at the convention.
Moin: NED does have some official relationships with a couple
of colleges where they send their teachers and Faculty for
Q. What do you attribute the success of NED alumni in the
United States to?
Idris: To NED – of course….
Moin: It is natural after a new community settles down in
any foreign country and starts getting wealthy to think about
philanthropic efforts to help their country of origin. I think
NEDians have in the last 40-50 years established themselves
and a lot of them are now well off to help NED.
Safwan: Because NEDians are very resourceful and have a long
history of role models. Each batch has some role models to
derive inspiration from. The US celebrates and rewards resourceful
and creative people. NEDians are extremely resourceful and
some of the best of available talent. There are only 500 students
admitted on pure merit: Another 150 to 200 on various quotas.
The pure merit students are selected from over 50,000 candidates.
Riaz: It is a highly selective admission process to become
a NEDian followed by the opportunity to learn with the best
and the brightest in Pakistan. And the most entrepreneurial,
risk-taking among us head out to the US and find a way to
succeed on our own.