Tenth NED Alumni Convention: A Torrent of Memories
By A. H. Cemendtaur
Pictures by Azmi Gill
There can be only one reason why so many NED alumni living in North America gravitate towards the annual NED Alumni Convention: they want to reconnect with their college friends and remember the best time of their lives .
Traditions, when repeated year after year, grow stronger. Organizing an annual gathering of the NED University alumni in a new city in North America, a program started in 2005 by Moin Ahmad and his associates, has taken a life of its own. Since 2005, an NED alumni convention has been held every year, and the large attendance of people at the Tenth Annual NED Alumni Convention organized in the Silicon Valley, California was a testimony to the popularity of the idea .
What started as an engineering college in 1922 is now a large university spread over three campuses. This phenomenon of physical expansion probably explains why older NED graduates -- students who graduated in the 80s and earlier -- are more keen on attending the annual reunions than the younger ones: back then the NED University was a smaller place where everybody knew everybody else and the sense of camaraderie among students, teachers, and staff was very strong.
One NED alumnus remembers his time at the NED in the backdrop of a cold war shaking the world of that time. The country had gone through a bloody civil war ending in the loss of its eastern limb. Within the intelligentsia there was a romance for egalitarian ideas associated with communism and Marxist poets promised of a revolution around the corner when 'takht giraay jaaiN gaay aur taj uchchalay jaaiN gaay' (thrones will be turned upside down, and crowns will be tossed in the air). A desire to make this world a better place was seen strongly on college campuses -- student wings of left-leaning (progressive/socialist) political parties often clashed with the right-wingers (religious/pro-capitalism/status quo groups). And there was beautiful music in the air. But Kishore Kumar and the genius of RD Burman were not heard over the eastern border; Kishore's voice ricocheted to us from the Gulf where Pakistanis would go to toil on mega development projects, and bring back sofeene, Western perfumes, Danish cream cheese, electronic gadgets, and Indian music cassettes. And with this noisy but rich background the slog of engineering studies continued: lectures and late night group study sessions, midterms and finals, calculus and differential equations, and a superficial understanding of Quantum Physics reduced to a set of algebraic equations by teachers marginally more knowledgeable than their students .
At the Tenth Annual NED Alumni Convention, reception of guests and dinner on Friday, October 10, was followed by a talent show featuring familiar NED faces and an outstanding singing performance by Asad Abbas .
Audio of Friday Night Talent Show is here :
Tenth NED Alumni Convention first day video highlights are here :
Saturday morning was the main conference day when people got to listen to Dr Afzal Haque, current Vice Chancellor of the NED University, and to Dr Ishrat Hussain, ex-Governor, State Bank of Pakistan, and current Director of the Institute of Business Administration, Karachi .
Dr Ishrat Hussain spoke eloquently and forcefully on our changing world where knowledge and innovation of a country and its people are -- and will be -- considered more precious and desirable than the country's material wealth. A video of Dr Ishrat Hussain, truly the star of the convention, is present here :
A panel discussion on Innovation, aptly suited to the entrepreneurial spirit of the Silicon Valley, followed. Besides Dr Afzal Haque and Dr Ishrat Hussain; Dr Mumtaz Hussain, ex-Vice-Chancellor of the King Edward Medical University; Dr Abbdul Ghafoor, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, NUST; Dr Khurshid Qureshi of DICE, a non-profit dedicated to creating an atmosphere of innovation on college campuses in Pakistan; and Tanvir Mallick of ALEF (NED Alumni Endowment Fund) sat on the panel. The panel discussion was moderated by Dr Ali Minai, Professor of Electrical Engineering, Univeristy of Cincinnati. Dr Minai was introduced by Mukhtar Zaidi, a popular NED alumnus of Northern California. Zaidi was the force majeure behind the 'Innovation' panel, and was responsible for bringing high-profile speakers to the discussion .
Complete audio of the panel discussion on 'Innovation in Pakistan' is here :
What have become the mainstays of an annual NED Alumni convention? A Friday night welcome dinner, daytime conference on Saturday, a Saturday afternoon city tour for out-of-town guests, a music program Saturday night, and commemorative coffee mugs for all the attendees. The Tenth Annual Alumni Convention followed the regime .
Saturday night emceeing responsibilities were shared between Safwan Shah, Chairman of the Tenth Annual NED Alumni Convention Steering Committee, and Fauzia Timberlake, an NED alumna .
Aftab Rizvi, a powerful student orator from the late 70s, was introduced by Tanvir Mallick. Rizvi in his speech read a short story he wrote on an NED student's requital to his alma mater .
Video of Aftab Rizvi's talk is here :
Dr Naveed Sherwani, a noted NED alumnus and entrepreneur, was the Saturday evening keynote speaker. In late 2007, Unicorn Investment Bank announced acquisition of majority equity share of Open-Silicon, Inc., for a sum $190 million. Open-Silicon was founded by Dr Naveed Sherwani in 2003 .
Video of Dr Naveed Sherwani's speech is here :
Saturday dinner was followed by a music program. Shujat Ali Khan, and later Jawad Ahmad sang popular songs casting a spell that attracted people to the dance floor. Attendees danced and kept dancing. There it was, the NED University of the 1980s again: carefree, jubilant, youthful, and very much living in the moment .
The three-day convention program was supported by a large number of sponsors. Individual sponsors included Amir-Ul-Islam, Imran Qureshi, Misbah Azam, Mukhtar Zaidi, Nisar Ali, Rashid Ali Baig, and Safwan Shah. Corporate sponsors inlcluded AI Engineers (President, Abul Islam), HE, JPC Holdings, Nexlogic (CEO, Zulki Khan), Pakistan Link (Owner, Arif Zaffar Mansuri), Perkan Concrete Corporation, Prosurance Redeker Group, Ltd., SI Engineering, P.C. (President, Sarwat Izhar). Non-profit sponsors included Koshish Foundation (Chariman, Suhail Akbar), NED International Alumni Network of North America (NEDIAN-NA), NED Alumni Association of Tri-State, and NED Alumni Association DC (NEDA-DC) .
The Tenth Annual NED Alumni Convention Steering Committee that put in hundreds of hours of hard work to make the event successful comprised Ahsan Hameed, Imran Qureshi, Fauzia Timberlake, Mike (Mukhtar) Zaidi, Misbah Azam, Nadeem Haque, Nigar Raza, Nisar Ali, Safwan shah, and Terry Andrade .