NED UET Alumni Convention 2016 Held in Houston
This year's annual convention of alumni of Karachi's NED University of Engineering &Technology (NEDUET) held in Houston, Texas on the Labor Day weekend drew more than 500 NEDians from all over North America and the rest of the world.
Among others, it was attended by US Congressman Al Green from Texas and the Vice Chancellor of NED University Dr Afzal Haque.
AsharfHabibullah , a 1969 Civil Engineering graduate of NED and founder of Computer Structures Inc. (CSI) of Berkeley, CA, was the keynote speaker.
CSI software developed by Habibullah is used by thousands of engineers in more than 100 countries for the design of major projects, including the One World Trade Center in New York, the east span of the San Francisco Bay Bridge, the Burj-e-Khalifa in Dubai, and the Centenario Bridge over the Panama Canal, according to an introduction of Habibullah published by the University of California at Berkeley. CSI software is also widely used for research and education and CSI has generously donated software to numerous universities in many developed and developing countries. MrHabibullah is also recognized for his tireless work in supporting the arts and for championing the oft-overlooked artistic aspects of structural engineering.
There were several panel discussions during the day followed by a grand evening banquet with Pakistani food, music, stand-up comedy, mind-reading and other entertainment. Credit goes to NED alum AfzaalHafeez of the class of 1984 and his dedicated team of volunteers for a job well done.
Keynote by Ashraf Habibullah
Not only is Ashraf a successful Berkeley-based technology entrepreneur but he is also a very entertaining keynote speaker. His speech was peppered with interesting anecdotes of his years at NED and singing of parts of Mohammad Rafi songs he heard as a young man.
Part of Ashraf Habibullah's keynote act was his "bling bling" jacket that he switched to in the middle of his speech. It's a shiny golden jacket studded with flashing LED lights. Another part of his act was that he took off his hat to reveal his bald head which he blamed on the branded shampoos he used to wash his hair after he arrived in the United States in 1969. Prior to that, he says he used cheap Pakistani "Oontmarkasabun" (Camel brand soap) that he swears was good for his body and his hair.
In his keynote, Ashraf said the most valuable thing he learned at NED was to be "be sharam" (shameless). Once he became be sharam, he became free. He was willing to do whatever pleased him and took lots of risks. That helped him succeed when most people, including his father, thought he would amount to nothing.
He said there were two "qillats" (scarcities) at NED - water and girls. So he and his friend decided to capture this observation in two lines: Bharibalti main teraaksdekhtahoon/ Phirusay hila hilaketeraraqsdekhtahoon.
NEDUET Class of 1974
Among the hundreds of alumni attending the Houston Convention, there were at least 14 of my classmates from the class of 1974. Four of them live in Houston while the rest traveled from other cities to attend.
The panelists included Omar Hasan, Asif Ansari, Dr Osama Khan and DrKhurshid Qureshi. Each is contributing in his own way to help Pakistan.
Omar Hasan is part of Sawayra , a non-profit committed to empowering people with basic necessities. It is providing home solar kits, drinkable water generators and heat and electricity using Biomass and waste to energy technologies.
Sawayra is working with interns at the University of Houston to develop, test and deploy a water purification solution based on clay-pot micro-filtration, with Pakistan being the first country selected for field trials. In areas where there's shortage of drinking water, Sawayra is providing dehumidifiers to extract water from the humid air found across the coastal areas of Sindh province.
DrKhurshid Qureshi heads DICE, a program to connect Pakistani universities with various industries ranging from automotive, energy and textiles to information technology. It has spawned a number of joint projects to do research and design involving universities and industries.
DICE is sponsoring regular webinars for NED students featuring speakers from Silicon Valley and other parts of North America, including NED alumni working in various industries.
Earlier this year, DICE helped arrange a trade delegation of Pakistani Association of Automobile Parts Manufacturers (PAAPAM) to participate in and exhibit their products at Detroit Auto Show for the first time.
A panel at the convention featured TabassumMumtaz, an NED alum who decided to try his luck as an entrepreneur outside of engineering . Tabassum stated working as a cook for Long John Silver and, through his hard work, ended up owning the entire chain of the seafood restaurants. In addition, Tabassum is a grand franchisee of A&W, KFC and Taco Bell restaurants in some regions of the country run under Ampex Brands . The annual revenue from the restaurants exceeds a billion dollars.
There are at least two endowment funds that have been established by NED alumni in the United States: Koshish Foundation fund and ALEF (Alumni Endowment Fund). Each has raised about half a million dollars so far. More funds are being pledged to sponsor programs and projects at NED.
Koshish Foundation, funded mainly by NEDUET alums in Silicon Valley, provides merit-based tuition assistance to students admitted to NED University who cannot afford it.
One of the projects sponsored by ALEF, headed by NED alum Tanveer Malik, that recently received media attention is the 3D Print Lab , called NED's MakerStudio , that produced a prosthetic arm for a child in Karachi.
Another project sponsored by NED Alumni is the Grid, a Virtual Reality Lab in the Petroleum Engineering Department. 360 degree Panoramic shots, shared by the Petroleum Engineering Department’s alumni working in oil fields around the world, are helping students to get a first-hand experience of field work as if they are actually there.
NED Alumni are flourishing in the United States. They are now meeting at least once a year every year at NED Alumni Conventions in major cities in Canada and the United States. They are also giving back what they can to their country of origin and the university they attended.