UET Alumni Association: Organizing Pakistani Alumni Abroad

Posted on April 5, 2008
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Education, Pakistanis Abroad, Society
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Adil Najam

UET Engineering Univeristy LahoreUET Engineering Univeristy LahoreI am off to Washington DC shortly to speak at an event organized by the UET Alumni Association of North America this Saturday evening. I am delighted to be going there, but even more delighted that such an association has been created for the University of Engineering and Technology (UET), Lahore, and is active and alive – indeed, the UET Alumni Association of North America has been active since the mid-1990s.

UET Engineering Univeristy LahoreBut it does make me wonder why Alumni Associations of Pakistani educational institutions – although some do exist and a few are quite active – do not, in general, prosper as much as one would expect? Why is this so? Would it make a difference if they were organized? And, if so, how do we go about doing so?

There are clearly some Alumni Associations that are and have been very active – including, especially North American Alumni Associations of Medical Colleges and also many electronic discussion forums of particular Alumni networks. We know, even on this forum, that people take their identity of which institutions they went to very seriously. Indeed, many attempts have often been made to organize such Associations in various forms in various places and at various times. Most such efforts, however, tend to fizzle away after pioneering efforts by a few dynamic individuals and many fail to sustain themselves over time.

I got thinking about this last week when I was in Qatar speaking to the Pakistani community there at events organized by the Pakistan Engineers Forum in Doha. Apart from the fact that these were amazingly well-organized events, they were made all the more memorable for me because I met there dozens and dozens of people who had gone to the same schools and colleges as myself, and many many who had been there at the same time as myself. This, of course, reminded me of the utility of creating such organizations. But it also reminded me of the fact that many efforts to organized such associations for many institutions have faltered. Some have prospered for a little while, only to wither away later. Others have never ever taken off. Why?

This is especially true for Associations of Alumni abroad. Alumni associations of Pakistanis abroad. They have a compelling case to congregate because of the diasporic nature of this community. They also have the resources. And, above all, if one thinks about what is the single most important asset that well-to-do Pakistanis abroad bring with them from Pakistan, it is their education. The education we bring from Pakistan, above all, is our passport to success abroad – especially, but not solely, in the USA. Why, then, are we not as successful in organizing our Alumni Associations as we should be?

Adil Najam: Portrait of a Giving CommunityThe assumption, of course, is that if we did we would not only derive personal gratification from “hanging out” out with our peers in terms of identity and networking, but also that we might be able to contribute in a more organized way to these institutions and to Pakistan in general. My own academic research suggests that (a) if we did organize our Alumni networks we could make such contributions, but (b) in general, we not only do not organize such networks but in most cases loose touch with our institutions for that very reason.

Again, the question is why? Do share any ideas you have, and also any information of active Alumni Associations and networks that you have.

23 Comments on “UET Alumni Association: Organizing Pakistani Alumni Abroad”

  1. Riaz Haq says:
    April 5th, 2008 1:26 am

    NED Alumni Association of America has been organizing annual conventions of NEDians in North America for the last three years. The last one was organized by Silicon Valley NEDians and attracted 400 attendees in San Jose, CA. To see details of this event, please visit http://convention2007.nedians.org .
    In the aftermath of this event, I set up an NEDians social network which was later opened up to all Pakistani alumni around the world. I think it makes for Pakistani engineering grads to do something along the lines of the successful IIT Alumni association which welcomes all IIT alumni from its seven or eight campuses nationwide in India. I have floated this idea personally at a UET Lahore mixer I attended last year in Silicon Valley at Chandni restaurant. If the readers of ATP are interested, please contact me via the PakAlumni website at http://www.pakalumni.com

  2. Owais Mughal says:
    April 5th, 2008 2:55 am

    This is Great news and I wish good luck and success to UET alumni association.

    Riaz Haq Saheb who left a comment before me is very active in running a similar association for NED university and he (and many of us) also wants to see strong networking among different alumni associations.

  3. libertarian says:
    April 5th, 2008 10:10 am

    Adil, do you have back-of-envelope numbers for these institutions in various locations? One reason they may not have taken off is lack of critical mass in a local area. Riaz has proved that Silicon Valley has a sufficient number of NED-ians to form a thriving organization. The other is a lack of folks who are paid to promote the organization. Many of these networks comprise people of significant means that can be tapped for funding the (small) administration required to guarantee the survival of the association.

  4. Daktar says:
    April 5th, 2008 10:11 am

    Good to hear that there is a UET Alumni Association. I know of many UET groups but they are usually friends of the same bath and so on. The real issue is what you mention, of continuity. Many good initiative start but then they fail because there is no followup. I wish the best to this Association and hope that it will be able to grow into a stronger and continuous platform for UETians.

  5. Namita says:
    April 5th, 2008 11:04 am

    Dear Adil, all the best for your Washington trip. I do hope you’ll be posting the text of your talk at UET.
    Warm regards, Namita

  6. April 5th, 2008 11:23 am

    There would never be enough Pakistanis abroad from one institute to make an active/effective alumni organization. Instead we should simply have one big association “Pakistani Alumni” or some thing.

  7. Mustafa says:
    April 5th, 2008 12:20 pm

    We should try to create a global brand image for some Pakistani institutes that will be useful to everyone. Look at the way Indians have created a brand image of their IITs. Practically every American university has faculty and student members from IITs. Each year they organize grand get togethers, often lavishly supported by Indian government, inviting high profile speakers like Bill Gates and Hillary Clinton . We should also take such initiatives.

  8. HAIDER says:
    April 5th, 2008 2:07 pm

    There are very large number of alumni of some institutions like UET and med schools..
    enough to organize

  9. ISMAILHUSAIN says:
    April 5th, 2008 5:26 pm

    There are actually a lot of networks but as someone said they are of ‘friends’ who were together or in same or similar classes. There is a need for these to consolidate and that will happen around common purpose. That means that the institution has to get involved itself and give their Alumni something to do. Then people will come forward themselves if there is a “project” of some sort.

  10. libertarian says:
    April 5th, 2008 6:18 pm

    Mustafa: Look at the way Indians have created a brand image of their IITs
    The IITs are in a league by themselves. Trying to match that success is becoming hard even for schools like MIT. Establishing a brand around that kind of disproportionate success is relatively easy – lots of folks wants to be associated with it. Where else can you expect to meet (in one place) people like Vinod Khosla, Victor Menezes, Rakesh Gangwal, Vinod Dham, Kanwal Rekhi and others. It’s definitely an example worth emulating – but maybe without the expectation of matching that kind of reach.
    Full disclosure: I am an IIT alum.

  11. Muhammad Uzair Sukhera says:
    April 6th, 2008 2:58 am

    What i believe as a university student is that the atmosphere here in universities is stifling. Students don’t have much say in most affairs pertinent to them. Maybe the hijacking by military personal of the universities (UET and NUST in particular) is an important reason behind the lack of student representation.

    Due to this lack of association with the parent institutions the graduates just run away after the university and several make a vow never to return again. Had the atmosphere been more lively people would have loved to keep contact with their parent institutions.

    Now, as adil bhai has rightly mentioned that, the alumni associations, inspite of being acitive, generally don’t bring a desired response. We all must look into the root causes with a broader persepective, not from the eyes of the alumni or faculty but from the viewpoint of the students. This will help us reach a few useful conclusion to improve the way things get going here.

    So i reiterate; association with universities is like association with any specific brand, the more you invest in advertisement and quality control the more will be the fame!

  12. Asim Kaleem says:
    April 6th, 2008 7:03 am

    OOOOO After a long time I heard a good news about Pakistani Engineers gathering abroad especially of UET, Lahore (as I am a civil engineer from the same institue). Its wonderful as our engineers ave never been able to make such gathering due to their internal differences. I had witnessed this situation in Bahrain where I had worked for two years. I am the member of Institute of Engineers, Pakistan – Bahrain Chapter but the organization was not that much successful because of differences among the members. Where as the Indian Engineers Association was so huge and so cooperative, I can’t mention. So Pakistanis should always see the interest of their country not their personal interests.

  13. Avinash says:
    April 6th, 2008 7:41 am

    “The IITs are in a league by themselves. Trying to match that success is becoming hard even for schools like MIT… It

  14. Syed says:
    April 6th, 2008 12:14 pm

    thank you Prof Najam for your inspiring speech yesterday. You made all of us proud to be Pakistanis.

  15. S. Khan says:
    April 7th, 2008 9:41 am

    Dr. Najam.
    It was a privelege to hear you speak at the UET Alumni dinner and the OPEN event in DC this weekend. I absolutely agree with your comment that Pakistanis living in the US should contribute to “sustainable development” back home. The question is how?
    The Kinnaird College alumni in North America have a pretty active OAKS Association and have been making contributions for scholarships for the last few years but now we need to step it up a notch. This should be on our agenda at our annual reunion in May.
    Thanks for being such an active advocate for the Pakistani community. We need more involved individuals like you.

  16. Abdul Hai says:
    April 7th, 2008 11:23 am

    I have heard suggestions, great ideas, and criticisms about the UET Alumni association for the last one year. Many of my old friends have stopped taking my phone calls about UET and delete my emails. Over a year we have been able to register a meagre 200 alumni on the UET website.

    We had 190 guests at UET dinner on Saturday, April 5, 2008. The feedback I received was they all enjoyed it. However, I am disappointed that so far I have not received a single dollar in charitable contribution for the UET and its students during the dinner or afterwards. Great ideas, comparisons with IIT will not make UET better.

  17. Abdul Hai says:
    April 7th, 2008 11:23 am

    I have heard suggestions, great ideas, and criticisms about the UET Alumni association for the last one year. Many of my old friends have stopped taking my phone calls about UET and delete my emails. Over a year we have been able to register a meagre 200 alumni on the UET website.

    We had 190 guests at UET dinner on Saturday, April 5, 2008. The feedback I received was they all enjoyed it. However, I am disappointed that so far I have not received a single dollar in charitable contribution for the UET and its students during the dinner or afterwards. Great ideas, comparisons with IIT will not make UET better.

  18. Muhammad Uzair Sukhera says:
    April 8th, 2008 12:05 pm

    So i guess Dr abdul hai’s statements can lead to conclusion that people may like to meet up with old colleagues, enjoy old memories, yet they in most likely terms are not willing to own their parent educational institutions. Unless we address the issues at grass root level things might remain sluggish and stale!

  19. Reza Kamran says:
    April 8th, 2008 5:57 pm

    UET is doing a wonderful job. I would like to see all Pakistan Engineers coming together under one umbrella like the famous IIT that is mentioned here.

    The PAN-IIT Global Conference held in July 2007 was a grand event attended by Hillary Clinton and CEO of GE.
    http://www.iit.org/iit2007/

    To raise high profile, all Pakistan engineering schools need to get together.

  20. Afaq says:
    April 9th, 2008 5:42 pm

    I am glad that UET alumni are getting together. They can contribute a lot back if they get together.

  21. iFaqeer says:
    April 11th, 2008 12:09 pm

    As Riaz Saahab pointed out NED Alumni are starting to organize–and by that I don’t mean that we just started this year. One-off’s in a blaze of glory are easy to achieve; true organizing takes years.

    What we have started doing in the NED context is bringing existing groups together and encouraging new ones to form. And, as Riaz Saahab said, one set of alumni has taken it on itself to work with communities around the country to hold conventions, with 3 already held and the next two in planning stages.

    The other thing we’ve done is started to collect contact info for groups, etc., and create a central site for alumni everywhere. That work has started here:

    http://NEDians.org/

    The collection of information started on this WikiPakistan page:

    http://pakistan.wikia.com/wiki/NED_Alumni

    Folks above have said that we should do the same for all Pakistani alumni–both of Pakistani institutions, and Pakistanis elsewhere, I’d say. Well, I’d like to remind folks that the following page–which is an open database anyone can edit/add to–is exactly such a resource. Folks can use it to collect info for their communities, and then, when they’re ready, take the next step like we’ve done for NEDians.

    http://pakistan.wikia.com/wiki/Alumni_Groups

    But this discussion is engineering-focused. Don’t forget what wonderful work the alumni of our medical colleges have already done: APPNA, DOGANA (Dow Graduates of North America), etc. deserve rich mention.

  22. jalal says:
    September 20th, 2008 5:41 pm

    salam seniors..

    its jalal from 06 electrical uet…we at uet,are waiting anxiously for a strong alumni network like most other universities..i,along with many friends,volunteer to assist in every possible manner in organizing,planning and undertaking this momentous task!

    regards.

  23. khurram burjees says:
    March 6th, 2009 12:29 pm

    salams

    i m a uetian 07 mechanical from uet taxila.i think we should make a saperate site.And also talk sometimes about uet taxila.lolz

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