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What can an Alumni do for its Alma Mater ?

Er. Chander Mittal

Excerpts of speech delivered during Golden Jubilee of MBM Engg College in the year 2001 at Jodhpur (Raj.) India

My name is Chander Mittal; I am a graduate of 1963 batch of Mechnical Engineering, about 38 years ago. I am excited to be here. Although I might have visited this place for a few hours at one time, but this is my first visit for all practical purposes. I have been living in the U.S. for about 33 years.

The most exciting thing I have ever heard is that the college intends to upgrade its status to that of an IIT. What a vision ! I am sure the college is perceived as an institute of higher learning. But with new status, it would provide a world class technical education here in Jodhpur, unbelievable, isn't it ? This is an achievement that every Alumni would cherish and would be proud of the new IIT status.

I think I read in Reader's Digest, and someone said that life is a series of conversations. Let me add to that, that life is also a series of experiences, events and incidents, all of which get piled up in our memories. However these memories can be recalled, revisited and even relived in many cases.

Now let me start the subject that I was given "The role of Alumni in their Alma Mater". I would like to change the subject to "What can an Alumni do for its Alma Mater". Just thinking about this topic brings back the following examples.

1. What can an ambassador do for his country ?

2. What can a son do for his mom ?

Before you all can write down the answer, let me say, "Anything and Everything". That's how I feel as an alumnus. Just plunging in, never looking back and keep going.

The subject of "Role of Alumni" for the Alma Mater is a topic that can be viewed as to how an Alumnus can discharge his duties towards the institute where he received his primary technical education that helped him to launch his professional career in this global arena. It may be no more than return of the favor for the services that he or she received while growing up. The role to be played here is that of a facilitator for transfer of technology, skill, knowhow and to help the business aspect of the institute to improve its resourcefulness for the benefit of the faculty in general and the future crop of students in particular.

Such actions on the part of Alumni set up a trend and cultivate a culture that provide a positive spin to the subject of Brain Drain; a negative connotation associated with the alumni living outside this country. The role of Alumni is that of a voluntary participation where the subject matter, its description, accuracy, quality and usefulness of the information is reviewed by the faculty of the institute for editing, moderation and implementation.

There is no magical pill that can define the exact information needed and its usefulness instantly recognized. There is no one method or procedure even universal in nature that can act as a cure all remedy. However there are many options and tools available on a pick and choose basis from time to time to meet the specific needs of the institute. Information about some of these tools/options can be described as follows.

  • Alumni can review and suggest changes to the syllabus/curriculum offered for different classes. Content of such review will vary from Alumnus to Alumnus based upon their real life experiences in the field of their expertise.
  • To write and provide seminar materials on specific subjects provided by the faculty of the institute that may be matched with the knowledge of the subject by any individual alumnus and in some cases deliver such seminars, talks or vocational lectures at the institute on a yearly basic.
    The needs of the local industries to train engineers and staff in specific areas of design, production or field service can be matched with the Alumni's personal experience and skills. In such cases having such seminars or vocational training conducted at the institute can generate some revenue for the individual Engineering Department. Such an arrangement can provide a two way dialogue with the industry. Many consulting projects can be generated between the Engineering faculties and the local industry forming an alliance for a "Know - How" flow.
  • Alumni can help to find temporary assignments for a few selected students or teachers. Primarily this could be of great help when such assignments are located in advanced countries. This provides a new exposure to the students and faculty in their field of interest. Detroit location for example could be of great interest for Automobile related research projects.
  • Non resident Alumni can find research grants/projects in their country of residence that can be awarded to the institute where it can engage some students in research, providing some monetary gains and the opportunity to publish papers.
  • Many large research foundations in western countries can be contacted for research awards/grants on specific subjects and access to such opportunities can be facilitated by an alumni. Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation are just a few to be mentioned here as an example.
  • As the foreign investment in India is on the increase; multi nationals can be contacted and the institute can offer some consulting services related to adaptation of US developed system, to Indian conditions. Change of materials, processes, configuration or repackaging are a few examples of services that can be rendered
  • Alumni can provide special training or refresher courses to faculty members in their discipliner of expertise and knowledge. This is a very good resource and is cost effective for adding more specialized knowledge or training to the faculty.
  • Addition of a world class library is a prerequisite for the transformation of an institute into a "Center of Excellence". Not only does it provide the basis for better reasearch facilities but also helps to prepare future crop of students with better knowledge of their subjects including many technological improvements.
    The complete pool of Alumni can help build a modern library; be it the list of books or donation of books or contribution of finances to purchase many technical journals or research publications, etc.
  • To provide scholarship to the students with high academic achievements probably represents the most popular and most obvious outcome of any contribution made by the Alumni to their Alma Mater. Such a program can help attract better academically inclined students at the entry level.
  • Investment in students is an investment in the college. Such a program is also progressive in nature and provides continuity both in thought and process that can yield results many times over the normal. Such a program should not be limited to providing scholarship for education at MBM, these can be extended to approval of finances to deserving students for education abroad at a few selected centers for higher education; Ivy League Universities in USA, for example.
  • Some Alumni, where possible, can help provide employment opportunities to MBM graduate when an appropriate match can be found between the job description and the qualifications of the graduates. A few of our alumni are in a position to offer H-1 visas. Such an arrangement when cultivated does help to develop kinship amongst the graduates of MBM Family.