Montana State University

MSU professor to teach mechanical engineering in Bangladesh

May 7, 2008 -- By David Revere, for the MSU News Service


Montana State University mechanical engineering professor Ruhul Amin will teach at the Islamic University of Technology in Dhaka, Bangladesh as a visiting faculty member this summer under the Fulbright Scholar Award.(MSU photo by Kelly Gorham.)   High-Res Available

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
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Bozeman - With more than 150 million people living on a heavily-flooded piece of land approximately the size of Wisconsin, the rapidly developing country of Bangladesh presents some of the most challenging opportunities in the world for mechanical engineers. This summer, Montana State University mechanical engineering professor and Bangladesh native Ruhul Amin will contribute his expertise as a visiting faculty member at the Islamic University of Technology (IUT) in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Amin is the recent recipient of a Fulbright Scholar Award which will sponsor his May through August tenure. He will teach mechanical engineering courses, provide guidance in curriculum development and laboratory work, and collaborate with other professors to develop research activities.

"I have been looking forward to this opportunity for a long time," Amin said. "Bangladesh is the country which opened the door for me to become an engineer in the first place. I always wanted to go back and pay my debt to the land that gave me the opportunity to be an engineer."

With an agriculture-based economy, Bangladesh suffers from devastating monsoons and floods that put about one-third of the land underwater every year. Nevertheless, the floods also bring silt which is needed for fertilization of the soil. Amin said Bangladesh can take advantage of this benefit and minimize the damage of flooding through proper planning and infrastructure development by the government. He plans to raise awareness of this kind of big-picture preparation during his residency.

"There are many things that could be developed and used for the benefit of the common people," Amin said. "Irrigation pumping, mechanized farming, maintenance systems - these are very important areas for mechanical engineers to contribute to."

Amin earned his Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering in Bangladesh, afterwards moving to the United States to complete his graduate education at the University of Tennessee. He accepted a faculty position at MSU in 1989, where he has taught since.

"When I first met Ruhul in 1995, he was already widely respected," said Vic Cundy, a fellow MSU mechanical engineering professor and Amin's former department head for 10 years. "He has become well known in his field, and he's a great communicator."

Cundy said he suspects Amin's excellent communication skills were at least one significant factor in the decision to award him the scholarship. Sponsored by the United States Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Fulbright is used throughout the world to promote respect and mutual understanding between people of the U.S. and those of other countries.

"One of the main objectives of the Fulbright scholarship is to share the American way of teaching and higher education with other countries of the world," Amin said. "I know the Bangladeshi culture. I know the language, and now I'm going back as an American educator with 19 years of teaching experience. I am in a very good position to bridge the gap between the U.S. and a country like Bangladesh."

One way Amin said he plans to build this bridge is to develop a slightly less formal relationship with his students than what is customary in Bangladeshi higher education. It would provide an opportunity for his students in Bangladesh to experience a more western style of teaching.

"Today's world has become very small," Amin said. "This will not be shocking or new to them. They will just get to experience it."

Amin also hopes his experience with the largely-international student body at IUT will positively impact his teaching when he returns to MSU for the fall semester.

"Even in a remote place like Montana, we have many students from outside the U.S.," Amin said. "I think after my experience in Bangladesh, I will be able to relate much better to these students and make them feel more comfortable at a U.S. educational institution."

Contact: David Revere, (406) 994-4572 david.revere@montana.edu