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Pakistani engineers’ role vital in national uplift: PU chief engineer

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Faiz Sipra says our engineers actively contributing under CPEC projects

By Talha Akmal

Photography: Hassan Raza

Dams are indispensable and Pakistani engineers have a great scope in water reservoirs construction besides vast opportunities to contribute in the national development under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects. This was stated by Mr. Faiz-ul-Hassan Sipra, Chief Engineer of Punjab University. The Educationist conducted an interview with him, following are the details:

THE EDUCATIONIST: Please do tell us about your early life and education?

Engr. Faiz-ul-Hassan Sipra: First of all, let me appreciate the efforts of Mr. Shabbir Sarwar who is paying his role for the promotion of all academic institutions through such interviews. I belong to Sahiwal and its old name was Montgomery. This area is quiet famous for many things and is rich with green leaves and with its flora. I am very proud of that I belong to such place and am extremely thankful to Allah Almighty.

I acquired my education from various institutions. The reason behind this, is because my father was in the army and he was a colonel there. As there are many interchanges in this particular job in any of the city of Pakistan so I got my education from different institutions. I think the most important element in my grooming was Military College Jehlum and I passed my FSc from there. I admire above all was my training, that particular factor was printed my character. I was also blessed with great teachers and friends. Even now whenever we arrange reunions, it makes us recall the memories of our alma mater. I also desired to be part of army but as we all know God plans better for all of us and with this famous proverb that “Man proposes and God disposes” I can’t be enough thankful to God that he settled things far more good then the person himself. I then started my journey in UET for civil engineering and completed it. The qualities of leadership were instilled in my behavior from my military college and I feel that these qualities were brimmed in myself. Leadership qualities referred to the skills of public speaking, self-confidence and courage and also to cop up with your fear like the boxing skill which I learnt in college, these were some of the attributes involved in it. So these attributes motivated me on every path.

THE EDUCATIONIST: As you wanted to join armed forces but you couldn’t, are you satisfied with the destiny of becoming an engineer?

Engr. Faiz-ul-Hassan Sipra: To be very frank, if you will have an overlook of my educational career, it is for sure that my desires and efforts were apparently different from my current situation but now when I entered in my field and I had a good experience in this field I am thankful. I feel this work is related to my taste and I really enjoy my work. From my childhood I was interested in building houses, roads and such things and I was also there in the scouts so there we make gadgets so I realize that from beginning there was bit of an engineer in myself. If it was purely an accident then I can never enjoy or put efforts in it.

THE EDUCATIONIST: Tell us about your professional experience?

Engr. Faiz-ul-Hassan Sipra: When I was passed out in 2000, there were no such attractive jobs for civil engineers. This was the reason for which I went for the civil services exam and managed to clear it thrice but unfortunately did not get allocation as I had a command in public speaking inscribed in myself so I opted for the teaching profession.

I taught the subject of B Tech honors and architecture as well. Later, I realized that there was no creativity involved in it. Being a teacher it might be okay but in my perception the practicing engineer’s life is different. That’s why I switched to field work and then joined MDC consultant and did some good projects. I also did a project of UNESCO as a civil engineer that was related to the consultant of Sheesh Mahal, Lahore Fort. I had a great exposure on this project that was regarding the preservation of Sheesh Mahal with the history of British era.

Basically Lahore Fort is covered under the UNESCO law. I had a great experience to work with Yasmin Laari and Saida Wandal who was then the principal of NCA. After that I worked with the consultants of small dams and it was indeed a good experience.

THE EDUCATIONIST: When did you join PU?

Engr. Faiz-ul-Hassan Sipra: In 2006, a job opportunity came and I was recruited as an engineer in PU. It has been 12 years and with the grace of Allah Almighty I am contented with this job. There are many expansions in the construction that took place in this new campus. There are many projects that we have completed including road project, sewerage water supply systems and a multipurpose building also.

THE EDUCATIONIST: At some point in our life we are confronted with the fear of failure, how you dealt with such circumstances or with what sort of frame of mind you overcome it?

Engr. Faiz-ul-Hassan Sipra: First of all I haven’t come up with any such thing, in my life till now, which I treated as the do or die situation. I am a very positive person and I believe in the powers of the Almighty Allah. When our creator has created us for something he will surely provide that to us and if there is something that is not for us, we should not go for that. I always seek fight with the challenges of my life and I think whatever challenges were put up in front of me I confronted. I always find myself equal to my every task.

THE EDUCATIONIST: What kind of reforms you brought to this department?

Engr. Faiz-ul-Hassan Sipra: The time period of 12 years was very productive for myself and I am very blessed because of the academic atmosphere here. As we know that the core business of PU is education so I passed my MBA from Institute of Business Administration and the reason behind this degree was related to the skills of administration and management that I felt was required.

I wanted to be fully prepared, I must be a visionary so I can have a deep insight of the things beforehand. I also should have honest approach and so I can be capable to distinguish by the pros and cons of any matter. After that I passed my Masters in Human Resource from Institute of Administrative Sciences. Now, I am doing my M.Phil degree from PU and I also think that this is only because I wanted to enhance my capacity and so I preferred to engage myself in these educational activities. I am not stated as the typical boss who just orders rather I take my workers as a team.

I think the element of maintenance is also necessary and secondly in my view the persons that are familiar with the work should be allotted that very work and then there will be no hatch patch and lastly good work is also appreciated from my side. I never compromised on the quality and I often ask my workers to use good quality brands for the construction like steel, cement, concrete. I personally believe that it’s my Alma Mater and the oldest seat of learning which provides a plat form for my education and for my job as well and is the beautiful green campus which is like a family for all of us and I think it’s like my home. Human being can commit mistake but I always tried my level best to not take my job for granted so anyone could mark objection on my work.

THE EDUCATIONIST: What is you take about the constructions of new dams as well as the feasibility of Diamer Bhasha Dam and about the scope for Pakistani Engineers?

Engr. Faiz-ul-Hassan Sipra: As we all know that building dams is indispensable for Pakistan due to increasing water crisis. Here, I would also talk about the constructed small dams in Sindh, Baluchistan and Punjab which are also contributing to the water safety. This trend should also be kept in mind while making strategies. Secondly, Diamer Bhasha Dam is a pivotal project. It will not only harness the generation of electricity but also secure a vast amount of water storage, which is a dire need of the time. It is our moral duty to protect the future of our generations. Pakistani engineers’ participation would be a key to this project because they are truly aware of the northern areas and behavior of the soil, better than any other foreign company.

THE EDUCATIONIST: It is a perception that in CPEC, Pakistani engineers have been sidelined. Do you think that they are not capable enough to be engaged as an asset in CPEC?

Engr. Faiz-ul-Hassan Sipra: It is a misconception and rather misinformation that Pakistani engineers have been sidelined in CPEC. They are working along with army engineers in different CPEC related projects. But there are some specialized projects such as tunneling which require trained human resource and specific equipment. Unfortunately, we as skilled engineers or human resource in that specific are blasting, digging in order to meet the time limitations. Foreign companies are being called for but we cannot neglect their importance as they are working on other projects like constructions of roads, power management sectors etc.

THE EDUCATIONIST: Any advice for our youth and especially for the young engineers?

Engr. Faiz-ul-Hassan Sipra: I think engineers are intelligent from the perspective of education. The thing I observe is morals, if you don’t have good moral training then you lack the quality to be a good engineer. If a person doesn’t have the capacity to think out of the box then he cannot become a good engineer. Our English should be up to date as Sir Syed Ahmed Khan said, if you can’t be able to have a staunch command on this foreign language then you will never step ahead in your life. There are now indigenous programs offered as well but I think the exposure of an engineer should be as a whole. He must be a diversified personality with the skills of leadership and strong training too. There should be goal oriented approach and focus on achieving the desired ambition.

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