Prof. Dr. Muhammad Shahjahan was an eminent civil engineer and water resource specialist who became the 6th Vice-Chancellor of BUET in 1991. Dr. Shahjahan was born on 2nd January in 1939. He completed his matriculation in 1954 from Armanitola Government High School, Dhaka and Intermediate examination from Dhaka College in 1956. He earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1960 from Ahsanullah Engineering College (AEC), Dhaka securing first position in order of merit. Immediately after graduating, he joined Dept. of Civil Engg., of AEC as a lecturer. He completed master’s in 1963 from Colorado State University, USA and PhD in 1970 from the University of Strathclyde.

Prof. Shahjahan pioneered in many development activities of BUET. Aside from serving as a faculty member, he also served in many administrative positions on BUET which includes Provost of students’ halls, Head of the Department of Water Resources Engineering, Director of IFCDR, BUET (now IWM), Dean of the Faculty of Civil Engineering etc. He was one of the key persons whose initiative established the Department of Water Resources Engineering in BUET in 1974. He also served as a Vice-Chairman of the Council of BITs. When he took the office of the Vice-Chancellor in 1991, age-old and outdated numerical grading system was in effect in BUET. There was no option for the students to choose subjects.  Failure to pass a subject generally forced a student to repeat the whole course of a particular year. Under his initiative, the modern and world-wide accepted letter grading system was introduced in BUET. This system enabled admission of new batches of students at every six months of interval which greatly helped in reducing the severe session jam that was prevailing at that time in BUET. Dr. Shahjahan was also a good administrator who brought greater discipline among the staff of BUET.

As a prominent water resources specialist, contribution of Prof. Shahjahan cannot be overlooked. He served Govt. of Bangladesh as an expert member in many committees and bodies such as Bangladesh-China Technical Committee on Flood Management (1988), Indo-Bangladesh Task Force on Flood Management, Bangladesh-Nepal Technical Committee on Flood Management (1988), Bangladesh-Bhutan Team of Experts on Flood Management (1988), Joint Evaluation Committee of the World Bank and Bangladesh on Land Water Sector Study by IBRD (1974), Technical Committee on Irrigation Management Programme (IMP), Govt. of Bangladesh (Chairman, 1980), Joint Bangladesh-Dutch Evaluation Team on the Delta Development Project/Land Reclamation Project of the Bangladesh Water Development Board (1974 & 1989), Panel of Experts of Jamuna Multipurpose Bridge Authority (1994) and many more. His expert advice and opinion on various issues related to water and flood management, sharing of the water of common rivers of Bangladesh and India etc. greatly helped Govt. of Bangladesh in taking decisions and in policy making.

Dr. Shahjahan’s contribution to the engineering community of Bangladesh is unforgettable. He was elected the President of the Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh (IEB) twice, in 1994 and in 2000. His leadership helped alleviate the discrepancy in the status of engineers of cadre service and autonomous bodies.  He established the Engineering Staff College for professional training of the engineers. Many other development and modernization activities of IEB took place during his tenure as the President. Dr. Shahjahan shall be ever remembered by the engineering community of Bangladesh as a true leader.

In recognition to his contribution to various fields of engineering, education and society, he was awarded Mawlana Akram Khan Memorial Gold Medal (1993), Genesis Gold Medal (1994), Dhaka Youth Foundation Gold Medal (1995) etc. Govt. of Bangladesh awarded him Ekushey Padak in 1996 (posthumously confirmed in 2002). He also posthumously received IEB Gold Medal in 2000.

Dr. Shahjahan died on Sept. 20, 2000.

References

  1. Muhammad Shahjahan in Wikipedia
  2. ডঃ এম, শাহজাহানঃ একজন আলোকিত মানুষ – সম্পাদক ডঃ মোহাম্মদ ইকবাল, ২য় সংস্করণ, ২০১৪।