Back in 2015 July, I was preparing my papers for Higher Studies in Kyushu Institute of Technology. At the same time I was a student of BRAC University. I was due to graduate in August. While I was making the preparation, I surprise news came in. If we could manage some research grant, we could start working on our own satellite immediately. A scope was there which later came to be known as BIRDS Project. We were very excited. We tried to approach the key personalities within the university. The time was short and it was considerable amount. We would never make it within the due time.
What if we could go and talk to Abed sir? Would that help? At that time, it was a crazy idea. But we somehow managed a 10 minutes appointment with Abed sir. We prepared the briefing material. At that time, nobody knew about Nano-satellites. Everyone we’d talk to, thought, we were trying to build a 3 ton satellite. So that’s how we prepared our briefing. I don’t remember how big it was. About 10 pages. We included all the questions you might have. What is a Nano-Satellite? Why they are useful? What sets them apart? Also, their limitations. On the day of the meeting, we were prepared to give the presentation. Arif sir would make the presentation and rest of us would be present in the room. Mind you, we were still BRACU students.
When Abed sir walked in, after the brief introduction of everyone, Arif sir prepared to started the presentation. To our surprise, he said something in the line of,
I’ve seen your file. Here’s what I don’t understand….(* Paraphrased. I couldn’t find the minutes from the meeting.)
Imagine our surprise, until that day, we had to repeat same points over and over again to get somebody on the same page as us. This is quite normal. If you are managing a large office, I really doubt that you’ve sufficient time to do your homework. We understand. That’s why we were there, to show them what we’ve learned.
Abed sir is just not the founder and Chairperson of BRAC Bangladesh, by then, BRAC model has been adopted in multiple other countries. Even countries like USA. (Google BRAC USA to know more). A guy who is managing one of the biggest NGO shouldn’t have had time for our briefing! That’s why we’re just satisfied with 10 minutes appointment.
We’re surprised but we’re happy. We’d now emphasize on the important bits. The questions came one after another. I wish I had taken more notes on that meeting….but from what I can recall, I was astounded that these questions were not general questions. Not questions like, “How big is it?” or “Why is it so small?”. He asked us questions on the topics those we debate over in an appropriate conferences and workshop. If my memory is correct he asked about ‘Orbital Debris’. Orbital debris is still a fresh field to do your research on. This guy, who runs one of the largest NGO in the world, works for the betterment of poor people, has no exposure to satellites, is asking us the big questions. Questions we didn’t know the proper answer back then (Fortunately, Arif sir was there)
The whole meeting was just like a dream. It was over quickly. But we took total 20 minutes. He have us extra 10 minutes. We were all aware of the time. We knew the 10 minutes mark has been passed. We’re expecting to be cut off and said something in the line of, “Ok. I see. I’ll let you know. Bye.”. Instead, we received a reply like,
This is great project and a good opportunity. BRAC University should pursue projects like this.(AGAIN, I’m paraphrasing.)
As he left the room, we were all standing in shock.
“Did our funding just got approved???!!!!!!!!!!”
Is that it? Is that all we had to do? No coming to accounts office everyday?? No talking / meeting with Mr. X?? Are we done???
It appears we’re done. Within days we received the good news that the research fund has been approved and on our way.
Fast forward in 2019, we built the first satellite for Bangladesh and people still grieve why didn’t we do it any sooner.
It was people like Sir Fazle Hasan Abed and Prof. Ziauddin Ahmad who we’re silently watching over us that we could come so far. Both of them are no longer with us. But we will keep walking. We will keep pushing forward. When I grow old, I want to be at-least 5% of the man Sir Abed was.
Thank you sir. You’ll forever remain in our hearts.