Engineering Alum Pays it Forward a Decade OnBy UA Foundation - July 13, 2011, 1:51 pm
UA Engineering alumnus Iftekhar Ahmed was profiled in the UA Foundation's inaugural "Ten by Ten," which examines the lives of young donors and what inspires them to support UA.
"Education is the most accessible route to upward mobility for individuals and groups in American society," says Iftekhar Ahmed, who earned three degrees in civil engineering from the University of Arizona, graduating with his doctorate in 2001.
"When I was a student I used to look for scholarship funds," the 38-year-old college professor reminisces. Now he helps make possible the same opportunities afforded him.
Education is Ahmed's profession, as well as the focus of his philanthropy. Following in his father's footsteps, he became a civil engineer and today works as an assistant professor in the civil and environmental engineering department at Prairie View A&M University, a member of the Texas A&M University System. He also supports his alma mater with gifts to the UA College of Engineering.
"I cannot give a lot," says Ahmed, "but whatever I do helps out."
When he graduated for the first time with a bachelor's degree, his family traveled from Bangladesh to attend the ceremony. "My sister was also attending the UA at the time, and I was set to start my master's program," he says, adding, "It was just the right time for everything."
After working for notable engineering consulting firms in Phoenix, he accepted his first teaching post in 2009 with the goal of inspiring and preparing future engineers for the workplace.
"It perfectly suits him and his demeanor," says 1995 UA Engineering alumna and friend, Carol Klein. "I'm sure he pushes his students to do their best while keeping the atmosphere positive and creative."
Klein and other friends describe Ahmed as "thoughtful," "very bright," "hardworking," and having "a wonderful set of ethics and values."
"He looked at problems in a unique way," said Ahmed's mentor and former professor, Kevin Lansey, head of the civil engineering and engineering mechanics department. "He was willing to take risks as a doctoral student, and that's not typical."
"As a UA graduate, I was ready for the challenges of any job. I've accomplished much in industry and academic experiences in the last 10 years," says Ahmed.