Date: 26th September 2019
Host: IEEE Bangladesh Section.
Co-hosts: Women In Engineering Affinity Group of IEEE Bangladesh Section and Women In Engineering Affinity Group, IEEE IUB Student Branch.
IEEE Bangladesh Section (IEEE BDS) and IEEE Women in Engineering Affinity Group IEEE Bangladesh Section (WIE AG BDS), collaborating with WIE AG of IEEE IUB Student Branch, organized a special track titled “IEEE Bangladesh Section WePower Track: A World Bank Initiative” on September 26th 2019, at the 5th International Conference on Advances in Electrical Engineering (ICAEE 2019). Anamika Bhakta, Vice Chair of Technical Regulation, Robi Axiata Ltd. and current chair of Women in Engineering Affinity Group of IEEE Bangladesh Section, chaired the session. Upon her invitation, the first speaker of the session, Nafisa Zarrin Tasnim, Senior Engineer, R&D Division, Energypac Engineering Limited, took the podium and talked about how the operations of Energypac have been contributing to the Power and Energy Sector of the country. She played an illustrative video of showing intriguing aspects of the company and its contributions. After a speaker from the Industry, next on stage was a speaker from the academia – Shoilie Chakma, Lecturer, Department of EEE, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology. Ms. Shoilie addressed the younger portion of the audience and conducted an enjoyable interactive speech taking them on a virtual journey of best practices from student to professional level. She offered them several tips and advice on how they can align their interests so that they are primed for contribution in the power and energy sector of the country. The final speaker, was from the government sector. Jorifa Khatun, Deputy Director (XEN), System Planning, Bangladesh Power Development Board, captured the audience attention through a highly informative speech on the current status of power and energy sector in Bangladesh, the status quo of women serving in that field and the plethora of opportunities waiting them. Citing the World Bank statistics that only 2-15% of contributors in the power field are women, Ms. Jorifa remarked that it is surely to change as the Government has taken many steps to ensure suitable working environment for female engineers in the field. She emphasized that work in the power and energy sector can be done equally efficiently by both male and female engineers and encouraged the attending students to consider these scenarios. After first half with the three speakers from industry, academia and govt. sectors, the session moved on its second segment, which was a panel discussion. Dr. Lamia Iftekhar, Associate Professor from North South University, and current Vice-Chair (Technical) of Women In Engineering Affinity Group of IEEE Bangladesh Section, served as the moderator of the panel. The panel consisted of three dynamic guests, Ms. Tanuja Bhattacharjee, Energy Specialist from the World Bank, Ms. Nasheeba Selim, Sr. Social Development Specialist (Gender), Asian Development Bank and Ms. Raisa Rahman from the Human Resources of Infrastructure
Development Company Limited (IDCOL). Ms. Tanuja explained briefly about how multilateral development banks such as the World Bank, have been contributing to the power sector of the of the country. Asian Development Bank, Ms. Nasheeba’s institution, also made similar contributions and for the panel, she focused on the different operations taken by her institutions for gender mainstreaming and women empowerment. She alluded to the importance of accepting the socio-economic factors for the efficient deployment technological solutions. The third panelist represented IDCOL, an institution that specializes in renewable energy, particularly solar panel systems. Ms. Raisa addressed the student portion of the audience directly giving them an insight into how the energy sector hires fresh graduates and the qualifications that are sought from the candidates. Ms. Raisa also mentioned that her institution is considering an internship plan for stronger collaboration with the academia. In the second round of the panel discussion, the panelists explained the WePower Initiative to the audience and pointed out how this initiative has been taken to encourage the inclusion, retention and empowerment of women at different levels of their career (from higher studies to top leadership) in the power and energy sector. The end of the session consisted of taking a group picture with the guests and the audience, as well, as, presenting the valued speakers and panelists with token of appreciation. Dr. Celia Shahnaz, Chair, IEEE Bangladesh Section, shared her valuable insights and made the concluding remarks for the session. This multi-item session, which brought together experts from the power and energy sectors of Bangladesh from all three domains (industry, academia and govt.), has presented the audience with a comprehensive picture of the opportunities in the sector, and has thus been a grand success.