UP Engineering Buoyed by 4 Million worth of Teaching Grant from DMCI Homes
A special fund amounting to P4 Million for engineering instruction and research support was awarded by DMCI Homes Kaakbay to the University of the Philippines- Diliman College of Engineering, through the UP Engineering Research and Development Foundation, Inc.
Yearly teaching grants over a five-year period will be distributed among eight deserving instructors from each of the engineering departments/institutes, namely Chemical Engineering, Computer Science, Civil Engineering, Electrical and Electronics Engineering, Geodetic Engineering, Industrial Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Mining, Metallurgical, and Materials Engineering. The remaining five grants will be awarded on a competitive basis to faculty members from any of the college departments.
“Usually donors give only one or two grants but DMCI Homes is giving the ‘Magic 13’ teaching research grants,” said the Dean of UPD COE Aura Matias. She mentioned that DMCI Homes has long been helping the university provide opportunities for students “but this time the attention is given to the faculty members, particularly the young teachers.”
According to DMCI Homes President Alfredo Austria, “It is difficult to keep the best teachers in UP if the compensation level is lower than what the private sector is offering. So we’re trying to help in the practical side: we want to help retain the good teachers because they are the heart and soul of the college.”
The reality is that once young engineer-instructors decide to have their own families, they leave the academe for greener pastures. What the grant will facilitate is the teachers’ continued practice of their academic career, “which they want to do, that also allows them to provide for a decent living for raising a family,” Matias explains. “It is for those faculty members who are just building up their experience in research, for them to actually learn how to publish and do independent research, for them to get a head start.” The college plans to encourage grantees to choose research topics that can help the construction industry and more importantly, address issues in community development.
Both Austria and Matias rue the fact that for a long time to as recently as 3 to 4 years ago, engineers were underappreciated in the country. But a quick rundown of the engineering academics’ current research interests will reveal the urgency of their work: studies in waste management and sustainable development, energy and electricity, the merging of engineering and health professions through biomedical engineering, to name a few.
The founder of the Consunji group of companies, wherein DMCI Homes belongs, is David Consunji who is an alumnus of the UP College of Engineering. His son, Isidro, the chairman of DMCI Homes, is also a product of the college. The Consunjis have remained personally involved and active in the programs of the UP alumni engineers and other engineering foundations. “It’s something of an advocacy,” saidAustria, “to strengthen the engineering education in the country because they see it as vital to the progress of the Philippines to train global engineers.”
From the leading edge to the day-to-day things, engineering encompasses our lives. UPERDFI Board of Trustees member Engr. Alfonso A. Aliga, Jr offered asphalt paving as an example, explaining that the mixture should depend on whether it is placed on the highway or inside the community, a standard often not followed in practice. Associate Dean for Institutional Linkages Rhodora Gonzalez likewise reported that UP is trying to develop a curriculum to professionalize disaster management in the country, another key area that demands efficiency improvements.
“Our faculty members… are the jewels of our college. What makes the difference in the transformation of our students is the kind of faculty that they deal with and learn from,” Matias stated as she thanked DMCI Homes Kaakbay. “It is really a great opportunity for more of our talented students to be able to work with industry and at the same time use their knowledge to build other engineers after them.”
Well-educated engineers help turn the dreams of Filipino families into reality. DMCI Homes’ Austria, who is also a graduate of UP Diliman College of Engineering, explained: “A lot of people are asking why our (housing) products have better value. Either we are able to sell it at lower prices or we are able to put more value or more amenities because of engineering efficiencies from the design to the construction, and so on. To us, whenever we build homes, it’s not just a business; we treat it as a profession. In the practice of your profession, you render the best service for your customer.”