Region 10 Manifests Diversity with Scholarship Plus

by Dean Sharafi & Lalit Goel

Region 10, due to its great diversity, offers both challenges and opportunities when it comes to formulating and implementing the Scholarship Plus (S+) initiative.

The S+ activities in Region 10 started in May 2013 by setting up the Scholarship Plus Committee by her Regional Representative (RR), Lalit Goel. Based on the early success of the program in North America, the Committee led by R10 (South) Chapter Representative (CR), Dean Sharafi, created a survey to gauge the need of different countries in the region and look at how the Committee should go about implementing the initiative. A roadmap for the initiative was put together identifying activities and timelines for the actions with the aim of presenting them at the Bangalore R10 PES Chapter Chairs meeting in November 2013.

The questions in the survey targeted the need and also peculiar ways in which the program can be implemented in different countries. The Committee wanted to know if a shortfall in the power engineering profession was felt in each country in the region, the likelihood of success for such a program to attract top performing students, the possibility of securing funding through donations, the difficulty of securing work experience for students, the level of support of such a program by universities in each country, the availability of similar programs, eligibility requirements, level of required funding and also the specific goal(s) of the initiative for each country.

The R10 PES Meeting in Bangalore spent countless hours brainstorming on the idea, covering the goal of the program in Region 10, and the US experience as well as what had been done in other regions thus far. It also focused on presenting the view of the R10 committee members and the survey conducted. Discussions were held on setting the objective for R10, roadmap, sponsors, funding levels, funding arrangements, committee member contributions, setting selection criteria, identifying student commitments, work experience opportunities, scholarship administration process, partner universities and businesses, selection and renewal, evaluation and monitoring progress, etc. One of the other targets of the Bangalore meeting was to establish country-specific needs and opportunities. The Committee aimed to understand the distinctions between the countries in the region and what specific considerations were required and to gauge the committee members’ views on the implementation. Agreements were reached on finalizing the contributions from each member, assigning roles and responsibilities and the steps forward.

The following issues were identified for Power Engineering profession in Region 10, some of which were country-specific and others of a general nature:

  • Power Engineers in India paid less compared with software engineers, and work in remote areas, which is less attractive for outstanding students.
  • Different types of educational requirements and university accreditation levels in Engineering.
  • Power major common in some countries such as Indonesia & Australia.
  • Current decline in industry intake of power engineers in Australia and New Zealand.

Three sub-committees were formed based on region and structural similarities during the meeting to take the initiative forward. These included:

  • Sub-Committee 1 : India, Bangladesh and Pakistan
  • Sub-Committee 2 : Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand
  • Sub-Committee 3 : Australia, New Zealand and Singapore

Following conclusions were reached at the Bangalore meeting:

  • Funds raised in various countries in the region will stay within the countries rather than with Region 10
  • Scholarship funds will be paid to universities as opposed to individuals
  • One model will not fit all the countries in Region 10

Post-meeting feedback was received from the members regarding specific challenges in different countries. Recommendations drawn from the discussions were:

  • The approach for Region 10 needs to be specific to different countries in the region. (While some countries are concerned with retention of Power Engineering students, other countries target high performing students.)
  • Allocate a level of funding between $4,000 to $7,000 per student to countries in Region 10.
  • Apply the general eligibility requirement for North America to countries in Region 10.
  • Initiate a pilot program in 2015.

The Region 10 PES Chapter Chairs meeting held on 19th May 2014 in Kuala Lumpur provided another opportunity to discuss implementation and move the initiative forward. China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Korea and Japan were also included under another sub-committee with one of the chapter representatives (CR) helming the efforts. Currently there are plans in each sub-region/sub-committee for the implementation of the program and actions are monitored against the Implementation Plans.