Memorial professors reach out to the world
Drs. James Sharp and Leonard Lye of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science spend a
lot of their time on southeast Asian islands, soaking up the sun, surf and sand. Through
family and friends, newspaper ads and colleagues worldwide, the two professors have made a
career out of teaching around the globe in a number of glamourous but often challenging
locations, including Malawi, Brunei, the Phillippines, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and
Indonesia. "The opportunity to go to a different culture and instead of going as a tourist
where you just see the gloss, you live there for four months, you live the way the local
people live and become friendly with the local people - it's just a fascinating experience,"
said Dr. Sharp. "Food, food, food," Dr. Lye said. "To like traveling to these places you
have to be adventurous about food."
Most recently, Drs. Sharp and Lye were invited to the International Advisory Committee for
the second World Engineering Congress, to be held in Kuching, Sarawak, in 2002. The
appointments recognize the considerable background both have cultivated as consultants and
advisors to the region - Dr. Sharp as a visiting professor and external examiner to several
universities and Dr. Lye as the project leader of Memorial's graduate program in water
resources for Indonesian engineers.
Of course, water is a big topic in Indonesia, as in Malaysia, from where Dr. Lye originally
hails. The rainy season renders umbrellas useless. "There are two seasons, the wet season
and the very wet season," Dr. Sharpe exclaimed. Dr. Lye agrees. He tells about the time he
was teaching at a temporary campus facility with a tin roof. "It's so loud you can't hear
anything. You can't hear yourself teaching at all, you just have to stop and wait." And,
because of that rain, Southeast Asia is the land of the rainforest, home to 2,000 different
types of trees and 800 kinds of orchids. Elephants, rhinos, leopards and orangutans roam the
land. "Actually, when I was there last a young boy was grabbed by a tiger," Dr. Sharp
But it's not all fun and sun - classes often run six days a week, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
What's more, the professors said a lack of knowledge about the quality of other educational
institutions worldwide can contribute to obstacles facing international graduate students.
"I'm an external examiner for the University of Malaya, and I would say that the standard in
many Asian universities, such as the ones in Hong Kong and Singapore, is quite reasonable,"
said Dr. Sharp. "Whether the country itself is developed or underdeveloped, you're still
dealing with extremely bright capable students who want to learn." "Actually, one of the
main goals of our program in Indonesia is to train engineers how to deal with foreign
consultants so they can deal with them one-on-one, and hold their own ground," added Dr.
Both professors see a great deal of potential, not only in their international students,
but in Memorial's ability to become a provider of choice for overseas engineering students.
"Newfoundland and Labrador has a lot in common with many regions worldwide," Dr. Sharp
explained, "in terms of having small communities, often underfunded, far from the big
centres. We have to provide systems here which fit what we've got here, and the same is true
overseas." Dr. Lye sees Brunei as a great place for MUN recruitment efforts. "It's similar
to the Middle East in that the kids of ex-pats working in oil and gas have to go overseas
for education, so they have to go overseas, and they have the money." "It's so great to be
in a different environment," Dr. Lye said, "It's about being in a different university
setting, governed by different rules and it's about teaching students who are eager to come
© Copyright 2002 Memorial University of Newfoundland
Memorial in the International Community
North Atlantic Forum 2000 - an initiative of the North Atlantic Islands Program - was the second in a series of international forums examining innovative approaches to economic development at the community, regional and national levels around the North Atlantic Rim. Held Sept. 24-27 at Marble Mountain lodge on Newfoundland's west coast, it brought together government, labour, business, and educational stakeholders from the Åland Islands, Bermuda, Canada, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Malta, Scotland and Sweden. Co-hosted by the College of the North Atlantic and Memorial University in partnership with the Newfoundland and Labrador Federations of Municipalities and Labour and the federal and provincial governments, the event gave those countries sharing similar challenges an opportunity to share ideas and successes. More than 300 delegates attended the forum, entitled Opportunities and Action in a Knowledge-driven Economy: New Lessons from the Edge.
With assistance from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Memorial has been working with developing country universities to enhance their research, curriculum and community outreach abilities. During the year Memorial finished three long-term projects in Brazil, Kenya and Tanzania, all involving expertise in fisheries and marine science. Work continues on projects in Chile (nursing/women's studies), Brazil (aquaculture), Vietnam and Indonesia (nursing/nursing social work).
In June Dr. Sudhir Saha, professor of organizational behavior, Faculty of Business Administration, visited Bangladesh and Nepal to conduct faculty workshops for business professors and senior government officials. As part of the Canadian International Development Agency-funded project, NETWORKS, the Canadian Consortium of Management Schools sponsors numerous such projects in developing countries around the world. Dr. Saha held a three-day strategic planning seminar for the Association of Management Development Institutions of Bangladesh in Dhaka.