U.P. Alumni Engineers Through The Years

The Beginnings

The U.P. Alumni Engineers was organized in 1947, spearheaded by H.R. Reyes, E.P. Angeles Sr., C.M. Concio Sr., Tony Albert, Jesus Perlas Sr., Antonio Lota, Santiago R. Cruz, Johnny Schlobohm, and Antonio C. Kayanan. Although only a handful of people showed up at the Manila Hotel for the first alumni reunion, the event laid the foundation for future meetings to get the goals of the group clarified and its activities started.

One of its first projects was to rehabilitate the engineering library. Books were solicited from alumni and friends, as the pre-war library was totally destroyed. In 1949, the UPAE was able to donate a sizeable number of books, which according to the librarian at the time, was the first “big boost in the collection”. In 1953 Dean R.H. Reyes was able to bring a number of crates of books gifted from abroad. It was also during this time that semi-annual seminars were conducted.

In 1956, the UPAE donated a piano to the college for the use of the glee club called Engineering Sing. The Sundial project commenced in 1958. It involved putting up, on the west side of the building façade, a steel sundial structure with its gnomon in the shape of a slide rule. This was unfortunately destroyed by super typhoon Yoling that devastated Luzon in 1970.

Into the 60’s

The year 1959 marked preparations for the Golden Jubilee celebration of the college. On June 12, 1960, a motorcade from the old engineering building in Ermita made its way to Diliman. The Engineering Flag was hoisted amidst a fireworks display. The riotous program was convened at the newly completed General Purpose Pilot Plant Building. It also marked the publication of the first Alumni Directory.

In the same year, construction started on the Alumni Center located on the deck terrace above the wing connecting the main building with the hydraulics laboratory. The completed Engineering Alumni Center was presented to the University during the 1962 homecoming.

On April 6, 1963, the engineering building was formally named Melchor Hall in honor of Alejandro S. Melchor, scientist, soldier, and former professor and secretary of the college. Unveiling of the bronze plaque set on the sheltered wall of the portico in the presence of UP President C.P. Romulo marked this event. It was during this reunion that the UPAE presented Citation of Merit awards to outstanding alumni. In 1964, through the auspices of the UPAE, the Engineering Smoker was revived after a ten-year hiatus.

After obtaining permission to build the U.P. Alumni Engineers Building, UPAE held cornerstone-laying rites during the 1964 homecoming. The next year was spent raising funds for building construction. The edifice was completed in 1966 and inaugurated in 1967. It was turned over to the University, the first university building to be built by an alumni group.

When the UP Alumni Association constructed the Alumni Center Complex in 1967, UPAE built its UPAE room as requested. A subsequent project was the installation of the tall lamplights at the entrance of Melchor Hall.

On to the 70’s till the 90’s

In 1971, a project to reconstruct the original Sundial damaged by Typhoon Yoling was launched. The cornerstone was laid and a concrete structure now stands at the front of the Transport Training Center (now NCTS) along Apacible Street.

The Life Membership drive was started in 1972 during the presidency of F.F. Cruz. As originally stipulated, a bronze plaque listing down the first five hundred members will be put up on the wall of the U.P. Alumni Engineers Building. Since 1977, the UPAE has presented golden medallions to Golden Jubilarians as token of their service as engineers for 50 years since graduation.

In the same period, UPAE, spearheaded by the class of 1939, is Operation Comfort to rehabilitate and repair the comfort rooms of Melchor Hall under the able supervision of Merlinda Mariano-Armeña, CE ’58. It has also since then published a Yearbook and a Directory.

Other projects completed in the 70’s include furnishing of the student lounge in 1970, a summer employment project in 1976, and the senior seminar/lecture series, which has been on-going since 1978. During the incumbency of Efren H. Sison, CE’68, the UPAE undertook the installation of a water reservoir on top of the building for supplying water to the various comfort rooms.

In celebration of the Engineering Diamond Jubilee in 1985, the UPAE took a leading role in the preparation of the various activities including publication of the coffee table book, 75 Years of Service to Philippine Engineering. In the same year, “Project Alaala” was launched, whereby engineering alumni and friends can donate/bequeath even small amounts of money or materials such as books and laboratory equipment to the College. Assisted by UPAE, the Engineering Manufacturing Linkage Program was launched. Its prime mover was Filemon T. Berba Jr., EE’59, who led activities in setting up the mechanics for industry-academe collaboration involving summer training of students in factories, as well as factory visits and field trips as part of student course work.

The UPAE conducted fund drives for the purpose of assistance to the College-Wide LAN Project and air-conditioning units for the rehabilitated engineering theater. Other activities carried out included holding a conference on “The Critical Challenges of the 90’s”, fund raising for faculty development outlined in the brochure entitled, “To Hone the Cutting Edge”, and undertaking “Roadshow”, wherein members of the UPAE Board visited UP engineering alumni in their place of work, to inform alumni on what UPAE is doing to assist in the operation of the college and solicit help from these alumni. The 1996 homecoming was highlighted by a conference held at the EDSA Plaza Hotel on the theme “Engineering the Philippines for the 21st Century.” Main speakers were DPWH Secretary Gregorio Vigilar, DTI Secretary Cesar Bautista, DOST Undersecretary Estrella Alabastro and Dean Reynaldo Vea.

Enter the Y2K

In 2006, the renovation of the new UPAE office at the ground floor of the National Engineering Center was undertaken. In the same year, its first annual raffle draw was able to hit the 10 million peso target for use in modernizing teaching facilities of the College. Part of the funds were spent on the latest multimedia equipment. Along with other donations, classroom environment were renovated to facilitate learning. Homecoming 2006 attracted a record 600 attendees and was the first event to be webcast live for alumni who cannot make it to the event.

In the succeeding year, a second raffle draw was held to support the Faculty Retention Program of the College. Then UPAE President Antonio Herrera joined COE Dean Rowena Guevara in a very successful fund-raising stint among alumni based in the US. It was also in this year that UPAE, with the Philippine Recyclers, Inc. (PRI) launched the Balik Baterya Program. The UPAE solicited old car batteries from donors in return for cash from PRI. The Sundial was also given its much-needed facelift through alumnus Olan Dimaano, whose company, Konstruktura, did the painting job.

The year 2008 marked the inauguration of the New Engineering Library and the Computer Science Building. The latter was named the UP Alumni Engineers Centennial Hall in recognition of the UPAE’s generous support of the College. In 2009, UPAE had its first exhibit, “Ibang KlasEngg Networking”, which promoted the UPAE sponsors’ offerings and career opportunities available for alumni. December 2009 was memorable in gathering alumni to participate in the festive UP Lantern Parade.

The College of Engineering celebrated its 100th year in 2010. In cooperation with the College, UPAE lined up several activities for the year: fun-run, the unveiling of Ekot Jeep and motorcade, Retro Engg Week, Faculty vs. Alumni Exhibition Basketball, UPAE Golf Cup, culminating in the awarding of the 100 Outstanding Alumni Engineers. In 2011, UPAE turned over funds for the Professorial Chair project of the College. At this time, the UPAE started establishing linkages with alumni groups for the more organized mobilization of resources and expertise. In the following year, UPAE exerted efforts at expanding its member base and enticing alumni to be lifetime members. It has also reactivated its quarterly publication, the Sundial and explored the benefits of social media.

The 2013 UPAE Golf Cup continued to provide a venue for camaraderie and sportsmanship among alumni while raising funds for the college. It was in this year that a free entrance to the UPAE homecoming was tried. For 2014, another successful homecoming was held, capping the year’s golf tournament in cooperation with Beta Epsilon and UP Barkada. The 2015 Board meanwhile, is launching its financial assistance program for needy Engineering students.

Conclusion

Thus, over the years, The U.P. Alumni Engineers has remained true to the aims that the original founders had for the organization. It has responded ably to the needs of the College in order for it to retain its stature as a premier School of Engineering in the Philippines, has brought together alumni through its various activities, recognized alumni who have been of service to the private and public sector, all along never ceasing to provide a venue by which alumni can be of service to the College, to its students, and to the country in general.