"You do not work on Fridays, Hayat! I have heard you say so in a television programme," renowned actor Abul Hayat recalls Professor Jamilur Reza Choudhury once saying this laughingly.
"Sir and I, we often talked, and this particular event shows how closely he would follow you, be you a student of BUET or an alumni of the civil engineering department," Abul Hayat recounts.
National Professor Dr Jamilur Reza Choudhury died in Dhaka today morning at the age of 77. A brilliant mind and an exceptional human being, in his lifetime he achieved numerous awards, including Ekushey Padak in 2017.
Professor Choudhury earned his Bachelor of Science Degree (Civil Engineering) from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) in 1963. Upon graduation from BUET, he became a lecturer in the Civil Engineering Department the same year.
He was also appointed an adviser to the caretaker government in April, 1996 and was in charge of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources and the Ministry of Water Resources.
"Professor Jamilur Reza Choudhury was a pioneer of civil engineering in Bangladesh and it is an irreparable loss for us that we have lost him. When I entered the civil engineering department of BUET, he was unbelievably popular back then as well. But unfortunately I did not get a chance to learn from him as he went abroad for higher studies. But he was more than a brother and a teacher to me," adds Abul Hayat in memory of the departed soul.
Professor Choudhury was an exceptional human being, always a helping hand for his colleagues.
Dr M Kaykobad, who has been arranging Bangladesh Mathematical Olympiad for over a decade, says, "We have been arranging the Olympiad for a very long time in Bangladesh and Professor Jamilur was with us from the very beginning. Arranging the Olympiad, we always felt relaxed because we knew Professor Jamilur was there and he would take care of any problem that might crop up. Recently, we also started Blockchain Olympiad Bangladesh and he was one of our advisors as well."
Professor Kaykobad also adds that Professor Choudhury always inspired his students and colleagues. "I used to do many programming competitions and he was aware of that. Back in 1998, when we went to the USA for the first time to attend a programming competition, we thought we would do great. But we ended up being the 24th in the competition. We were all heartbroken and we received a call from him. He told us not to worry. We competed again at Stamford University and he was overwhelmed with what we achieved. Also, it is only because of him the finale of world programming championship competition is scheduled to take place in Bangladesh in 2021," he says.
He was also highly meritorious and a renowned person in the international community. He received numerous awards during his illustrious career. Back in October 2010, he was awarded the Doctor of Engineering (Honoris Causa) degree by Manchester University. He was also a Fellow of Institution of Civil Engineers (UK).
Professor Dr Shamim Z Bosunia, once a colleague of Professor Chowdhury at BUET, also shared an interesting story about his popularity.
"When I went abroad to complete my PhD in 1976, I once booked an appointment with his supervisor. Instead of asking me how I was doing and what my name was, he directly asked me how Jamil Choudhury was!" he relates.
Renowned Bangladeshi architect FR Khan also asked Professor Chowdhury to work with him. But instead of doing so, professor Chowdhury stayed back in Bangladesh and it was out of his love for his motherland.
He has also taken Bangladesh's engineering community to an exceptional position. According to Professor Bosunia, now engineers from Bangladesh can apply worldwide for jobs and Professor Choudhury played a major role to make this happen.
May his soul rest in peace.