A family connection inspired by a love of learning
North American engineering schools say at least 30 per cent of their graduates later migrate towards other fields — everything from management to law and medicine. These post-engineering career options are more than a trend, they are the new reality.
McGill Chemical Engineering alumnus S. Nimu Ganguli, BEng’85, MEng’88, is a case in point. After spending five years working for IBM after graduation, the Montreal-born engineer decided that medicine was his true calling. Today Dr. Ganguli is a specialist in Nuclear Radiology and is the Site Chief responsible for Diagnostic Medical Imaging and Nuclear Medicine at the William Osler Health Centre at Brampton Civic Hospital in Ontario.
“The skills I learned at McGill Engineering proved extremely helpful, both in medical school at the University of Toronto and now, in my career as a physician. My practice involves the use of sophisticated imaging technology for diagnostic consultations and I have the opportunity to use my McGill Engineering background and its logical approaches in computer technology. Admittedly we used punch cards back then rather than desktops, but the logic is the same.
“In fact there were several engineers in my class at med school. I guess you can say that engineering teaches you how to learn, no matter what the subject matter. My initial job at IBM also involved the application of certain engineering principles that weren’t directly related to my studies in chemical engineering, but nonetheless McGill had given me the skills to absorb what I needed to learn to succeed at IBM. Later, my familiarity with computers influenced my decision to specialize in nuclear radiology.”
Dr. Ganguli realized the power of learning an early age. His father, P.K. Ganguli, was involved in cancer research, initially at McGill after earning his PhD in India, and later, at the Université de Montréal. He died when Nimu was only 17, but the values he instilled in his son have remained strong to this day.
When Nimu decided to establish an endowment at McGill Engineering, he chose to honour his father’s memory and vision by creating the Dr. P.K. Ganguli Memorial Scholarships for outstanding second-year students in the Chemical Engineering Department.
The family connections to McGill run deep. All three of P.K. Ganguli’s sons studied here. Nimu’s oldest brother, Gora, also opted for engineering (BEng’80, MBA’90), and older brother Nitu studied management and computer science (BCom’81, MSc’87). Looking to the future, Nimu and his wife Domenica have already had discussions with their 13-year-old son, Neal, about the possibility of enrolling at McGill.
“Neal has visited the campus and likes what he sees,” Dr. Ganguli says. “He’s even wearing a McGill lapel pin on his school blazer. Obviously the final decision will be his, but I would be thrilled if he decided to follow in my, his uncles’ and his grandfather’s footsteps. McGill has a lot to offer.”
Dr. Ganguli believes passionately in the importance of alumni support for McGill’s Engineering Faculty. “Canadian universities cannot depend on government for 100 per cent of their needs. Alumni and other forms of support are essential to sufficiently broaden our universities’ resource base to improve each and every student’s educational experience.
“When I sat down with Chemical Engineering Department Chair Dimitrios Berk, we looked at different ways I might help my former department. A one-time gift was considered, but in the end I decided to give a gift that keeps on giving — a scholarship endowment for second-year students with a record of outstanding academic achievement.”
Contributing something back
With three university degrees of his own, Dr. Ganguli says it’s clear to him that the main purpose of a university education is “to give graduates the tools to meet life’s challenges — to teach young men and women how to overcome any obstacle, whatever their career choices.
“That being the case, every individual should have the opportunity to go to university if she or he so chooses, assuming of course that person has the necessary qualifications.”
Ganguli adds that “I hope that my gift will help to promote this vision by enabling exceptional students to excel even more. I also hope that my endowment will stimulate some of my classmates to consider making significant contributions of their own. Many of my former classmates have high-powered jobs that are directly related to the start they received at McGill, and I would hope they might consider contributing something back to their alma mater.”