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Article (086) : U Ba Hli

For archive (Updated on February 11, 2019)

PROFILE OF LATE SAYAGYI U BA HLI

by Dr. F. Ba Hli

Starting from about 1925 when he became an assistant lecturer in Civil Engineering at the Government Technical Institute (GTI), Insein, Burma, year after year (except for a few years during World War II when the GTI was closed and he worked as Deputy Director, Irrigation Department of Burma) he continuously taught one group of engineering students after another at GTI as Lecturer and later as Principal of the GTI.

Then in 1948, while Sayagyi U Ba Hli was the Principal, GTI, he was appointed by the University of Rangoon to be the first (Burmese national) Professor of Engineering at the B.O.C. College. From that time he began to produce batch after batch of B.Sc. (Engineering) graduates. After the B.O.C. College became the Faculty of Engineering, University of Rangoon, he was promoted to the post of Dean of Engineering. His office also was shifted to the new multi-storeyed and multicolored building on Prome Road, (now called Pyay Road).

Those of you who attended classes at this campus (before the Faculty became the Rangoon Institute of Technology at the Gyogon campus) will remember him as “a good teacher and strict administrator” as told to me by one of his former students (and now my neighbor in Sydney, Australia), Dr Norbert Saw Kuhl who got his Ph.D. in engineering from Glasgow University, Scotland.

You see, though I am his son (his only child), I never was his student so I do not know how he was as a professor of engineering. That is why I am quoting Norbert’s opinion. Norbert praised Sayagyi U Ba Hli for his part in obtaining higher education abroad for so many Burmese engineers such as

  • Saya U Kyaw Tun (E.E)
  • Prof. U Aung Khin (M.E)
  • Dr. U Aung Gyi (C.E), Rector of RIT
  • Prof. U Min Wun (C.E)
  • late Prof. U Sein Hlaing (E.E)
  • Prof. U Khin Aung Kyi (Chem.E) who later became Rector RIT
  • Chief Architect of Construction Corp U Aung Myint
  • Chief Sanitation Engineer of Rangoon Corp U Aung Kywe
  • Prof. Maung Maung Than (Textile E.)
  • Prof. U Ba Than (M.E)
  • Dr. Hla Myint (Chem. E)

and many more who went for further studies in the U.S.A, U.K. and U.S.S.R.

As the Sydney Olympics and athletics are currently the topics of interest today I will tell you something about Sayagyi U Ba Hli as an athlete. In his younger days he was very fond of gymnastics on the parallel bars. In fact, he attributed his short stature (as his brothers were all tall) to spending too much time on that sport. Later he played tennis when he was at the GTI and was a much better tennis player than me.

Finally I am glad to say that my elder son Ko Tha Hlaing got his B.E. from RIT (standing first in the Final Year EE Class with his classmate Ko Thaung Tin) and my son-in-law Ko Htay Aung also got his B.E. from RIT and stood first in his class earlier.

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