NASA competition winning team denied US visas

Hitlar A Halim and Nazmul Huda
Published : 11:45, Jul 26, 2019 | Updated : 19:16, Jul 26, 2019

The members of the winning team 'Alik' in Bangladesh.The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) space apps competition was arranged in the country with team 'Alik' of Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST) emerging the champions in Bangladesh. The final stage of the competition was held at the Kennedy Space Centre on Jul 21 and 22 but the winners from Bangladesh were not given visas by the US embassy. Though the students were carrying recommendation papers from the ICT section of the foreign ministry, they were not given visas on the ground that since they are students they may not come back to the country.
While the students were refused by the embassy, officials of the ICT department got visas, who went to the USA. The students of 'Alik' took part via video conference.
The competition in the country was arranged by Bangladesh Association of Software and Services (BASIS). Its convener Didarul Alam Sunny and joint convener Ariful Hassan Opu had visas so they went to USA at the government’s cost.
The government team included: deputy secretaries of the ICT department, Salma Siddika Mahtab and Md. Abul Khair, Didarul Alam, deputy director of Sheikh Kamal IT Training and Incubator Centre, deputy secretary of Skill Developlment for Mobile Games and Applications, Md Abdul Hye and others.
Three members of BASIS were also rejected visa. It’s known that the government team took part in two meetings with NASA authority. In one of the meetings, proposal was made to make Bangladesh the host country.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). File Photo/Hitlar A HalimThe members of the winning team 'Alik' in Bangladesh, are: Assistant Professor of CSE Bishwapriyo Chatterjee, Sabbir Ahmed, Kazi Mainul Islam, Abu Sabik Mehedi and Rafi Adnan of SUST.
Sabbir said: “After being refused the first time we came to know of a new appointment date for Jul 23 but did not apply because double rejection would have black listed our names.”
Saying it’s unfortunate that they could not go to NASA, he said: “This is our failure; if we went we could have learnt something.”
We want to enrich virtual reality in and outside the country and, for this, need government support, he added.
Joint convener of the NASA space apps challenge, Ariful Hassan Opu, said: “We raised four issues to NASA: 1. Allowing five leading teams to get long term research facility, 2. Support of NASA to IP register and commercialise the projects, 3. Maintaining NASA’s technical assistance to top 120 teams apart from the first five and 4. To request NASA to select Bangladesh as a host country for the main stage of the completion."