Just a year after the tragic garment factory collapse that killed 1,127 workers in central Bangladesh, recent graduate T. Adil Chowdhury is coordinating a public-private partnership to train 2,000 factory managers each year in sustainable, safe manufacturing, including building safety.

“We are focusing on the ready-made garment industry because of its urgent need,” said Chowdhury, who joined the nonprofit Institute for Sustainable Communities in early 2013. “We have partnered with a local institution, North South University, and have participation from multinational brands, governments, and industry leaders.”

Chowdhury, the institute’s Bangladesh director, said the country’s first Environment, Health and Safety Training Center (EHS+ Center) will begin training in safety, sustainable energy, and environmental compliance later this year.

T.Adil Chowdhury

“Both subject matter expertise and leadership are key to my position,” said Chowdhury, a 2012 graduate of the college’s Executive Master of Natural Resources (XMNR) program, based in the National Capital Region. “Having gone through program modules on international sustainability challenges, I developed a wider perspective in assessing social, economic, and environmental dimensions of the multidisciplinary issues we face in the world today.”

Chowdhury, originally from Bangladesh, attended high school in India and spent 14 years studying and working in the environmental field in the United States. He earned a bachelor’s in environmental engineering from Michigan Tech and is a licensed professional engineer. After seven years as an environmental consultant in petroleum impact remediation, he felt drawn to interdisciplinary, multicultural work on sustainability issues.

In the XMNR program, Chowdhury assessed sustainability research opportunities in Goa, India, focusing on sustainable tourism and participated in the class capstone project developing sustainability and business plans for a boutique hotel in China. He first learned of his future employer during an energy efficiency project lecture given by an institute board member.

“I began following the Institute for Sustainable Communities’ work on building capacity among those who champion community values,” Chowdhury said. “The institute also gave me the opportunity to give back to Bangladesh.”

[This story was originally published by Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources & Environment in the Fall 2014 issue of the NewsMagazine]