University awards honorary degrees

Jordana Diengdoh Pavel was awarded an honorary degree by the University on Tuesday 12 April

Aston University celebrated the achievements of its postgraduate students on Tuesday 12 April, with two graduation ceremonies held in the splendid surroundings of Birmingham Town Hall.

Over 600 students, their families and friends joined the celebrations where the University also presented two honorary degrees to Jordana Diengdoh Pavel and Maurice Perks.

Jordana Diengdoh was born in Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya, India. She studied at St. Mary’s School, Shillong and graduated from the Guwahati University, Assam.

She started her career with the Indian Railways Traffic Service where she served from 1975 to 1978. She was the first woman in India to have joined this male preserved Service. In 1979 she joined the Indian Foreign Service. As a career diplomat she has served in the following Indian Missions abroad: Ambassador of India to Ethiopia (2002 to 2005); Ambassador of India accredited to Djibouti (2002 to 2005); Representative of India to the African Union, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (2005); Consul General of India, Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation (2005 to 2007); Consul General of India, Birmingham (2007-2009); Deputy High Commissioner, High Commission of India, Canberra, Australia (1998 to 2002); Deputy High Commissioner, High Commission of India, Harare, Zimbabwe (1995 to 1998). She has also served in Spain, Romania, Bangladesh and Germany.

Jordana is married to Nicolae Pavel and they have one daughter. She belongs to the Khasi matriarchal and matrilineal society.

Her hobbies include painting, reading, writing, trekking. During her tenure in Africa, Jordana took part in charity activities and enthusiastically participated in the Great Ethiopian Run (Africa’s biggest annual marathon) in 2002, 2003 and 2004 where she finished 2nd and 3rd among accredited Ambassadors who participated in the run. She has also published a book of poems and paintings in India, some of which have been published in Russian magazines.

Maurice Perks has been awarded an honorary degree by Aston University

Maurice Perks was born and schooled in Kidderminster and graduated in Physics from Aston University in the late 1960s. He joined IBM as a systems engineer and worked with many of the large industrial enterprises across the Midland and in the USA.

For over 40 years he has been involved with complex design challenges of hardware, software and most of all, IT systems for large enterprises. He is a world authority on the development of such systems across several industry sectors and his design signature can be found in many of the commercial systems that we use today.

Maurice is a recognised methodologist on how complex IT systems can be designed and modified and is currently working on a new way of assessing and defining how the complexity of modern IT systems can be understood. Many of today’s large IT systems are now mature and their importance to our business and social lives has increased to the extent that changes to them must be executed with great precision if the service that they provide is to be uninterrupted. Maurice is always looking at this challenge.

His expertise and skills were recognised by IBM when in 2002 he became the first IBM Fellow to be appointed from IBM’s service division. Since 1963, only just over 200 IBM Fellows have been appointed from IBM’s 200,000 technical workforce. Today there are around 75 IBM Fellows working globally.

Maurice mentors many IT professionals and is always in demand to make speeches at conferences. He is a Fellow of the British Computer Society, a Fellow of the Institute of Engineering and Technology and a Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor of IT Integration at the University of York.

Words by Louise Russell
14 April 2011