Creating a bridge between chess and STEM

Muhammad Rashid, professor and chair of the electrical engineering and computer science department at Florida Polytechnic University, and his wife, Fatema, established the Drs. Muhammad and Fatema Rashid Chess Scholarship Fund. The endowment was created to benefit Polk County students taking part in the annual Polk Scholastic Chess tournament.

Dr. Muhammad Rashid compares higher education to what a blank piece of paper looks like after you hand it to an artist with a pen. For most of his life, the Florida Polytechnic University professor has marveled at how pursuing a degree can begin transforming a student from the time he or she first steps on a college campus. He’s also made it a priority to take an active role in providing opportunities through scholarships.

Recently, Rashid and his wife, Fatema, established the Drs. Muhammad and Fatema Rashid Chess Scholarship Fund. It’s an endowed scholarship that will provide Polk County students the opportunity to obtain a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics degree at Florida Poly.

The Rashids’ daughter, Dr. Faeza Kazmier, is a member of the Polk County Scholastic Chess Board, a non-profit organization that has sponsored an annual chess tournament for hundreds of Polk County students for more than 25 years. The 2018-19 tournament began in October and runs through May. Its goal is to encourage academic growth through the game of chess, and it’s what gave the Rashids the idea to make a difference for future Florida Poly students.

“I want to give back. I want the future students to continue to play chess and become role models,” said Rashid. “I also want to encourage them, see them become successful and hopefully help someone else in the future, whether it’s financially or intellectually.”

He and his wife, Fatema, have been married for 48 years, have three children, and seven grandchildren. Their journey together began in Bangladesh and has taken them around the world as he built a decorated career in academia. In January 2017, after spending 20 years at the University of West Florida as a professor of electrical engineering, Rashid took on a similar role at Florida Poly as the chair of the electrical engineering and computer engineering department.

“I want to see people get educated. This is very important to me,” said Rashid, who established two endowed scholarships while at West Florida. “I came to this country because I thought it was a great country. The future and dreams of my grandchildren depend on the education of today’s college students. My dream depends on their dream.”

Lydia Guzman
Assistant Director of Communications

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