MCAST’s Institute of Engineering and Transport has officially been renamed as Juan Bautista Azopardo Building, a reference to a Maltese privateer who became a dedicated war hero in Argentina a few centuries ago.
Azopardo has an extremely interesting life story. Born in Senglea in 1772, he studied naval architecture in France and ended up becoming a privateer for the Batavian Republic (now the Netherlands), at one point capturing a British frigate with over 200 slaves onboard.
He took part in the May Revolution among the Argentinian revolutionary forces, at one point even getting jailed by the Spaniards, before returning to the South American country where he was made Harbor Master of Buenos Aires.
While Azopardo has memorials and schools named after him in Argentina, his name is less familiar in his home country, with a single bust in Senglea marking him out for his role in history.
However, 173 years after the privateer’s death, MCAST has decided to name its engineering institute in his honour, part of a rebranding exercise that included a revamp of its logo.
MCAST’s logo now includes a quill, even though the institution was set up in 2001, and the words ‘Scientia Et Labore’ (‘Through Knowledge and Work’), the same words that can be found on the coat of arms of the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa.
An engineering lecturer questioned why the educational institution chose Azopardo despite the late privateer having no connections whatsoever to engineering and having died centuries ago.
“Didn’t Malta have famous architects, engineers and scientists? Why choose a military person?” the lecturer told Lovin Malta. “It’s a symbol of the past, not the future and many lecturers are disappointed. After all, MCAST was set up in 2001, not in the 16th century.”
He also said it’s ironic that MCAST named this department after an ex-prisoner when the school itself last year fired a tradesperson, who was also studying there, because of his criminal record.
“Juan Azopardo spent time in prison and we named a building after him. However, when MCAST had a former prisoner as student he was asked to leave because of his prison record! What hypocrisy.”
MCAST didn’t respond to Lovin Malta’s questions about why it named this department after Azopardo.
Do you agree with MCAST’s decision to rename its Institute of Engineering and Transport after Azopardo?