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Nust: The Future Bringing Today – Daily Times

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A public research university under the administration of Pakistan’s Armed Forces. The National University of Sciences & Technology (NUST) with its main campus in Islamabad, Pakistan was founded in 1991. Initially formed for the need by combining engineering colleges and schools of Pakistan Armed Forces, for the commissioned officers. Later, it was later converted into a public research university with the main campus setup in Islamabad to promote science and technology. Today NUST is a comprehensive civil-military collaboration platform comprising 19 constituent institutions (including five military colleges) spread over seven campuses across five cities of Pakistan – Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Risalpur, Karachi and Quetta, a truly national university across in all four provinces of the country.

NUST adopted an American university model and stressed laboratory instruction in applied science and engineering. The university offers undergraduate and graduate degrees, including doctoral and professional degrees. From a wilderness at the fringes of Islamabad, the main campus is situated in sector H-12,a tailor-made amalgam of nature and nurture – housing a plethora of faculties, state-of-the-art research facilities and platforms inspiring innovation & entrepreneurship, and offering a serene and conducive learning environment, complemented by all-inclusive campus life.

Merit is the only criterion for admission at NUST, he acceptance rate of 4% that tells about the high number of applicants this university can chose its students from a pool of most talented young people from across the country. More than 60% of the student intake that qualifies comes from the lower and lower-middle income grouping. NUST maintaining an affordable fee structure to promote inclusivity, and also has a robust need-based scholarship programme to support financially challenged students. Young people from the lower income strata often face difficulties when seeking admission in higher educational institutions. ProvidingEqual opportunity allows NUST to helps to bridge the social gap dividing our society.

Expertise from a wide variety of sources from within/outside the country in order to boost its academic and research activities helps NUST create a deeper impact on the world of science and technology

Consider the growing number of female students that are earning degrees in technical and science programs. Engineering is still a male-dominant professional world even in the West; female candidates are few. Considering it be a tough and demanding field. There is a myth that strength is only for males and that girls can’t handle the practical side of engineering. But science different in intellect between the sexes. The differences that exist are learned as a result of what society deems males and females should be/do. These social constructs are deeply disturbing but we should concentrate on the passion and abilities of the person in question. These barriers have been overcome by growing number of exceptional women studying engineering at the NUST Pakistan Navy Engineering College (PNEC) in the heart of Karachi, and other divisions of the diverse institutes of NUST. By giving bright girls and young women a chance to develop technical and science skills NUST serves the socio-economic needs of Pakistan and the UN Sustainable Development Goals to which this university subscribes. Normally, girls are in the minority in the engineering classes. It is usual for them to feel out of place and theyface tough time settling in. However a growing number has already succeeded and will succeed in future.

Over the years, the quality of education and research at NUST has grown which is manifest in the quality of its undergraduate and post-graduate programmes in a range of disciplines well.All the 19 engineering programmesaccredited under the Washington Accord. New institutions are added to the profile; out of the four National Centres of Excellence established by the Government of Pakistan in leading higher educational institutions of Pakistan, two were awarded, after an open and rigorous competition, to NUST. Those are the National Centre of Artificial Intelligence (NCAI) and the National Centre of Probiotics& Automation (NCRA) which will contribute to Pakistan’s march into the 21st century.

Education and research in NUST is connected to the needs of Pakistan’s industries. NUST has produced Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) with 711 patents filed and 123 awarded (more than 80% of these in last two years). In addition to this, NUST also happens to be the only higher educational institution in Pakistan to have transferred technology to the industry; in the past three years alone, 13 technologies have been transferred to respective industries. Accounting for a total of 36 Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs), these technologies have been impacting import substitutions and industrial innovation across multiple fields like health, telecommunication, manufacturing, etc. This transfer of intellectual work from universities to industry forms the basis of a knowledge-driven economy.

Amongst the numerous firsts ascribed to NUST is the inauguration of Pakistan’s first Science & Technology Park – the National Science & Technology Park (NSTP) at NUST’s Islamabad campus, which was inaugurated by PM Imran Khan in December 2019. Essentially brought together industry and academia to work in close synergy the Park create a national research and innovation ecosystem, adding value to the technological index of Pakistan. An impressive number of national and international companies, have already joined the innovation ecosystem as tenants, while others are aspiring to.

There are many pioneering initiatives to its credit – like Pakistani academia’s first Technology Incubation Centre (established in 2005 and renamed to TechOne in 2019) to promote entrepreneurship, first Intellectual Property Office to protect innovation, first-ever technology transfers to the local industry to fuel indigenisation and high-tech manufacturing, first university-based think tank (NUST Institute of Policy Studies – NIPS), first production facility for cardiac stents and other medical devices at a fraction of cost of the imported devices, and much more – NUST is well-poised to become a regional hub of higher education and innovation.

During the trying time of the Covis-19 pandemic scientists at NUST. Atta-ur-Rahman School of Applied Biosciences (ASAB) has indigenously established robust, target-sensitive and cost-effective Molecular Diagnostic Assays for the detection of Novel Coronavirus. Considering that COVID-19 may prolong or recur in future, these indigenously developed cost-effective kits named N-CovKit, will, Insha Allah, give boost to efforts for the detection of virus in minimum time.

Scientists at NUST College of Electrical & Mechanical Engineering (CEME) have also indigenously developed unmanned ground vehicles named N-Rover, and assembled and deployed aerial systems named Aero-N for decontamination of open and closed spaces. These systems fight the virus’s outbreak by disinfecting critically important surroundings and locations like Indoor & outdoor quarantine camps, hospital wards, airports, residential neighbourhoods and other public places.

The Robot Design & Development (RDD) Lab at the National Centre of Robotics & Automation (NCRA) housed at NUST CEME, has developed a bilingual (Urdu and English) screening app, which is the world’s first Urdu app for Android. The app, named COVIDCHECK PAKISTAN, was used for 8200 screenings in 9 different countries (including US, UK, UAE and Saudi Arabia) within the first 2 days of its beta rollout on March 23, 2020. And last but not least, since only alcohol-based hand sanitisers with minimum additives are effective against the Coronavirus, NUST biomedical engineers have developed N-Safe – high-quality hand sanitisers for microbial control, made according to the latest guidelines by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Center for Disease Control (CDC), USA.

Expertise from a wide variety of sources from within/outside the country in order to boost its academic and research activities helps NUST create a deeper impact on the world of science and technology. For the purpose, the University collaborates with leading international universities, professional/ research organizations, commercial ventures, talented professionals and scholars to pursue its academic and research goals. It has developed linkages with as many as 165 international universities and organizations of 35 different countries, among them multiple institutions of China, France, Germany, South Korea, Turkey and others. It runs multiple exchange programs for undergraduate and graduate students and offers access to scholarship programs for China, Germany, France and others. By taking advantage of the international connections and study opportunities NUST students broaden their experience and establish ties with young colleagues abroad and present the best part of Pakistan in the international arena.

Based on these achievements and building upon its reputation as a quality higher education institution with a strong academic and Research and Development base. “NUST has not only retained its No. 1 position in Pakistan in the discipline of Engineering and Technology, but also moved up 61 positions since last year, becoming the only Pakistani university in top 300 world universities in Engineering and Technology, as per Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) Subject Rankings 2020 released the other day”, said a press release issued here. The rather recently founded School of Social Sciences and Humanities (S3H) despite being a fairly new school, has within a short period of reached close-to-top position in Pakistan. The achievements of NUST are must be replicated in other universities of our country. Apart from international cooperation, exchange of know-how and experience with other technical universities within the country would help to create a broader base of excellence in Pakistan.

For me NUST has a personal connection, that of my unit 4 Sindh. Before he retired, Lt Gen (Retd) Naweed Zaman, HI (M), the Rector of NUST was Corps Commander, Lahore. He is the brother-in-law of Brig Moin (Shaheed) assassinated by terrorists presently in Islamabad in 2010 near Golra, very close to the NUST campus. Very much like Brig (Retd) MujhahidAlam, presently Principal of Lawrence College, Ghoragali, who has restored GG’s to its eminent status in education, lateMoin was very much COAS material. He took 4 Sindh, already a formidableinfantry unit, to new heights of professionalismand excellence.SARMAST remains”Second to None”. My pride extends to Naweed, an outstanding soldier who in is his second career hasexcelled in not only providing education par excellence through NUST but showing us how education can be organised to cope and adjust to the demands of the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”: He is a credit to the officers corps of the Pakistan Army. Pakistan can only progress on the bedrock of modern concept and standards of education, NUST has been instrumental in achieving that. For sheer excellence, NUST must act as a model for other Pakistani universities,they must emulate what Naweed and his colleagues, many of the eminent educationists and professionals in their own right, have achieved. Alongwith NUST they deserve all the plaudits one can give them.

The writer is a defence and security analyst

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