Industry linkages, economic stability

Prof Dr M Suleman Tahir

NOTHING can drive the massive industrial infrastructure without energy. Ending oil and gas age is bringing a total change by collapsing industrial economies. The inherently limited quantity of fossil fuels is going to expire by 2050-2070 and any stupid use of conventional, nuclear, biological, fuel or weather weapons cannot u turn it. Now the world has only choice among plutonium, carbon and the renewable energy sources. According to a recent survey 60% people vote for renewable and only 10% for nuclear energy. International universities and industries are in a state of war on searching new energy resources and redesigning energy efficient machinery.
We have neither a visible energy policy nor any focus on relevant science and engineering education. Like many other countries we must develop a national energy policy and prioritize it over many conventional technologies like computer and telecom engineering in most of Pakistani universities. Our education managers are widening similar technologies to increase their income ignoring how to manage energy availability after 40 years. We might have money there would not be energy sellers as none will have it. We need simultaneously applied projects to solve the community problem along with fundamental research.
HEC Pakistan replaced archaic UGC in 2002 aiming to develop modern education paradigm like developed countries. HEC offered many MS and PhD scholarships, started foreign faculty hiring program, revised curriculum of universities and regularised post-graduate programmes. Meanwhile in this era, HEC also initiated offices of research innovation and commercialization across country to facilitate and strengthen University Industry linkages. Industries in Pakistan are facing acute problem of technical support in terms of new technology adoption and quality of product at mass production level. Unfortunately, Industry do not trust on academia and prefer to open market for solution of their problems. Fan Industry in Gujrat is decelerating its exports due to non-compliance of IEC and IEEE standards. The industry failed to qualify for European or American markets. Leather industry is injecting harmful chemicals into underground aquifers of fresh water causing a major disturbance to drinking water of Sialkot and surrounding areas.
Ceramic industry of Gujrat and Gujranwala is taking their last breaths due to decreased export and use of old fashioned machinery. There are many technical universities and colleges working in rich industrial triangle of Gujrat, Gujranwala and Sialkot. Due to trust deficit of University-Industry linkage, to date no significant step has been taken to solve the industrial problems from academia. It is time for university executives and policy makers to establish an environment of trust and confidence with industry for solution of their problem through paper based assignment to university teachers. For Industry, patience and faith are looked-for sustainable development of strong relation.
To implement the idea we need to seek willingness of the local industrialists and explain them need for switching over to modern technology. Author has written a proposal of establishment of Fan Testing Laboratory with linkage of local fan industry and Govt of Punjab. The proposed lab will test and issue performance based certification under guidelines developed by Enercon with Pakistan and provide international Certifications in compliance with IEC and IEEE standards.
Economy of country is function of energy demand, research productivity, number of patents and entrepreneurship etc, Faculty at most universities is not confident of providing the technical consultation, they have high teaching loads for undergraduates. We need more pilot plants at universities (applied nature project) and at training centres for post-graduates. Policy-makers should provide resources, for effective linkage with outcome based targets and focusing on the regional development of technologies along with HR training. CPEC is great opportunity and 100s industrial sectors can be developed on the basis of raw material available along the route. Only this is the way, we may serve Pakistan and contribute to make Pakistan greater as per the vision of our beloved Quaid.
— The writer is Chairman Chemical Engineering Dept, University of Gujrat.
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