Research and training for Pakistan’s energy sector by forging int’l alliances

Staff Reporter

Islamabad —Development in Pakistan remains constrained by an ongoing energy crisis that is deeply connected with the country’s security challenges and ever growing demand for power. Over the past few years, chronic energy shortages have cost Pakistan up to 4% of GDP downfall.
The launch of U.S.-Pakistan Center for Advanced Studies in Energy at National University of Sciences and Technology (USPCAS-E) by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in collaboration with the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and Arizona State University (ASU) is an effort to fulfill this pressing national need. This partnership builds on existing talent in Pakistan by providing university faculty with exposure to new technology and an opportunity to collaborate with other experts in their fields.
Mr. Akif Zia Khan, faculty member at USPCAS-E, NUST, who specializes in Smart Grids technology, visited Arizona State University (ASU) from January through March of this year to attend a series of meetings on curriculum, lab equipment, and applied research projects with peer faculty and fellow researchers at the Power Systems Research Center (PSERC). His collaborative work with Dr. George Karaday of PSERC during his stay at ASU is now playing an instrumental role in developing new curriculum and availability of modern power hardware in the loop smart grids laboratory for Electrical Energy Engineering Program at USPCAS-E at NUST.
Dr. Naseem Iqbal, Assistant Professor at USPCAS-E, NUST, who specializes in fuel cells technology, visited ASU under the same exchange program. Dr. Iqbal worked with a research group at the Polytechnic School, ASU, led by Professor A. M. Kannan, a renowned expert in fuel cell technology. During his visit, Dr. Iqbal utilized the resources around him to catapult his research forward. “The main bottle neck in the fuel cell development is the Platinum metal loading on catalyst which increases the overall cost for this technology.
This exchange program has forged an important research collaboration between ASU and NUST that will cultivate a stronger research culture among Pakistan’s academics and assist university faculty to execute applied research projects. These research projects will address some of the most pressing energy concerns facing Pakistan today. Faculty and students at NUST are geared to undertake projects for efficient energy storage and electro-chemical reduction of CO2 for converting CO2 into useful chemicals for improved environment.
The U.S.-Pakistan Center for Advanced Studies in Energy initiative is part of USAID’s larger US $127 million investment in collaboration with Higher Education Commission (HEC) that will harness applied research to find innovative and practical solution for Pakistan’s energy, water, agriculture, and food security challenges. USPCAS-E is designed to support Pakistan’s economic development by strengthening the relevance and responsiveness of universities products, including applied and policy research and skilled graduates, to the needs of the public and private sector. In conjunction with academic research, USPCAS-E lays emphasis on practical, solution-based, industry-specific research and development, both for the training and development of students, and for providing support to the Pakistani university. Currently offering graduate and post graduate program in Energy Systems Engineering and graduate program in Electrical Energy and Thermal Energy Engineering, USPCAS-E is training graduates that will work towards resolving many of the country’s energy related challenges and innovate to find efficient, clean, and sustainable energy options.

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