Visit to NUST by Team CASS

06 Sep 2019     Visits

 

1.         A team from Centre for Aerospace and Security Studies (CASS) led by Air Mshl Javaid Ahmed (Retd) and AVM Sohail Malik (Retd) visited NUST on 11th April, 2019. The primary aim of the visit was to learn and assess contribution of National Centre for Artificial Intelligence (NCAI) to the development and advancement of the field of artificial intelligence in Pakistan. The composition of the CASS team and the visit programme are attached as Appendix ‘A’ and ‘B’ respectively.

2.         Upon arrival at NUST, the team was welcomed by pro-rector of the university and ushered to the main office building. The rector convened a brief meeting with CASS directors. In the meeting the two teams explored future avenues of collaboration and exchanged souvenirs. The NUST management expressed interest in continued interaction with CASS on issues pertaining to aerospace, security and other areas of mutual interest. The rector offered the support of NUST faculty in delivering lectures and briefs on emerging technologies to benefit research being carried out at CASS. In this regard NUST management is keen to sign an MOU to facilitate collaboration with CASS.

3.         After the meeting, a briefing session about NUST in general and NCAI is particular was organized. The notable participants of the meeting from NUST included Principal of Research Centre for Microwave and Millimetre Wave Studies (RIMMS), principal of School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering (SMME), Principal of School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (SEECS), Registrar and director of Quality Assurance (QA).

4.         The meeting was divided into three parts; overview of NUST and its contributions (Appendix ‘C’), introduction to NCAI lab in NUST (Appendix ‘D’), and question and answer session. During the first part of the session Ms. Zainab Qadir shed light on achievements of NUST in the last decade, and emphasized on the high number of students who graduate from the university every year in diverse academic fields. She also elaborated on Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) ranking of NUST which stands at 437th in the world among the first 500 universities of the world. Furthermore, NUST has also risen to prominence as per the latest QS Top 50 under 50 ranking announced on 13th July, 2017.

5.         In the latter part of the session Dr. Yasar Ayaz, head of department of Robotics and Intelligent Machine Learning elaborated on different projects being undertaken under his supervision in the domain of artificial intelligence. These included, intelligent wheel, prosthetic hand and hand exoskeleton project. He also highlighted the fact that NUST is among the six universities that have been selected to work with NCAI, through a competitive evaluation process developed by Planning Commission of Pakistan and Higher Education Commission, to identify labs and principal investigators that can ensure competitive research in the field.  The five other universities that have been selected for the project are: UET Lahore, UET Peshawar, COMSATS University Islamabad, Punjab University and NED. The briefing session was followed by a round of questions and answers. The focus of the questions remained on lack of AI ecosystem in Pakistan, absence of AI backed industrial base in the country and problem of high brain drain of human resource trained in AI related fields to developed countries.

6.         CASS team was taken for a special visit to robotics lab of NUST where Dr.Yasar Ayaz presented demonstration of robots and other machines operating through artificial intelligence. Of particular interest were football-playing team of robots who had participated in RoboCup 2016, autism monitoring machine, automatic wheelchair and robot waitress etc. It was encouraging to note that all the machinery parts were purchased locally and assembled to provide complex outputs. The visit concluded at 2:00pm after a sumptuous lunch hosted by rector pro-rector NUST.