By Amal Hanif
Dr. Atta ur Rehman, Mr. Muhammad Mujahid and a few others came together for a project to provide science-based skills to Pakistan back in 2005. They travelled the world, attempting to negotiate with some overseas universities to join hands with them. Soon they were able to reach around 30 agreements with universities all over Asia and Europe. However, due to political inefficiencies in the country, the project was shelved.
This initiative was once again brought back to life with Dr.Ata’s determination in 2018 and with the unwavering support of Imran Khan and approval of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, the university breathed life and was finally constructed. The Fachhochschule was inaugurated by Prime Minister Imran Khan, in September 2020. This also became one of the fastest universities to be built in the subcontinent, particularly in collaboration with foreign affiliates.
How is it a different experience?
The Pak-Austria Fachhochschule Institute of Applied Sciences and Technology is the first foreign engineering university of Pakistan. Three leading universities of Austria and five Chinese universities have partnered to establish this hybrid engineering university. The dearth of skilled labor has been a bane for the staggering economy of Pakistan, so with a unique approach towards education, the university aims to provide the industrial economy of Pakistan with a skilled workforce. Concentrating more on practical courses and research, it promises to contribute to the society by training and mentoring students to become entrepreneurs.
What does it offer?
Situated approximately 40 miles away from Islamabad this stunning university is at a picturesque spot beside Tarbela Lake in the lap of green mountains. It consists of state of the art classrooms, fully equipped labs, an outstanding library and well-resourced hostels. Badminton, volleyball courts, soccer and cricket fields are accessible to students. Additionally the university provides commuting facilities, internet, ATM facilities, and vending machines. Lastly, spacious auditoriums, indoor gaming rooms, and student activity centers make this a well-facilitated educational institute.
The university provides Bachelors, Masters and PHD programs. Students will benefit from foreign courses and may receive degrees from those institutes as well. A high standard of education will be offered through ultra-modern technology. In the center of the university is a technology park which was created as a platform for innovation and commercialization of inventions that can boost the development of technology-based exports from the country.
Who should apply?
Therefore, PAF IAST seems to be the best place for students interested in science. Courses range from railway engineering to mineral resource engineering. Be it agricultural food technologies or artificial intelligence; this Fachhochschule has covered it all! Various courses are still in the pipeline such as pharmaceutical science, food engineering and civil engineering. At the moment they seem to offer five programs and one center is currently functioning. The Sino Pak center for artificial intelligence which is funded by the ministry of IT and communication aims to research and develop the artificial intelligence sector of Pakistan. This would ultimately help in solving numerous problems and making Islamabad the IT hub of companies.
We need more Pakistani technocrats settled all over the world to return and serve their country. People like Professor Haroon Ahmad, who resigned from his position as a master at the Cambridge College, has become a part of this project.
To conclude, this is a remarkable opportunity for students who want to become entrepreneurs in science and technology. Now, they have the benefit of saving on foreign exchange and settling closer to home. As the university expands its programs, Pakistan can catch up with the world and profitably invest in the lives of its young population to set them on the course to success.