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ICE Hosts A Capacity-Building Session; Discusses The Stem Education And Cross-curriculum Links

Islamabad: The International Centre of Excellence (ICE) Pakistan hosted a one-day capacity building session on the 30th March 2022 at its campus cafe, Cafe iQ. The purpose of the event was to initiate a dialogue to add to the narrative of STEM Education in the academia sector.

Of the representatives invited to speak at the event the first was Ms. Humaira Masihuddin, a Criminologist, Senior Researcher at Centre for Research and Security Studies and Advocate High Court. 

Humaira Masihuddin

While talking about the education and knowledge seeking journey of a person, she noted that the search for knowledge should be for the sake of knowledge, not for the purposes of the competitive market or job security. 

“Knowing that I don’t know, is half the knowledge” she said, while impressing the importance of critical thinking and research, curiosity and inquisitive study for correct understanding of knowledge. 

She suggested that students and teachers alike should adopt the Socratic method of asking questions to gain knowledge.

“Humans are born to this world and must live to the fullest while in it. Not ignore it in search of success in the afterlife, for if we fail in this life we fail in the afterlife.”

During her address, Ms Humaira placed emphasis on the way knowledge is delivered and acquired – with love and understanding. 

“As opposed to a forceful approach, a kind and gentle one is advantageous for understanding and inspiration in students”.

Ms. Cynia Ejaz was the next to speak at the event. A senior marketing strategist and Regional Head of North Daftarkhawn, she opened by talking about the importance of women in any industry of Pakistan. 

Cynia Ejaz

“Empowered women will empower other women and that starts, at the grassroots level, with academia.” 

Cynia pointed out that in a man’s world, the biggest part in empowering and uplifting women is to be played by the men. 

“It takes a village to build an entrepreneur and women entrepreneurship has become a general mandate for everybody. To build inclusive work environments, we have to start with the people in the environment. The academic sector has the capacity and opportunity to set that agenda, build that mindset in their students that could bring results towards this agenda.”

The next guest to be invited was Mr. Badar Khushnood, Chairman Pakistan Software Housing Association (PASHA) and co-founder at Fishry.com who joined the event virtually. He opened his speech referencing STEM education in Pakistan. 

Mr Badar Khushnood

“In the IT, Engineering and Computer Sciences sector, of the thousand of our graduates only 10% are employed”. The reason is, he elaborated, our quality of education and the lack of resources and supplies that it is supposed to be delivered about. 

“STEM education and skills are for entrepreneurship as well as analytical skills. We must focus on fundamentals, everyone from the Arts and Literature to Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence must have the basics of STEM to live in the contemporary world.” The way to that, Mr. Badar said, is the curriculum and faculty, both of which need to be  improved and upgraded.

Mr. Badar wrapped up with an interesting retelling of one of his experiences at Google where he met a software engineer who was a Master in Philosophy and a former chef. He related his experience to the ability to unlearn and relearn. “To learn new things everytime, is essential for our students to live in this age of fast technological development and evolution. To keep up with their own industry.” 

Dr Umar Shahbaz Khan, a Mechatronics Engineer and Central Project Director at the National Centre of Robotics and Automation (NCRA), began by sharing the idea that we need to open up to technology and innovation because we need to compete with the world.

Dr Umar Shahbaz Khan

Sharing a remarkable statement made at a conference he attended at the National Defence University, Islamabad he said, “The future is of Artificial intelligence. The countries that are left behind will be the data mining sources for those countries who are leading in the field of Artificial Intelligence”. The message being that we need to grow with technology.

Dr Umar said the NCRA has enabled 13 labs with the technical capability and human resource to produce entrepreneurial people and products with the aim of making Pakistan a technology nation.

“The pace of academia is much slower than the market industry”. He stated that we need to change the student mentality from aimed towards GPA and marks to practical and working capabilities. He closed his speech by reiterating that we need to open to technology and new things, opportunities and possibilities will open up by themselves.

At the event’s close, Maam Sumbal Manzoor, the Head of Centre

After her address, Miss Sumbal Manzoor, Head of Centre presented the speakers with tokens of appreciation for their work. She thanked the people who helped put the event together and extended her gratitude to the guests who took the time to come and enrich the audience’ experience with their professional insight.