‘Theory-practice link should be highlighted’

Published: August 20, 2016
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Misperceptions about theory and practice are widespread: US academic. PHOTO: FILE

Misperceptions about theory and practice are widespread: US academic. PHOTO: FILE

LAHORE: Lack of a deeper understanding of the latest technology and reliance solely on textbooks is preventing the emergence of a knowledge-based economy in the country, Prof Asad Ali Abidi said on Friday.

He was speaking to The Express Tribune following the final session of a five-day National ICT R&D Workshop on Communication Science and Systems at the Lahore University of Management Science (LUMS).

Abidi, a professor at the Electrical Engineering Department of University of California, Los Angeles, stressed the need to highlight the close link between studying theory and practicing it. He said use of case studies could be helpful for the purpose. He said there was a widespread misperception among engineering students in the country that theory and practice were two different domains. Most of them believed that they would transition from studying theory to practicing it after completion of their education, he added. “This dichotomy is entirely artificial. It stereotypes the practitioner as someone who works by trial and error and the teacher of theory as someone who only reads books written by others but never gets his or her hands dirty,” he said.

Abidi said the quality of engineering education being imparted to students in Pakistan was not up to the mark. “I want to impart a deeper understanding [of concepts] to teachers so they can go beyond textbooks and help elevate the standard of education in the country,” he said. “Other countries have now moved to knowledge-based industry. Knowledge has become the backbone of industry. I want Pakistan to follow the same trajectory,” he said.

LUMS Assistant Professor Dr Naveedul Hassan said the purpose of the workshop was to help raise standards of electrical engineering education in Pakistan. This is the 7th workshop in the series organised under the Teaching the Teachers theme.

The workshop was attended by around 140 participants from academia and industry.

Saqib Ali and Muhammad Imran, participants from the National Engineering and Scientific Commission (NESCOM), said they had had an amazing experience at the workshop. “Most professionals in the field work on [engineering] systems but are not always aware of the inner workings of these systems. Such workshops are helpful because they explain the inner working and reasoning behind these systems,” they said.

They said they had had to study for 12 hours everyday.

At the end of the training session, certificates were distributed amongst participants.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 20th, 2016.

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