PESHAWAR: Keeping in mind the shortage of experts in the energy sector of the country, the USAID funded US Pakistan Centre for Advanced Studies (USPCAS) appears to have the potential to fill that gap.
The centre is offering scholarships to 250 students for various courses related to energy and currently 116 students are enrolled at the centre while 76 of them have been awarded scholarships.
Out of the $20 million provided by the USAID for the establishment of the project, $5 million were allocated for the centre’s building, which is near completion in Hayatabad, and the rest for the centre.
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Talking to journalists from Islamabad and Peshawar who visited the centre on Tuesday, the University of Engineering and Technology (UET), Peshawar Vice Chancellor Noor Muhammad said the energy sector in the country has a shortage of experts and the graduates of the centre would help fill that gap.
The vice chancellor lauded the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government for giving preference to the energy sector and declaring it as ‘official think tank of the K-P government’.
“The provincial and federal governments will be the beneficiaries of the research,” he said.
Muhammad was very optimistic about the sustainability of the project as he refuted concerns that like many other foreign projects this one could also die a cold death after the donors stop funding.
“The centre will be a part of the UET, Peshawar and be independent after five years,” he said and added that the project had started in 2014 and was currently passing through its transition phase.
USPCAS Co-Director Arshad Nafees Khan informed the journalists about their achievements saying that they had hired seven faculty members and will hire 11 more in a phased manner.
Khan informed that the centre, a partner of Arizona State University, will focus on applied research relevant to Pakistan’s energy needs to produce skilled graduates.
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“The project is also holding an exchange programme for 90 students and 10 faculty members,” he said and added that 35 students and two faculty members had already been sent to the US under the project. He said the building under construction will be handed over in a month.
Sharing his semester’s experience at the Arizona State University, a student of the centre Muhammad Usman Afridi said he was enrolled at the Photovoltaic Reliability Lab where he learnt about a number of tests for asserting the quality of solar panels.
“We will soon start a lab here in Peshawar and set a benchmark for other labs in the country for testing solar panels,” he told The Express Tribune. “The labs in the country do not have proper facilities to check the quality of solar panels.”
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