LAHORE: Nergis Mavalvala, the Pakistani-American astrophysicist from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), was presented the first international technology award titled Lahore Technology Award at the first convocation of Information Technology University (ITU).
Prof Adil Najam from Boston University also received the ITU’s first honorary doctorate for his contributions in science, climate change and sustainable development, while Prof Nergis Mavalvala’s award was institutionalised by the Syndicate of ITU on her discovery of gravitational waves.
Speaking at the ceremony, Punjab Governor and ITU Chancellor Malik Muhammad Rafique Rajwana said that there was a need to promote positivity and curtail negativity to create islands of hopes in the sea of disappointment.
Rajwana said that efforts were required to provide social justice to the underprivileged common man to further promote the increasing corporate social services for the needy. “This day demands ITU students to serve the nation as the future of Pakistan is in their hands,” he added.
He said that all political parties were committed for the development of Pakistan and all leaders were patriot as we all were proud to have similar Pakistani identity.
In his convocation speech, ITU founding Vice Chancellor Dr Umar Saif congratulated the successful candidates. He said, “We felt a lot of pride in the release of our product in the shape of the first batch of MS Computer Science, BS Computer Science and BS Electrical Engineering”. Acknowledging the untiring services of the faculty members and Registrar Zaheer Sarwar, Saif said his services would be remembered by the students for decades to come.
Dr Saif said that the main purpose of ITU, driven by a culture of research and entrepreneurship, was to advance innovation and research in the areas of science, technology and engineering. Presenting the university report, he said that ITU faculty members had won Rs700 million in competitive research grants, published 465 papers in top journals and conferences and made technology that solved local problems in Pakistan.
He claimed that ITU had become one of the first universities in the world to enter in a formal partnership with EdX (MIT and Harvard University online course platform) to introduce online learning of two masters programmes in development studies and data sciences. “With a special focus on entrepreneurship, ITU and PITB jointly established Startup incubator Plan9 that has graduated over 160 startups and have bootstrapped a culture of tech startups in Pakistan,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 18th, 2017.