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ASU teams up with Pakistani universities to tackle energy problems

By Hanna Rahman –

Arizona State University will be working with two top Pakistani universities to improve Pakistan’s power production.

ASU is one of four U.S. universities participating in a new program to help Pakistan solve three critical problems: availability of energy, access to a sustainable quantity of energy and water, and the productivity and security of Pakistan’s food supply.

The program was designed by the U.S. government’s Department of State and Agency for International Development and Pakistan’s Ministry of Planning. Leaders from ASU attended the launch of the program on June 3, 2015.

The individual projects are designated as the Pakistan Centers for Advanced Studies in Energy (PCASE), Water, and Agriculture and Food Security. Along with ASU, the University of Utah (UT) and the University of California, Davis (UCD) are part of the program.

ASU is working on the energy project with the National University of Science and Technology in Islamabad and the University of Engineering and Technology in Peshawar.   UT is working on the water division with Mehran University of Engineering and Technology in Jamshoro and UCD is working on the agriculture and food security project with the Agriculture University of Faisalabad in Faisalabad.

USAID awarded $18 million to ASU over a five-year period for the program.

The program is meant to increase research and practical application in related fields so that graduates are prepared to work in areas that require the most assistance. “The purpose of the project is to prepare students who would, upon graduation, have the ability to participate on bigger projects. It is not directed towards just any energy challenge,” said Gary Dirks, director of the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at ASU.

ASU’s official mission cites the desire to educate, research and solve problems and to be a global university that encourages its students to engage in study and search for solutions to critical problems around the world. “The university believes that one of the key characteristics of the best education for the 21st century is a global presence that enables students and faculty actively to engage the world,” said Dirks.

The PCASE project will enable 20-25 faculty members and researchers to work closely in vital areas such as teaching methodologies, curriculum development and applied research projects. Over the course of the project, USAID will fund up to 150 graduate students to visit ASU for at least one semester to participate in advanced research projects as part of their graduate training in Pakistan. In addition, up to 50 professors from the partnering universities will visit ASU to work in the advanced energy laboratories.

Faculty and students from Pakistan will also gain valuable experience in technology transfer and entrepreneurship. They will be positioned to become leaders in helping their home universities develop technology transfer centers as a way to connect applied research to the formation of new incubator programs that will spark the creation of new knowledge-based research companies in Pakistan.

“We will be helping them build laboratories and acquire the correct tools for research. My personal view, one of the core things that we hope to come out of this is for a really strong relationship with these two universities. As there are challenges that Pakistan may be facing going forward, we can be of assistance,” said Dirks.

This is not the first time, ASU has partnered with another country. ASU has partnered with El Salvador to strengthen municipal responses to crime, India to support teacher education, Vietnam to modernize top engineering universities, and Palestine to install solar power in K-12 schools while training teachers and inspiring children to learn. ASU has also partnered with Pakistan in the past to advance research and teaching capacity and develop the study of journalism.

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