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U.S.-Pakistan Centers for Advanced Studies in Energy (USPCAS-E)

Many research projects have a well-defined beginning and end. But what happens when the end is really just the beginning? The U.S.-Pakistan Centers for Advanced Studies in Energy are working to make sure that the end of their USAID-supported project marks the beginning of a sea change: a broad transformation of energy engineering research and education in Pakistan. Key to project success is sustainability–building new centers at two Pakistani universities that will flourish after the life of the initial project. These centers are envisioned as emerging think tanks that are responsive to energy sector needs—creating innovative solutions to tough energy problems in Pakistan.

USAID is the lead U.S. Government agency working to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential. To create and strengthen a culture of applied research, USAID launched the U.S.- Pakistan Centers for Advanced Studies in Energy in 2015 focused on finding ways to increase energy production and availability, with an emphasis on renewable energy and energy production in remote areas, as well as energy storage and transmission, and energy policy.

With significant expertise in power systems, photovoltaics and renewable energy, policy and related energy engineering, Arizona State University (ASU) was selected to lead the project working with National University of Science and Technology (NUST) and University of Engineering and Technology in Peshawar (UET) along with partner Oregon State University (OSU). Together, they are building a network of stakeholders invested in the ongoing success of the centers.

To engage and inform its stakeholders, USPCASE hosts biannual meetings to share project updates and outcomes and to invite input and feedback on curriculum, research projects and more. USPCASE held its fourth annual Stakeholders Meeting and Research Expo on  April 25, 2018, at the Islamabad Serena Hotel in Pakistan. Biannual stakeholder meetings are one of the ways that USPCASE is actively seeking input from partners in government and industry to make the education and research in energy engineering relevant, even transformational.

Fostering Partnerships and Ensuring Sustainability

Stakeholder engagement is key to the sustainability of the Centers for Advanced Studies in Energy. The centers are developing a critical mass of expertise, creating an educated workforce through the preparation of graduate students, developing technical and policy solutions, and providing technical bandwidth to public and private energy organizations in Pakistan. In order to promote modernization and relevance of the curriculum, strengthen policy decisions and drive innovation, USPCASE is engaging with a wide range of energy sector stakeholders in Pakistan.

Ongoing engagement with stakeholders through one-to-one meetings and industry visits affirm that the centers are developing relevant curricula and research agendas that respond to both public and private sector needs for the long term. Stakeholder engagement with USPCASE increases year over year with participation nearly doubling each year.

“Stakeholder input and feedback are critical to the success of the Centers for Advanced Studies in Energy at NUST and UET,” explains Sayfe Kiaei, Motorola Chair and professor at ASU and director of the USPCASE project. “We are building programs to be responsive to the needs of Pakistan’s energy sector. Being nimble and innovative requires multiple perspectives and stakeholder engagement is helping to create the long-term success of these centers.”

The stakeholder meetings are an opportunity to learn more about each of the program components–curriculum, research, exchange, governance and sustainability. The meetings provide the latest information on degree programs, research projects and provide a forum for input and feedback. 

Stakeholder Muhammad Ziauddin, Chief Executive Officer with Élan Partners (Pvt.) Ltd., points to the capacity building aspects of USPCASE as key to future success. Young people from all walks of life are afforded an opportunity to work in a key sector and stakeholders have the opportunity to provide input to ensure that their experiences in the classroom and lab are informed by real-world challenges in the field.

Mr. Ziauddin highlighted the opportunity for stakeholders to suggest courses and programs that address current needs and future opportunities like hydropower and regulatory issues.

Stakeholder N. A. Zuberi, Chief Operating Officer, China Three Gorges South Asia Investment Ltd., calls USPCASE “an excellent initiative.” Mr. Zuberi believes that the program is extremely important to Pakistan and appreciates that stakeholder involvement affirms that courses are aligned with the requirements of the energy sector in Pakistan.

Mr. Zuberi says that the national stakeholder meetings provide a valuable forum for discussing lessons learned as well as ongoing and future challenges. He added that USPCASE is training the next generation of energy professionals and inculcating international best practices in energy production and management.

Ammar Yasser, Corporate Engagement Specialist for USPCASE encourages stakeholders to reach out and learn more about the project. “There are a number of ways that energy sector stakeholders can work with the Centers for Advanced Studies in Energy from sponsorship of research projects to working with faculty to hiring interns and graduates.”  Opportunities for collaboration include:

  • Sponsorship of research projects
  • Developing joint research proposals for funding
  • Internships and recruitment
  • Student scholarships
  • Knowledge sharing
  • Feedback on curriculum and research
  • Use of available testing and training services
  • Seeking expert advice and consultancy from faculty

Industry representatives may contact Mr. Ammar Yasser, Corporate Engagement Specialist for USPCASE at ammar.yasser@asu.edu for additional information on working with the Centers for Advanced Study at NUST and UET.