Afternoons are usually the laziest part of the day, not so in SEECS. On Friday the 16th of May, the SEECS UG lobby was buzzing. Buzzing with curiosity. Buzzing with anxiousness. Buzzing with ideas, ideas that could possibly change Pakistan and life as we know it. Why? It was the occasion of the final stage of FICS (Finding Innovative and Creative Solutions) and the winners were to be announced today.
After the Jumma break, various people from the industry started pouring into the SEECS UG Lobby – each an expert in their fields. These experts would stroll through all the projects on display and would actively understand and critique each and every one. If a project had areas that needed improvement or if it lagged somewhere the experts would candidly point it out and would immediately ask why it was so. The students participating were clearly under pressure but even then they proudly stood at their desks, ready, in-fact eager, to answer any query thrown at them. It was also interesting to note that whatever question was asked, the participants were ready to answer even if a question was asked completely out of the blue. It seemed that everyone had anticipated each and every question beforehand.
The lobby contained a plethora of projects and each project did not cease to amaze. If you walked past a stall you would immediately walk back to find out what it entailed. And each time you’d be happy you did.
Due to scarcity of time I could only learn about a few of these projects. But the obvious attractions were the big boy toys.
- VISOR – Automated Sentry Gun
The only project that had the sign “CAUTION: Loaded Gun” sticking on it, it would be safe to say that bystanders could be found curiously looking at the project throughout the duration of the event.
There was a lot of engineering involved but simply put: you could shoot anything directly by selecting a target on the computer display.
- UGV/UAV Surveillance
A six wheeled all-terrain Unmanned Ground Vehicle and a four rotored Unmanned Aerial Vehicle combine to become the coolest looking project in the arena. The aim of the project was to provide surveillance without putting human lives at risk. The UGV could travel a mile with the UAV on its back, aka base station, and then the UAV could further travel a hundred meters to provide surveillance. After its flight the UAV would land on the UGV’s base station which doubled as a charging station for the UAV as well.
At 4.30 all the participants and experts were asked to attend the closing ceremony of FICS.
Like clockwork everyone was seated by 4.30, with the Seminar hall filled to the end, and as scheduled the chief guest the Rector of NUST arrived.
After the recitation of the Holy Quran, as is routine, Ummay Salma of BEE4 came on stage as the host of the event. Ummay Salma gave us an overview of what FICS compromises and what the premise of such a venture by SEECS is. She highlighted that Pakistan needs creative solution to its problems and FICS is just the means to that end. She then called on the stage Dr. Arshad, the Principal of SEECS, to address the audience. In his address Dr. Arshad told about the success of FICS 2013 and that because of this initiative students from SEECS were collaborating with people from the industry to make a non-invasive glucometer – a revolutionary piece of engineering in its own right.
Dr. Arshad also told the audience that people from the industry were so smitten by some of the ideas presented by the students that they’d already picked up seven projects to mentor even before the winners were announced. He then went on to state that no matter who wins FICS 2014, participation is mostly what matters.
After this shields were presented to people from the industry as a token of appreciation and all of the mentors were individually thanked for their guidance and critique to the students.
The time finally came for the moment everybody was waiting for the prize distribution, and without further ado:
In third place: VISOR – the team that brought the automated sentry gun who were awarded PKR 15,000, sponsored by Alfoze Technologies Pvt Ltd.
In second place: Braille Pad – a team that allowed braille reading to become easier for the visually impaired who were awarded PKR 30,000, cosponsored by Gilani Research Foundation and Topline Group UAE.
And in first place: E-Maa – the team that will reduce the health risks to expecting mothers and their children particularly in rural areas where access to health facilities are hard to come by who were offered PKR 50,000, cosponsored by Oracle Corporation and Moftak Solutions.
Along with this the winning teams were allowed to avail the chance to be mentored at SEECS’ very own Green Lab, which functions as a startup incubator.
After the excitement inside the seminar hall died down a little, the Rector came to address the audience. The Rector, too, reiterated the importance and significance of platforms like FICS. He also acknowledged the role of universities in spreading the advent of entrepreneurship in Pakistan, something which Pakistan desperately needs. He went on to say that if graduating students could create jobs instead of striving to get them, then that would be the greatest gift they could back to the country.
With the end of the Rector’s address, FICS 2014 came to a close along, leaving behind in its wake some extraordinary products and ideas, and inspiration for all those who plan to participate in FICS 2015.