Thursday, January 29, 2009

FAST-NU Engineering Fiasco

I recently received an email from OSAF, The Old Students Association of FAST to provide feedback on the curriculum and quality of FAST-NU graduates. I normally try to stay away from political discussions and useless exercises as these never bring any outcome. However after having discussed the situation with one of the CEC members, I finally decided to jot down certain points as my last-ditch effort for the welfare of engineering students and fresh graduates of FAST-NU Lahore. These points might be useful for the FAST-NU Alumni Association (FAA) for their forthcoming meeting with the honorable Rector, Dean and Registrar of the university on February 7, 2009.

Having seen 3 Directors and spending almost 5 years at this campus, it puts me in a great position to write these notes.As Maria rightly pointed out an issue in her feedback

“I believe that the greatest quality of fresh graduates of NUCES FAST is that they are not afraid of putting in the hours i.e. have an ability to work hard. They generally know their stuff as far as their field of expertise is concerned. One of the important weaknesses, in my opinion, is a general lack of exposure owing to too narrow a focus on academic excellence promoted by FAST. Fresh graduates are not as well-rounded or confident as they potentially could be.”

However, I don’t consider it the prime reason and major weakness of FAST-NU graduates. To me, the major weakness is the FAST-NU Lahore’s administration itself. Let us compare ourselves with institutes other than LUMS and LSE, which are majorly business schools. Our technical graduates are much more professionally groomed than even UET Lahore.

Let me just first put the ground facts in order.

1. TE & CE students of Batch 2002, 2003 and 2004 underwent experimentation during the PEC recognition phase.

2. It’s a pity for someone to know that an estimate of only 15 students out of the intake of 250 engineering students graduated on time.

3. Only one student of TE 2004 is in the Dean’s List (without any F, withdraw and CGPA above 3.5)

4. Most of those who graduated on time and those who graduated late are jobless. Only a minority could secure good jobs and that too through their own family references. The rest of the lot is either sitting at home, doing CCNA qualification for VoIP jobs or doing internships at small telcos, VOIP companies and software houses. No serious effort was put in by the management to place the graduates thus resulting in accumulation of great frustration and hatred towards the Alma mater. If a topper of the batch is offered a 12.5K job before the global financial crisis, what more can you expect? Hence, most of the top students joined as Lab Engineer jobs at the campus against their will.

5. The students cannot apply for good Post-Graduate programmes & Scholarships due to the low CGPA. Most of the institutes reject them in the initial screening considering the STAMPED “F”’s.

6. It is not the dearth of good students. In fact, it is the dearth of good faculty, good leadership, and very limited resources. Getting good-quality faculty, and more importantly, retaining them, is a serious concern. A recent statement issued by a senior faculty member (who few years back used to claim that wants to bring in the best faculty) says that he has CV of individuals who are willing to teach at Rs.8K per month and all those who are not satisfied with the pay scale can leave the campus. To me, this is a serious crime and he should be taken into task by the high-ups.

7. The senior level courses whether it be Digital Communications, Microwave Engineering, and Wave Antenna & Propagation Theory etc. etc. are most of the time taught by graduates who are just a year senior to the graduating class. For God Sake, this is not an evening tuition center! I mean these are the courses which should only be taught by senior faculty members to broaden the horizon of students. To be very frank, I can quote that I never got an “F” from any Doctor or Senior Faculty Member. All the F’s that are sparkling on my transcript are the ones that I got from young faculty members and lab engineers.

8. You are bound to do Final Year Project under the faculty members and Industry Projects are discouraged. The faculty member who has just graduated 6 months back, how would he/she be able to guide you on an R&D Project as he possesses the similar knowledge as the students themselves. Moreover, the aim and vision of the FYP is mostly that it’s *DOABLE* and has lots of hardware associated so that FYP evaluation committee doesn't reject it. Thus, innovation is discouraged, projects are not continued and every year we see similar projects being done again and again as were done by their seniors.

9. Theoretical Courses like Satellite Communications are offered as elective whereas the university itself knows that Courses like Database System or Web Programming can enhance the technical skills of the graduate.

The list goes on and on and on. However, we should now realize that what’s done is done. We cannot right what’s been done to the already graduated lot. Perhaps, we can suggest solution and how can we help them out.

My Proposed Solution:

FAST-NU Lahore has one of the best human resource of the country available at a single campus. Whether you speak of business minds, IT and Engineering Geeks, you have it all here. The need is to channelize their potential and take it towards a goal which benefits all. I accept that Telecom Market is low due to the slump. However, we can establish a business incubation center which involves people from all domains. The recent graduates who are jobless or are working in small software houses should be called in to work on the Startups and Commercial Product Development. This can also help in improving the Industry-Academia relationship. This center of young enthusiasts and entrepreneurs should be supported by the NU administration with the facilitation of necessary funds and infrastructure development. Graduating students and juniors should be involved in this process too. For example, a mentor can be assigned to a group of people and if this group comes up with a commercial product by the end of the year this would be certainly more beneficial than doing a worthless non-commercial engineering project which would never be continued by the following batches.. This is one of the ways FAST-NU can distinguish its Engineering School & help the frustrated lot by supporting them in their respective endeavors.

These are my two cents on this topic.You can pen down your opinion in the comments section.


Abdul said... @ January 29, 2009 at 10:23 PM

Its plain and simple sad. They just slaughter the creativity out of you. Biggest mistake of my life coming to FAST. Professionally and in most other respects I stand where I was after my A-Levels. I could go on and on as well but whats the point...

Anonymous said... @ January 29, 2009 at 11:49 PM

I believe theres nothing wrong with the FAST lhr campus itself and all the issues revolve around Engineering Department only. FAST was, is, will be a very good computer science institute. For TCE dept. instead of hiring new nonprofessional faculty they should reduce the intake to manage the resources.

and btw system is always wrong...! either you mourn about it or fight your way through it...I am one of the 15 still no job but I dont blame FAST admin./faculty. I think if a person stops thinking whats not there and starts thinking whats there...he can live in peace and satisfaction is guaranteed :)

Rafaeel Akbar Chaudhry said... @ January 30, 2009 at 4:23 PM

@ Saood: I agree to you on this statement that what one has is actually what matters.That's why i have proposed a possible solution too. :)

However, the job placement is the duty of the university administration.Why then these private institutes charge hefty fee? Remember, our university administration always used to give a pie chart at the convocation showing 100% employment rate ;)

Abdul Wahab Butt said... @ January 30, 2009 at 4:41 PM

Well roofi i partially agree with you because its not only FAST so called ADMINISTRATION but also includes the system for evaluation in Pakistan. Referring to 2nd ground factor. I am one of those 15 guys and due to the F***in system of evaluation in telecom Industry of Pakistan I still cant get a job cause I dont have "pawa" links of some seniour personals. so its also a request from my side to the RECTOR to please look into it and suggest a solution. As per Roofi's proposal I offer my services for that (better to work for the development of my UNIVERSITY than working at software house) or if its not possible please stop intaking Engineering student.
Lets stand together and work for the betterment of our UNIVERSITY leading to betterment of PAKISTAN. Inshallah

Fahd said... @ January 30, 2009 at 7:14 PM

well said roofi, now see how i compare the things..I am in Monash doing my masters these days.
I struggled at FAST to graduate...With the poor transcript of mine, i wasn't eligible to apply for any scholarship or into any top university. However I took a chance, I applied for top universities by getting a very high score in Toefl and IELTS, presenting my previous high grades of O'levels and Alevels. Work experience related to my field, which I was doing on my own.
I got this response from Monash University wich is ranked 25 worldwide and no.2 Eng Uni in Australia.
In their offer letter they wrote 'Although your grades are quite low for your admission, however looking at your profile we think that you should be given a chance."
Well, finally I got admission in one of the prestigious universities. 1st semester is finished now. I secured 70% over all with 1 distinction. What did I do different here. This uni is probably far reputed than FAST. They have research funds worth billions of dollars.
I studied less here, coz I am working side by side. Living in a hostel, had to cook for myself..etc.etc.
and its not that the exams are easy..they test you for wat they ve teach you. In Matlab labs, everyone works individually. The manual is set in such a way, that its self descriptive.. they teach you how to do things. They don;t test you how genius you already are. If some one is not able to finish lab, the lab instructor gives him extra time, tells where he made the mistake and guide him. In the end he gives full marks.
This is the approach here, they teach you so that you learn and use it.
They give us a tough time in assignments and tests, but in the end they do not screw up our grades.
The objective is different.

Anonymous said... @ April 21, 2009 at 4:43 AM

The people who are willing to put an effort can still do well, limited resources but opportunities are there... no one at FAST asks you not to study, in my opinion from batch 2003 and onwards most of the students came without an academic mindset and therefore suffered. Problem is that students at fast are not willing to put an extra effort just because they are paying so much and they think they have every right to be spoon fed... I would say author of this post is the best example of academically failed student who loves to put all blames to teachers, administration and management. We have examples from within these engineering batches of students who are doing great in academia and industry. Those who are doing CCNAs had to suffer just because they were never Engineers they were always the part of group who thought Telecom boom would change their lives. I must quote Belal Hashmi here "Engineer is not someone who blames others for his problem... he is someone who always comes up with the solution" So to hell with administration and faculty , you are in the age of internet and you have all the books and material available go and work hard and stop blaming people for your failures.

Rafaeel Akbar Chaudhry said... @ April 21, 2009 at 5:12 AM

Thank You Mr./Ms. Anonymous for your comments. From the comments i can pretty well judge that you are a senior as all seniors think that there juniors are not worth it :)

I never claimed that i am an academically "successful" person and if you digg my blog, you'll find several posts accepting that fact.

Perhaps you haven't read the point no. 7 completely. Do look again at the last 3 lines of that point.

Kindly ask the administration to produce the list of all Engineering Graduates of the Lahore Campus who have been placed by them or were recruited through their efforts.The truth would be revealed to you.

Well you also might be knowing that i have been onto a top slot too and i can pretty well understand how easy it is to blame the Head without considering what deep **** he might be in. Thus, i always consider this fact before raising fingers on others.

Apart from that, perhaps you haven't noticed that this specific post was written for OSAF on their request to alumni to outline the deficiencies that should be put in front of the Rector and Dean. Moreover, i have suggested a solution too if you were too busy reading the blame game.

Rafaeel Akbar Chaudhry said... @ April 21, 2009 at 6:16 AM

Moreover, all the TE toppers agree to most of what i have written here even though some of them are in the faculty now. Saood and Wahab were also 2 good students (above 3.0) and still jobless after a year.

Fahad (comments above) went to Monash which is one of the top universities of the world and had a very low CGPA at FAST LHR. His comments are self explanatory.

As Saood puts it, problem perhaps primarily lies with the NU Lahore Engineering Department only and this was admitted by a very senior professor who's also part of administration.

You gave example of Mr. Belal Hashmi. He taught us several courses. You can watch his comments about our batch here on :)

Khalid Mahmood said... @ April 21, 2009 at 11:56 PM

Well in whole of 2004 batch, the hardest working guy was Roofi, not taking his side but fact is a fact !!! When he wished to study he secured good grades, and working as president of softec, not being a member of it, i saw his hard work that made softec 08 worth something.

If u talk about CCNA, i think u lack knowledge of engineering than, from end of telecomm is Wireless and backend is complete network switching, that includes software and hardware development.

Scope of telecomm is wide, very wide. But limited in this country.

A quote will describe all my words which states: Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Fahad said... @ April 22, 2009 at 10:02 AM

For Anonymous:
With Due respect, all is well that ends well.
We don't mind putting in a lot of effort, we don't mind having a tough time in studies. If we get encouraging grades in the end. THere are somethings that still need to be changed. By giving low grades the morals of the students go down, after that we all loose the opportunity for further studies. THe reason for that is
1. We think we are not worth it, we don't deserve further studies
2. We can hardly get admission in any reputable university abroad with the grades we have.
3. We cannot even apply for scholarships.

Just imagine how big these 3 things are in any one's career. Failing, and giving low grades is never a way to improve their learning. So we definitely need to ponder.
There are weak students in every batch, but if your average gpa's of the batch fall below that level which is not acceptable worldwide, than there's is something wrong on the other side as well.

Samreen said... @ April 22, 2009 at 11:43 AM

Even after studying for FAST and having a very low morale , i still wanted to do my masters for a better future alas i could not get admission in the best universities so i decided to stick to second best. Even in second best i can't ask for scholarship due to my academic back ground. Coming from a good family my parents can afford to pay. What about parents who cant pay? What about the dream of their children ? will they be for ever stuck in a start up software company?

I am not some one who graduted with a miserable GPA , i actually did graduate with a resonable one according to FAST but in the world market i stand no where. Also i was brilliant in my A-levels so u cant say i was dumb either.
I know some one who got a miserable GPA but still his technical knowledge is execellent and working at a top foreign company cuz of that ,But when he applied for masters they rejected him cuz his gpa wasnt good enough. What about people like him? he isnt dumb he proved that by working in a great foreign company in america.
What about students in LUMS? are they more extraordinary then us NO !! Do they have a great GPA? YES !! Are they spreading all over the world .. YES !!
Will we ever get a chance to apply to YALE , LSE , MC GILL on scholarships .. NO !! will students from other universities.. ofcourse they would.
Btw if professors in FAST pride that we make sure only the best students go in the market , then they should also take only the best. Make their criteria for admission tough.
Any ways who has done A-levels knows what studies are and how tough they are. So having a tough time in studies is nothing here.
Just to let u know what the stuff we were learning our selves in CCNA , CCNP should have been taught in FAST. Being telecomm engineers we dont know network programming , pearl language.. no workshops nothing.
I wish the administration could see the distress the students are going through. i came here but i wouldnt recommend any one coming here. They destroy u has a person . Instead of making you better they make sure that they strangle the tiny bit of personality you ever had.

nobody comes in a university as an einstien they are blank black boards, professors fill the board up. I am one of those students who did get the board filled up but its all fuzzy cuz inexperienced professors can't write clearly. I hope that explains my point

hony said... @ May 18, 2009 at 5:49 PM

hi guys i am also in telecom in fast .the major reason for starvation of telco students is bcz the lack of professional faculty in fast .they have recruited such faculty which has no experience .i can not understand that why telecom toppers of every batch join FAST AS lab engineers.are they dont find any jobs or what..however i am in 4th semester may industry will again groom in upcomming years ....and kindly any one knows that how migration occurs in intera campuses of fast.plzz

aam.aadmi said... @ April 21, 2010 at 10:55 PM

all i learned is

this is X(t) it goes to system G(s) which gives us Y(t)

why dont they tell us what the hell is going in there.......

fastian_aliraza said... @ July 7, 2010 at 10:22 PM

salam .i think the major problem of fast nu is that they dont have any planning .our teachers and academics r confused between electrical and telecom .to capture a job market we should be coming up with a degree of electrical so that we can enhance our applying chances .for telecom sector we have limited capacity in industry .we just have 4 to 5 major operators and 6 to 7 vendors thats it .

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