A sitting with Proud Pakistani Muhammad Hamza Ihtisham
By Tahir Amin ,
Lahore, Muhammad Hamza Ihtisham an alumnus of Department of Electrical Engineering,Punjab University,Lahore
He is the Winner of 3rd prize of @IEEEorg, IAS CMD Myron Zucker Undergrad Design Contest,2019 for his Design Project aong 160 top countries of the world. The Award Ceremony was held at Baltimore, Maryland USA.Here is his Exclusive interview,
Please tell us about your educational and professional career.
I was born in Sheikhupura, a city near Lahore. I started my Schooling from OPF (Overseas Pakistani Foundation) School Sheikhupura and then moved to Punjab Public High School Sheikhupura. After completing my matriculation from there, I did my intermediate from Punjab. Ehen I was 7 years old, my father got me a Pentium 2 Computer because he found me to be very enthusiastic about technology even in my childhood. I knew I wanted to be an engineer then and was wholly sure about my aim when I finished college. I got my admission in PUCIT but after a few months, I switched to Department of Electrical Engineering, University of the Punjab. When I left PUCIT, people solemnly advised me not to do so, but I was determined and highly motivated to do something extraordinary and witty in the field of Engineering. As a student of Department of Electrical Engineering, the Department delivered a lot to me and I am a proud Pioneer. I graduated as an Electrical Engineer and started my 1st Job in Mobilink as Network Supervision Expert in Network Operating Centre Jazz Pakistan. As Jazz is the largest Telecommunication Industry of Pakistan, I feel very honored to be a part of it.
How you developed interest in Research and Development.
Research and Development is always close to me from the day one and I love the most. The most beautiful thing of RnD is surprise. You don’t know what will be the result or what will be the next thing goings to happen but the research and learning process never stops. You can say, there is a built-in DNA Code inside me who push me to do something by doing something extraordinary. When I was in my school, I heard a word which was “Research Publication”. I waited along to work on Research and Development. When I stepped in the University, the only thing I knew be default was Research Publication. I discussed it with one of my teacher Engr. Danish Arif, he guided me different paths to approach Research and Development skills. Later on, I choose him as my Supervisor. The support of him and the support of Department of Electrical Engineering towards making me is really remarkable. I started Research and Development on Image Processing Techniques when I was in 3rd Semester of my Graduation. Me and my Supervisor worked day and night and learnt different tools and techniques for our research. With the guidance of him, I developed my own Edge Detection Algorithm which many time more effective and efficient than previous traditional ones. So, my vision was fully transparent and my department and teacher helped me a lot to achieve my aims and goals. While working in a research lab and based on my research project, we got an International Publication with the collaboration of University of Capetown. This publication boosted me enough to start a new project and we started a project on biomedical sciences.
Electrical engineering is a very unconventional subject, please briefly tell us about it? Do you think that young generation in our country has prospects in it?
I think those people who have ability to think technical and can produce innovative ideas are engineers. Electrical Engineering is not an unconventional subject. Pakistani is producing hundreds of Electrical Engineers every year. But Yes, that Engineering degrees are considered as the most tough degrees around the world. But I also think to compete the world, only a piece of degree is not enough for the rest of life. You have to learn extra skills and you have to be extra ordinary to express the real you in front of the world. Today’s world need creativity, innovation, communication skills and interdisciplinary knowledge. To fulfill this requirement, I joined different International Organizations to keep me update with the latest technology trends and researches on it.
If I talk about our generations so they should that today’s world is open source, to compete the world and to meet the standards of international students, our young generation have to learn some extra skills otherwise we can face lag after 10 or 15 years.
Please tell us about IEEE IAS Myron Zucker Design Contest. How did you hear about it and how did you win the award?
Back in 2014, the best thing happened to me is to join IEEE. IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering) is world largest organization and there are many technical societies existing under the umbrella of IEEE. I heard the name of IEEE and as I was research enthusiast, I started exploring it on internet. While searching on Internet I found a scholarship related to engineering but to apply for that scholarship, I need a IEEE Student Branch. At that time, I had no idea what IEEE Student Branch is. I kept doing searching and found the most valuable and most amazing person of IEEE Lahore Section named as Muhammad Usman Munawar. I used to call him Bhai, I learnt almost every IEEE Thing from him. He guided me about IEEE Student Branch establishment and I made a team 12 students (Umer Fayyaz, Aqeel Ehsan, Kaleem Hassan, Sana, Sunaina, Maleeha, Abdullah, Awais, Kanza, Noor Fatima, Umer Malik and Lamya Munir) for IEEE Student Branch establishment. In 2015, by the grace of Almighty, We Inaugurated the official IEEE Student Branch at Department of Electrical Engineering, University of the Punjab and I appointed as the 1st IEEE Punjab University Student Branch Chair. After few months, we organized the one of the largest and history making activity of IEEE Comsoc Lahore Section. Which was IEEE COMSOC Summer School Program 2016, it was the 1st Summer School of IEEE Region 10 and 2nd Summer School of the world. We organized it with the collaboration of IEEE UET Student Branch, IEEE ComSoc Lahore Section, KICS UET Lahore, ORIC PU and IEEE Lahore Section. This event literally flips the coin of my life and based on my extracurricular skills IEEE Lahore Section appointed me as Section Student Representative. The existence of IEEE Student Branch is more than 30 Universities in IEEE Lahore Section and I was appointed the student representative of all those branches. During my Student Branch Representative tenure, I tried my best to deliver maximum to the students. After my Student Section Representative Tenure, I appointed as the IEEE Industrial Application Society Chapter Representative.
One day while exploring, IEEE IAS Opportunities I found a competition and there was only 1 week left for competition deadline. I made a project and sent to them and I failed to score any major position. After that, I setup my mind to win this competition next year and started preparing myself whole year to preparing myself for IEEE IAS Competitions. In 2018, I submit my project under the supervision of Mr. Danish Arif and we won 2nd prize among 160 countries. Later on, in 2018 I won Honory Mention Award in IEEE COMSOC Student Competition and I am proud that I am 1st Pakistani who have this Award even no one in South Asia owns this award. These award really motivated me to work hard and apply again. So, I made a new team with Aqeel Ehsan, Umer Fayyaz and gathered some research volunteers (Amna, Hareem, Adil, Hamza, Danish and Osama) and started working on it. We completed this project under the supervision of Mr. Danish Arif. On this project, we also won National Grassroot Research Initiative grant and we collaborated our project at different national and fInternational research labs. By the grace of Almighty we completed our project and submitted to IEEE IAS Myron Zucker Design Contest 2019 and won 3rd prize around the world. I am proud that, I am the one who holds the same award for 2 years and I am very motivated and determined to submit again and this time hold 1st position around the world. After winning this award again IEEE IAS awarded Travel Grant to USA as well and our supervisor travelled to USA for award Ceremony. I believe no one in the world can achieve something lonely. There are many visible and invisible hands behind every achievement and we are here with the blessing of our parents, teachers and support of our department. We tried our best to give our contribution in the development of our Department and Pakistan.
Me and my team wants to deliver a message to the youth that determination, hardwork and struggle are key features to climb the ladder of success and support and encouragement from institutions and government may play an important role in this. Many people of Pakistan critics the system, the education system and many other flaws but I just want to say that this award of my team is the best example of dedication and determination. We worked hard day and night just to show the bright side of Pakistan to the world. We want to dedicate this award to the people of Pakistan and to science.
What are yours Major Accomplishments as student?
As a student my educational journey is so colorful, I received many awards on volunteerism based and my educational based. IEEE CEO and President 2018 gave IEEE Leadership Coin to me.
I won outstanding IEEE Lahore Section Student Volunteer and IEEE Rising Star Award in 2018. I also won IEEE Outsection Volunteer award in 2018.
You are also a Network Supervision Expert, please tell us about this field and how you manage it?
Yes, Currently I am serving Jazz Pakistan as Network Supervision Expert. This is my 1st job and I am really motivated for it. I always try to learn something new in my office. As I am new, I have done some major mistakes as well but I really appreciates my Team members, Team Lead and Line Manager who always support me and empower me to learn from my mistakes. From my end I am doing my best to learn new things and doing my best for Jazz Pakistan. I am working in Network Operating Center and the major responsibility of my team is to provide the best and streamline services to our customers. This field is so good to learn the depth of Telecommunication but yes sometime we have to work in really under pressure and crucial condition to rectify the major issues. I am managing it my own way, it’s like 8 hours’ rule. I split the 24 hours in 3 equal parts. 1 Part for office, 1 Part for Sleep and 1 Part for personal and other commitments. The most amazing part of my job is that it’s in shifts sometimes I used to go office in the morning, sometimes in the evening and sometimes in Night. I synchronized all my commitments and activities with my office weekly roster. I am trying my best to manage all my things but yes sometimes my sleep time get compromised. But Alhumdulilah, I am so grateful to him for this job.
Telecom sector is growing rapidly, how can our youth take the advantage of this development and how you benefited from it?
No doubt, telecommunication is the future now a day everyone has smartphones, internet connectivity and high speed data communication rate. So yes telecom sector is growing rapidly but in depth telecommunication is now emerged with different other fields like Data Science, Cyber Security and Computer things. If anyone wants to excel in Telecommunication you must need to learn something extra other than courses. The biggest dilemma I have observed is that, student avoids to take courses of telecommunication. If I talk about me own class out of 55 students just 11 students choose telecommunication as their Major subjects. If we want to grow the telecom sector we need to aware students to join Telecommunication.
If I talk about myself, I was clear when I entered in my 1st semester. I was clear in my goal that I will choose telecommunication as my major course. I always found myself in the field of Telecommunication and Informational Technology.
How many countries have you visited and what have you learnt from your experiences abroad?
Visiting different countries is always a new experience, you meet new people, establish new connections and learn new culture. Last year, I visited Bali, Indonesia for IEEE Region 10 SYWL Congress and represented Pakistan and different IEEE Organizational Units. I led IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biological Society Meetup and I delivered a talk on the activities of IEEE Communication Society Lahore Section. People really appreciated the efforts of IEEE Lahore Section and IEEE Comsoc Lahore Section. No doubt speaking at international platform is always an amazing experience.
You also deliver talk on different subjects Internationally, what are those subjects upon which you deliver talk and where in the world have you presented the different talks?
My public speaking Experience is really vast, I delivered more than 40 talks in different universities in IEEE Lahore Section. I also Delivered talk in IEEE SYWL Region 10 Bali and delivered many international talk online. The topic I mostly used to speak is Sharing Different Opportunities and how a student can get benefit from it.
When I was speaking 1st time on the stage, my legs were shivering, my heart beat was high and I was so confused. But with the passage of time, I counter this fear and spoke at many platforms and Universities. I visited almost every IEEE Student Branch University from Rahim Yar Khan to Faisalabad as a guest speaker and delivered a talk there. IEEE recognized my contribution and featured me on IEEE.tv which is one of the largest technical multimedia platform.
In public speaking, the most amazing thing I have experienced is TEDx Talk. I delivered 2 TEDx Talks, 1 at TEDx Punjab University and 1 at TEDx FCCollege. I can’t forget the feel of standing on a red circular carpet and speaking to the audience under spotlight. That moment is still a goosebumps moment for me.
During my 1st TEDx Talk team TEDx Punjab University really supported me I would really like to appreciate the efforts of Ms. Hadia Baloch the Curator of TEDx Punjab University and her team Shaffaq Fatima, Fatima Azhar, Hira, Saba, Rehmat and Rida. After this Ms. Mahnoor from FC College Invited me for TEDx FCCollege Talk and that was another best experience of my life.
How do you see the sector of Electric Engineering in Pakistan and what steps are required to make progress in this field?
Pakistan is developing country and no doubt Electrical Energy Production is one of the major need of our need country for its development. The ratio of jobs to graduated Electrical Engineers is very low and because of lack of opportunities, the electrical engineers of Pakistan are getting attracted towards foreign jobs and for further higher studies. The only reason behind this transfer is just good quality education and better job. If we want to progress in this field, we need to focus more on practical and hands-on experience with theoretical experience. I observed many people who are so good in their theoretical knowledge and when they move towards practical side their performance is not up to the mark because of lack of their practical knowledge. So, I think students need to maintain both sides of knowledge to excel more in the field of engineering. With that students need to learn entrepreneurial skills as well, they have to come up with a strong project idea and then commercialize it. After 4 years of professional degree and tens of courses a student should come with a unique project and sell it. The best examples of technical entrepreneurs are Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. They just started with some crazy ideas and they were determined to change the world and yes they did.
Pakistani institutes are one of the finest and oldest institutes of this region, so we need to maintain the importance and standard of research and development. I want to add a recommendation that if we develop just 1 updated and latest equipped lab in 1 year than after 10 years we have 10 Labs and if 5 universities worked on this collectively then after 10 years 50 individual and different research labs will be there for Postgraduate studies