By: Amal Hashim – Social Development and Policy Major 2020
The SSE Public Lecture Series kicked off this semester with a student-led talk and panel discussion, moderated by a student, Zuha Sohail, in which car-making teams from PNEC-NUST and Habib University sat together to relate the ups and downs and twists and turns in the journey to making their dream car.
The students also engaged in a mentorship session of sorts where the students of the PNEC-NUST team, who had already finished their car and won the Formula 1 Competition with their Electric Racing Car, talked to students of Habib University who were in the process of making their own fuel-efficient car.
The Formula 1 Electric Racing Car makers were eager to share their story and experience with the audience. Of particular interest was their idea of an electric racing car and how they came up with it. Speakers from PNEC-NUST’s team placed particular emphasis on this uniqueness since they were the first team in Pakistan to think and build a racing car running on electricity. This comes at a time when the entire world is concerned about environmental sustainability and alternative fuels.
One of the presenters for PNEC-NUST team revealed how deep their excitement and love for the project went when she mentioned that the “Future is ELECTRIC” and that this idea had come about as a result of attending a conference in 2013 where the speakers had discussed alternative fuels as the way forward. For the PNEC-NUST team this was their contribution to the world of environmental sustainability and lowering pollution levels. Since the technology used in Formula 1 cars gradually trickles down to the every day cars that we use, the team is hopeful that in the near future, Pakistan will also use electric-based cars instead of non-electric resource-based.
On the other hand, the Habib University team looked towards fuel-efficiency when making their car which is another way of answering concerns of environmental sustainability. However, Habib University‘s carmakers are still in their early stages of building their dream car for the Shell Eco Marathon and thus cannot be placed in competition with a team that has already finished their car.
However, interesting to note here is that members of the PNEC-NUST team regretted that they met with a lot of resistance and discouragement on the part of their faculty, friends, peers, and family members when it came to participating in the competition, especially in its initial stages. Shariq Waqar, Team Lead for FERN (Formula 1 Electric Racing NUST) particularly emphasized a need to re-evaluate the educational system and its emphasis on theoretical knowledge without equal emphasis on practical application.
The first student-led event under SSE PLS was a brilliant success and students from Habib University, itself, and outside were able to learn much from it as was obvious in the interactive Q&A session following the panel discussion.