NCAI TechVerse 2021 concludes at NUST
As part of its pioneering efforts to foster research, innovation and technology development in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Pakistan, National Centre of Artificial Intelligence (NCAI) at NUST organised its flagship initiative AI TechVerse 2021 at the NUST main campus from August 30 to 31, 2021. H.E. Dr Arif Alvi, President Islamic Republic of Pakistan, graced the occasion as chief guest.
The event brought together top AI-focused start-ups and innovative minds from across the country and provided them with a platform to showcase their innovative ideas and prototypes. The President visited the Expo and Startup stalls before commencement of the ceremony at the Jinnah Auditorium of the university.
Addressing the audience, the President eulogised NUST and NCAI for conduct of TechVerse, which, he hoped, would give impetus to indigenous development of AI-based technologies and eventually bode well for import substitution in the domain and hence the national economy. Extolling the Centre for developing technologies in an array of fields, including transportation networks, media analytics, digitisation, healthcare systems, etc, he stressed the need for reaping benefits from the fast-advancing field of AI, which he termed a linchpin of economic development in these epoch-making times. He lauded NUST for transcending itself as a leading S&T university and undertaking mega initiatives of national significance (such as establishment of country’s first-ever S&T Park and facility for manufacturing of heart stents, both of which were inaugurated by H.E. Mr Imran Khan, the Prime Minister of Pakistan).
Federal Minister for Education, Mr Shafqat Mahmood, remarked that digital learning has been around for years but engaging students in learning proved to be a challenge. However, he said, the advancement of technologies in the fields such as AI, would bring about improvements in personalised learning experiences of students. He opined that instead of teachers catering to learning needs of each student individually, a system where algorithms identify the gaps in a student’s understanding and provide active feedback would be quite effective.
Executive Director HEC Dr Shaista Sohail said that the initiative of NCAI is aligned with the HEC’s vision of modernising varsities. Not only has the Centre been developing solutions to our indigenous problems using the powerful tool of AI, but also positively impacting the lives of society at large.
Earlier in his welcome address, Rector NUST Engr Javed Mahmood Bukari emphasised the importance of AI and highlighted that in a short span of its inception, NCAI has developed as many as 280 indigenous solutions, including Fast Grant Proposal for Covid-19, Forest Monitoring & Change Detection, Audio Data Analysis, Smart Media Monitoring and Analytics, Sentiment Analysis and Urdu Speech Recognition System, Smart Cleaning & Waste Management System, Autonomous Vehicle Localisation System, Pulmonary Tuberculosis System, etc. He further said that in March 2021, NCAI, in collaboration with the Ministry of Science & Technology has inaugurated the smart cities programme, which is geared towards modernising Pakistani cities by introducing various smart products and services. Chairman NCAI, Dr Yasar Ayaz, also apprised the audience of some of NCAI’s initiatives.
The two-day event was attended by a large number of students, academics, industrial representatives, entrepreneurs and AI enthusiasts. President of the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce, Sardar Yasir Ilyas Khan, was chief guest for the opening session.
AI Techverse 2021 was divided into three main segments. “AI Expo” entailed exhibition of industrial AI-related projects and presentations by some very capable individuals from research labs and NCAI partners. While, the “AI Ideas Challenge” was designed for young entrepreneurial minds to pitch their brilliant ideas within the vast scope of AI, and “Bol AI,” aimed at enhancing public awareness about prospects in the field.
Founded in 2018, NCAI is an HEC initiative that is based on a consortium model, including six renowned public sector universities of Pakistan and nine specialised research institutes and labs spread across Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, and Peshawar.