Software Technology Incubator
An effort to nurture and
nourish small but high-tech companies during start up phase
By SHABBIR H. KAZMI
Jul 03 - 09, 2000
Perpetuation of modern education among Muslims was the mission of Sir
Syed Ahmed Khan the great Muslim reformer, scholar and educationist. This mission
was initially accomplished with the creation of the Aligarh Muslim University. The old
boys of the University carried over the mission by establishing Sir Syed University of
Engineering and Technology (SSUE&T) the first of its kind inn the private
sector of the country.
True to the examples set by Sir Syed, SSUE&T started its classes in
1994 with two disciplines, namely Computer Engineering and Electronic Engineering. At
present over 2,500 students are enrolled in various disciplines. Steady progress and
coordinated efforts to move ahead are evident. However, consistent with the most pressing
need of the hour, the University's main thrust has been Computer Engineering. This
department has become the largest when compared with similar department of any university
private or public in Pakistan.
When seen in the context of the importance of information technology,
one could only say that SSUE&T computer and research facilities are absolutely
top-notch. The establishment of a Software Technology Incubator at the University has been
a very significant step. This unit is headed by Athar Mahboob, an IT enthusiast, who
preferred to work in Pakistan after completing his education in the US.
Being the precursor of an ultimate and elaborate project to be known as
Sir Syed Technology Park, the incubator is a notable programme to nurture and nourish
small high-technology companies during their set-up phase with a variety of the
basically-needed technological, professional, managerial, research, legal and networking
support at a nominal cost.
A brief introduction of SSUE&T facilities should be of immense
interest for the IT professionals in the country. It houses, four servers, 700 nodes
(computer terminals) and the number of users of the facility exceeds 2,500 all of
them are students of the university. It has a plan to establish its own ISP mainly for the
benefit of the students. Another important point is that at present at least eight
software packages are being developed at its Software Technology Incubator for companies
of international repute.
The most striking feature was use of the latest and the
state-of-the-art computer hardware. All these computers are world-known and leading brand
names. Most of the equipment has come as a donation from Madani Welfare Trust a
US-based group of Pakistani scientists and engineers who are providing technological
support to Pakistani students. The Infaq Foundation has also been making generous
contributions in equipping SSUE&T laboratories.
At present SSUE&T incubator has three projects from the US
companies which include CISCO and Lockheed-Martin. Another NGO from the US, Iqra
International Foundation, has awarded SSUE&T a project to prepare e-education system
for the Muslim community of North America. This will be for students from kindergarten to
Recently, Pervez Musharraf, Chief Executive of Pakistan also visited
SSUE&T incubator when he was the chief guest for Convocation 2000. He was not only
fascinated by the work being done at the University but also gave a computer, as a gift,
to one of the students.
To conclude, it will be right to say that SSUE&T is fully equipped
to undertake a meaningful and healthy competition with the software export facilities in
the neighbouring country. There are about 20 reputed software development companies in
Karachi and the number is expected to exceed 100 by the end of this year. For the IT
industry in Pakistan, SSUE&T facilities and its graduates are a big asset and now it
is up to the industry to exploit the potential.