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Jul 10 - 16, 2000

Athar Mahboob is an Associate Professor and Systems Manager at Sir Syed University of Engineering & Technology (SSUE&T). He has been at SSUE&T for more than four years. His special interests are in computer networks and communication systems. He prefers Linux Operating System and considers it the best operating system that the world has had so far. He has been involved in developing credible computing infrastructure at SSUE&T and has developed Linux, Windows NT and TCP/IP. He teaches Computer Communications and Networks and Computer Security courses to undergraduate and graduate levels.

PAGE: Why did you decide to join Information Technology profession?

Athar Mahboob: Information Technology (IT) has fascinated me since childhood. This was the reason I decided to get by education and to develop expertise in the area. The most interesting part is that when one learns more the desire to know more is exacerbated. The other reason was that I had a feeling that very few professionals were in this field in Pakistan. While most of Pakistanis did not know a bit about Internet in Pakistan in eighties it was commonly used in the US in universities. Allow me to say that it was the US universities which made use of Internet possible for the commercial enterprises. This was initially developed for the use by the US defence authorities.

PAGE: Why you chose to work in Pakistan?

AM: I believe IT is our future. We have to equip Pakistanis to make the best use of this technology as we cannot afford to dawdle. I got the chance to study and develop my skill in this field. The reason I decided to come to Pakistan, was to share this knowledge with my fellow citizens.

PAGE: Why you preferred to teach rather than joining the fast growing IT industry?

AM: I decided to join teaching profession because this has been my dream ever since I was a child. In December 1995, I sent my request to Dr. A. T. Khan, the then Vice Chancellor of SSUE&T to join the University. My interview was scheduled in the same month and I could not come to Pakistan till April 1996 due to my other commitments in the US. When I reached Karachi I met both Vice Chancellor and Chancellor and once again expressed my desire to join SSUE&T which was accepted and I joined the University as Assistant Professor on May 15, 1996.

PAGE: What is your involvement at SSUE&T?

AM: I devote all my time and energies in preparing a comprehensive undergraduate programme in Computer Engineering which is market-driven, developing a credible computer infrastructure in support of the degree programme and assessing the computing needs of the university. I have only been able to do what I have done due to the full support and encouragement of the University. My only contribution has been the desire on my part to do it. I also believe that there is still a lot more that I can do for the University.

PAGE: What has been the driving force?

AM: To achieve my objectives I have undertaken various development programmes at SSUE&T which are: Linux system, TCP/IP and related services, Windows NT operating system, design and implementation of computer labs, expansion of Campus network and Internet connectivity. I am also working on SindhNet project for computer network among all the universities in the province to create a local Internet backbone.

PAGE: What are your views on e-education?

AM: SSUE&T can rightly claim to be the pioneer in e-education. At the same time, I would like to say that at SSUE&T Software Technology Incubator we are preparing e-education in religious studies for the children of Muslims living in North America. The objective behind this project is to enable students wherever they are located at whatever time they prefer to study. For the time being availability of such facilities in Pakistan may be limited but if all the universities join their hands together the dream can come true. The basic purpose of education is to broaden knowledge and to use this knowledge in day to day life and not simply getting the degree.

PAGE: What is your message for IT professionals?

AM: Using computer is not the real fun. Its best use in under networking where each one is doing small job and benefits are enjoyed by all. These networks should be fast and efficient. PTCL can play a very positive role in the development of networks particularly among the universities. I believe that PTCL lines are being underutilized. If universities are given a facility of free of cost connections it will reduce the pressure on international lines. A document once down loaded and stored at a point can be shared by students from all the universities by using local lines only.