INTERVIEW WITH DR. MUSHAHID HUSSAIN HASHMI, CHAIRMAN DEPARTMENT OF AUTOMOTIVE & MARINE ENGINEERING, NED UNIVERSITY KARACHI

KHALIL AHMED
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)
June 27 - July 3, 20
11

PAGE: TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF.

DR. HASHMI: My name is Dr.-Ing. Syed Mushahid Hussain Hashmi, and I am working in NED University since 2002. I am basically a Mechanical Engineer, graduated in 1997. In 2001, I completed M.Sc in Energy Systems from NED University. I went to Germany for my PhD work in 2006 and completed PhD degree in March 2010 in the area of fuel cell technology from Helmut Schmidt University-University of Federal Armed Forces of Germany-Hamburg. Since April 2010, I am working as the Chairman of the Department of Automotive & Marine Engineering at NED University. Personally, I am very keen about imparting engineering knowledge to our young generation. In this way, I feel myself very lucky that my interest and my profession is the same. The developed nations are going toward knowledge based economy. In Pakistan, we have a big population only thing that is required is to transform 'human' into 'human resource'. Engineering education may share its due role in that transformation.

PAGE: HOW WOULD YOU COMMENT ON THE PROGRESS OF AUTOMOTIVE DEPT OF NED UNIVERSITY?

DR. HASHMI: The Department of Automotive and Marine Engineering was established in 2005 and a programme of BE in Automotive Engineering was launched with the commencement of the academic session 2005-06. NED University is the first and to date the only University offering Bachelor of Engineering degree in automotive engineering. So far two batches have graduated. The first batch of BE automotive engineering of 30 students graduated in December 2009 and second batch of 44 students graduated in December 2010. All students of first batch got job within two months after passing out while 60 per cent students of second passed out batch were gainfully employed. Alumni detail is available on http://www.neduet.edu.pk/Automotive/HTML/Alumni-org.htm. So far, there is a good feedback of students received from the employers working in the local automotive industry.

Automotive department of NED University offers master's level education in two specializations (Automotive Manufacturing and Automotive Design) in the evening programme. This evening programme facilitates the people working in the industry to enhance their knowledge and earn an M.Engg degree.

The existence and the functioning of the department in a short period of time is itself a big achievement credited to the administration of the university. The department is producing high quality engineering graduates in the field of automotive engineering for the first time in the country.

The functional laboratories established in the department are fully equipped with sophisticated lab equipment such as:

1- Combustion & Emission lab includes Hydra Engine Test Bed, Rotronics Engine Test Bed, Chassis Dynamometer, Suspension Tester, Exhaust Gas Analyzer and out board engines.

2- Body & Suspension lab includes four post lifter, car fault diagnosis system, cutaway model for si and ci vehicles, wheel balancer and computerized wheel aligner.

3- Automotive electronics lab includes auto-electronics experimental modules based on sensors and actuators used in automobiles, auto-electronics simulators, multipoint ignition and injection system, electronic fuel ignition system, automobile electric systems study unit and automobile air conditioning unit.

4- Fuel cell lab includes fuel cell testing system, gas chromatograph, fuel cell experimental module and pressure composition isotherm (PCI) measurement unit.

5- Computer lab is fully equipped with sate of the art computing facilities and the most sophisticated engineering software.

There is no doubt that the department has progressed a lot after its inception in terms of quality education and resource development. One of the success stories is the participation of the students of our department in the event of Shell Eco Marathon, which took place in Sepang Malaysia last year. In this event, two teams participated from the department with their vehicles developed in-house. Both teams passed successfully the road worthiness test conducted by the organizers of Shell Eco Marathon.

For the event of Shell Eco Marathon two complete vehicles were designed, fabricated, and tested in-house by the students of the department under the guidance of the faculty. One of the vehicles named TRIKE is the prototype vehicle, this vehicle is to be considered as the first Pakistani vehicle which is completely powered by hydrogen gas (without gasoline) and the engine is the fuel cell (no gasoline engine). Fuel cell uses the energy of hydrogen and converts this energy directly into electricity using the polymer electrolyte membrane. There is no pollution at the point of use in the fuel cells because it uses hydrogen and oxygen gases and the product of the reaction is only water. Second vehicle named AJIEL participated in the event of Shell Eco Marathon is based on the urban concept. The students designed this vehicle in a way that it should be fuel efficient.

Students of current Final year of Automotive Engineering are working on a Formula-1 car which will InshAllah participate in FSAE event this year in Australia. FSAE is an event organized by SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers), a well reputed organization of automotive engineers of the world.

PAGE: WHAT KIND OF JOBS NED GRADUATES GET AFTER GETTING DEGREE FROM AUTOMOTIVE DEPT OF NED UNIVERSITY?

DR. HASHMI: It is important to understand first the difference between automobile and automotive engineering. Automotive is a big umbrella containing road vehicles and locomotives, (vehicles on land) ships and marine, (vehicles on water) aircrafts, (vehicles on air) aerospace (vehicles on space). Automobile is limited to vehicles on road whereas automotive covers all vehicles using motive power whether on land, water, air or space. In developed countries, the scope of automotive engineering is very big and it is to be appreciated that all vehicles have some sort of engine and having certain driving or propelling mechanism as well some control mechanism to slow down or speed up the vehicle.

Only two batches have so far passed out and large number of students are working in OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers), vendors (first tier and second tier vendors), and allied engineering organizations. There are jobs available for automotive engineers in several sectors other than pure automobile for example manufacturing, utilities (especially growing power sector), insurance, management etc. The curricula taught in four years of automotive engineering cover both theoretical and practical knowledge in wide disciplines includes mechanical engineering, electrical and electronics engineering, computer sciences, mathematics and basic sciences. This allows automotive engineers to work in a multi disciplinary environment. There are estimates that 30 percent cost of a vehicle would go in electronics and controls. The emergence of ECU (Electronic Control Unit) and other electronic devices available on board in vehicles is a clear sign of the diversity coming in the modern discipline of automotive engineering. Consequently, this would open more opportunities for the graduate students.

PAGE: HOW CAN AUTO INDUSTRY PROGRESS FURTHER?

DR. HASHMI: Any industrial progress requires capital investment and consistent policies. Unfortunately, because of law and order situation and inconsistent policies every sector is facing huge problems to progress any further. Power cut downs have seriously affected the whole engine of economy to a level of disaster. Serious measures are required to undertake in the current circumstances. There must be some subsidies to be given to local manufacturers. The illegal cross-border trading of vehicles and auto parts must be stopped.

PAGE: WHAT KIND OF EFFORTS ARE REQUIRED BY THE GOVERNMENT OF PAKISTAN FOR THE PROMOTION OF LOCAL AUTOMAKERS?

DR. HASHMI: In order to have the sustainable growth for the automotive sector of Pakistan, following are the considerations:

1- There is a requirement of critical review to be made for the current Auto Industry Development Programme (AIDP) 2007-2012. Identifying impediments resulted in the non-achievements of the envisaged targets. It would be better to frame the AIDP for longer term (say 10 years).

2- Government must adhere to the policies. Inconsistency in the policies results in non-coherent objectives. For example, we should adhere to the tariff and non-tariff conditionality during the implementation period.

3- The rate of duties must be rational and it should be comparable with the rates of the neighbouring countries.

4- Government should develop trade policy specific to auto industry i.e "Auto Trade Policy of Pakistan".

5- Un-organized sector producing several different vehicles running over the roads should be curtailed. This unorganized sector is not giving proper attention to required safety measures in operation and manufacturing of the vehicles.

6- All stakeholders (OEM, vendors, foreign principals, and financial institutions) of automotive sector should be participated in the policy decisions.

7- Learn lessons from our neighbours. India is a good example where automotive sector is growing year by year. The auto mission plan (AMP) of India is good document having plans from 2006-2016.

8- Overloading of public transport vehicles (both people and goods) is a common feature on our roads. Strict laws must be enforced for the safety of the people.

PAGE: YOUR VIEWS ABOUT INNOVATION AND RESEARCH IN AUTOMOTIVE SECTOR.

DR. HASHMI: There is a huge potential of innovation and research available in the automotive sector provided we develop vehicles indigenously. It mean we can only put innovative ideas when we are designing our own vehicles from well to wheel i.e. from the inception of the idea to the end use. Bringing CBU (Completely Built Unit), CKD (Completely Knock Down) and importing used vehicles won't foster much innovation and possibility of research. One of the areas of research could be the development and testing of bio-fuels. The use of bio-diesel would certainly mitigate up to certain extent on our foreign exchange bill of energy imports. Research can be undertaken on alternative fuel options.

Apart from high tech research there are several simple things to do which are related with every day habits and it is well proven that these simple things can help us in saving the scarce useful energy. One simple thing we can do in order to save the scarce energy resource is to reduce the frequency of brakes (i.e. number of times the driver apply brakes) by providing better and smooth roads. Every time when brake is applied the energy in the form of heat is dissipated to the environment, the energy dissipated in the environment is no more useful. Develop awareness among drivers for appropriate amount of air pressure in the tires. This improves the efficiency of the vehicle by reducing the rolling resistance. Fuel consumption can be decreased by up to 10 percent by anticipating traffic conditions ahead and adjusting accordingly. Avoid unnecessary idling which is very common in public vehicles in our country. Idling for more than a minute consumes much more fuel than restarting the engine. Proper maintenance such as checking the levels of fluids (engine oil, coolant, transmission, brake, power steering, windshield washer, etc.), the tightness of all belts, and formation of cracks or frays on hoses, belts, and wires, keeping tires properly inflated, lubricating the moving components, and replacing clogged air, fuel, or oil filters maximizes fuel efficiency. There is a requirement of educating common people on simple things, which really can help us in saving energy and protecting our environment.