UET engineer offers solutions to critical problems at home

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Whether it is a robotic bird used as a miniature spy drone or remotely-piloted surveillance aircraft, a cellphone charger or nano-generator charger, or waste-to-energy facility to generate electricity, a young assistant professor of the University of Engineering and Technology (UET), Peshawar, claims he can develop indigenous technology and launch such projects if investors and government lend an ear and support to him.

Having PhD degrees in nanotechnology and renewable energies (& mechanics of materials), the assistant professor, Dr Mohammad Sadiq Khattak, 30, is currently working at the UET’s Mechanical Engineering Department. He has successfully developed robots for cleaning homes. Robotic cleaners sold abroad can be quite expensive but a robot he has named Klebot cost him just Rs3,000 ($28). He had also made a snow-cleaner when he was completing his degrees abroad.

However, Dr Khattak claims that the energy crisis in the country can be tackled with indigenous solutions. Instead of importing expensive machinery, indigenous technology could help in solving these problems, he proposes.

“There is a dire need for academia-industry linkages to turn such ideas into a reality,” says the engineer who claims he can also make a shoe-cell-phone charger, drone-bird for surveillance and weather forecast, and energy from solid waste with the support from private or public sector.

“Encouraging local talent to launch such projects can be cheaper and sustainable,” says Dr Khattak.

Recently, he developed a machine which could help solve a problem many farmers in Mardan and other areas faced. Farmers growing root vegetables often faced problems in digging these out. Dr Khattak says that a machinery part, Underground Vegetables Harvesting Machine, attachable to a tractor, can help harvest or dig, dust off and store vegetables grown underground. The project costs Rs85,000 only and was funded by the Pakistan Science Foundation.

Looking at the success of this agricultural project, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Authority signed an MoU with the UET, which would be a foundation for any future projects which could help increase the agricultural produce of the province.

Dr Khattak hopes that if the government supported such ideas and commercialised them to attract investors to help develop indigenous technology, the energy problem could be resolved. He complains that talent and expertise of people in the relevant fields are underutilised in solving such problems in the country.

It is surprising that professionals like Dr Khattak, who has a humble background studied at the Georgia Institute of Technology, USA (ranked in top 5 in the world) and the University of Lorraine, France, opted to come back to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the province having rich but poorly managed natural resources.

“I completed my doctorate and post-doctorate in record short time, but I came back as I want to be a role model for those who want to do something for their own country,” says Dr Khattak who returned home last year with a hope that he could turn his ideas into a reality for the benefit of his own people.

Sarhad Development Authority has so far shown support and asked Dr Khattak to come up with project proposals related to renewable energy, which could be turned into a reality.

Source: Dawn News.