18/11: 2nd International Conference on Emerging Technologies 2006 (ICET 2006)

I recently attended the 2nd International Conference on Emerging Technologies (13th and 14th of November, 2006) where I met quite a few people, including but not limited to various UET Peshawar students and conference speakers.

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This has been the second international conference which I have attended as a volunteer organizer. I left Islamabad, for Peshawar, on Sunday the 12h of November and reached the UET Peshawar Engineering campus at around 5 PM. From there we proceeded to Peshawar Services Garrison Club where we got a general tour and some instructions regarding our tasks the next day. I enjoyed this conference a lot but the tiredness was something I could have done without.

There were three volunteers from my university and our accommodations were at the UET faculty hostels which were quite good. Furthermore, our hosts made us feel very much at home.

There were parallel sessions for the paper presentations alongside poster sessions for the papers which couldn't be accommodated in the halls. In all, around 150 papers were presented. Since this was the first international conference in Peshawar, this is a significant achievement for the folks at UET Peshawar and the people of Peshawar.

The governor of NWFP attended the conference on the first day and on seeing his Mercedes car, my first thought was that the man probably doesn't does the work worth the cost of that car. The conference hall was sealed which caused inconvenience to a lot of people. Apart from that, we had various tasks to perform, including the tasks at the registration desk and guiding delegates. The advise given to us before the start of the conference was and I quote, "Think of this as a picnic." What I can rightfully say is, it was anything but a picnic. My sore feet were a testament to that!

That night we had a banquet which was very enjoyable. Some awards were given to the organizers and we had a Pashto singer sing for us. I didn't understand the lyrics but the music was good. After the dinner ended, the students of UET Peshawar danced to Pashto songs. When the banquet came to an end, I asked why they were ending it so early at 11:00 PM and I was told that this was Peshawar. I understood the meaning of that statement a while later when I saw the silent empty roads while on the way to our accommodations.

We had the same tasks on the second day of the conference. On both of the days, I listened to papers which were interesting to me. The two tutorials; one on WiMax (on the first day) by Mr. Raziq Yaqub of Toshiba America Research and the second on Hybrid Vehicles (on the second day) by Mr. Iftikhar (former Program Manager) of General Motors, America were very interesting for me. I had some discussion with Mr. Raziq Yaqub regarding WiMax and it's possible success now that Wateen Telecom has signed a deal with Motorola for setting up a WiMax network in Pakistan which is the largest deployment of WiMax in the world. Our conclusion was that high CPE costs (in the order of $300-400 for fixed mobility) could hinder the proliferation of WiMax and its acceptance by the consumers. My fellow volunteers left for Islamabad in the evening since they had some test coming up the next day. I also discussed the exploitation of the MSDN:AA program in Pakistan with a Microsoft representative and the reasons why Microsoft has not opened a corporate office in Pakistan. I must say I am severely disappointed over this attitude of Microsoft and the resultant piracy issues in the country. They can cry all they want about piracy in Pakistan but unless they do something to actually stop it (and the BSA raids on businesses don't count), they have no right to whine about it. I also talked to him about the recent deal between Microsoft and Novell but he refused any knowledge of said deal.

I decided to stay over for the symposium on nanotechnology the next day. The day ended with the closing ceremony and a dinner.

I woke up late the next day and took a taxi to UET Peshawar which was the venue for the symposium. I was given a tour of the campus and taken to the hall where I registered and sat down waiting for the conference to start. There were some boring presenters particularly Dr. F.A. Khalid from GIKI, Topi and Dr. Mazhar Mahmood from PIEAS, Islamabad. Dr. Arshad Saleem Bhatti and Dr. Ahmed Shuja from COMSATS, Islamabad, Dr. Ruh Ullah from NUST (NIIT) and Dr. Ikram ul Haq gave very interesting presentations regarding their activities on nanotechnology. I learned quite a bit from this symposium about the activities regarding nanotechnology is Pakistan and the active participation from many people in this field. I wish Dr. N.M. Butt from Pakistan Science Foundation had also participated in this symposium. The end speech by the VC of UET Peshawar was quite long by the end of which I was short on time for reaching Daewoo bus station for my trip back to Islamabad.

With the help of a good friend, I was able to reach the bus station in time and departed Peshawar for Islamabad at 7:15. I read my Operating System text book on the way back in preparation for an assignment on threads which was to be submitted the next day (which I still haven't submitted yet - damn seasonal change allergies and illnesses). I reached Islamabad safely.

Overall, it was an interesting experience and this was my first trip on my own to some other city. I made some new contacts and some new friends at UET Peshawar. I hope I get a chance to get together with them at some other conference. I urge all students to attend such conferences in any capacity they can, to gain knowledge and increase their contact with people (local and abroad) who are working in fields related to our academics.
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