About Me

Why Engineering?

I was born in a small village in Punjab, Pakistan; where the society would recommend two professions namely “Engineer or Army Officer” for a newly born baby boy; and “Doctor” for a baby girl. With a limited exposure back then, I was determined to make my mark in any of these fields. Not to my astonishment, I was declared unfit for Army due to short-sightedness and my fate was decided as Engineer Awais. However, since then I never felt disappointment with regard to my field of education. I often say that I got Engineering by chance and I thank God for making the right decision for me.

5 Years in a Military Boarding Institution!

I once collapsed in the middle of a packed dormitory. The four times annual academic topper in school was squirming on the ground like a helpless infant. I was hurt because my parents had sent me in a boarding institution thousands of miles away from my home. Never did I think then, that these 5 years of hostel life would have a huge positive impact on my personality.

It was April 2004 when I entered the forbidden gates of Cadet College Hasan Abdal, Pakistan at an age of 13, leaving behind the action packed years of childhood. Gone were the home made dinners, mother’s good night tales and father’s moral lectures; gone were the opportunities for watching movies and playing video games. I was now in a military environment and surely it was their way or the highway. As days melted into weeks into months, I realized how I was being shaped in their style. Hardships of hostel life in a disciplined environment coupled with my competitive attitude groomed me mentally and physically. I soaked up every aspect of a successful independent life like a sponge and left the baggage of my past behind. I still can’t figure out why I was chosen as a Section Commander of my batch. I certainly wasn’t the brightest student of the college and my family pedigree reflected no blue blood. My father served as a Quantity Surveyor in a local firm of Kuwait. My mother grew up unceremoniously in a small town of Haripur. Yet, I was honored by the rank. Perhaps they liked my hunger for work. Here I was, determined to avail every opportunity to prove my worth in many domains from sports, declamations and stand-up performances to academics.

In 2007, I topped my institution by securing 9 out of 9 A’s in GCE O’Level Examinations held by Cambridge Board. In 2008 I won the All Pakistan Declamation Contest held in Cadet College Palindiri. In 2009, I passed the 12th Grade Examination with distinction and was ranked 9th in the entire Punjab Province.

Why Electrical Engineering?

Biology or Mathematics. A student beginning high school in my country has to choose between one of these two options. Born in the same society, my parallel interest in biology and mathematics was never understood by anyone. Even in school I had a dream to build software named Google Brain; similar to the Google earth that would zoom into a human brain and display the various parts and the paths of neurons circulating within it. I believed so because our brains are no less vast than this earth. Later after school, I could not find any well reputed institution offering Biomedical Engineering Programs. Hence, I opted for a possible alternative. I joined the Electrical Engineering department in National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

4 Years of Professional Education in NUST!

In 2009, I joined the Electrical Engineering Department in National University of Sciences and Technology, Pakistan. Already learned from my alma mater, adjusting to alien environment was never a problem for me.  In fact living in dorms and sharing whatever gems of knowledge with students from various backgrounds induced healthy curiosity as to how people living in different parts of the world live their lives so differently. With Electrical, Mechanical, Computer and Mechatronics Departments inside one boundary, I was encouraged to participate in interdisciplinary projects rather than restricting myself. These were the years when I started experiencing new educational fields around me. I appreciate the continuous support of my University administration especially Rector NUST who often arranged seminars on a variety of topics including engineering, entrepreneurship, public administrations, professional ethics etc. that helped students discover their interests in professional life. I learned how the combination of Engineering and Entrepreneurship results in an excellent composition of technology, product development, intelligence, independence, flexibility, patience and precise decision making. In my final year, I entered the world of entrepreneurship with a huge idea of offering social media, event management and online shop under one domain name. However, the product faced strong resistance both financially and socially. Yet, it didn’t faze me. No. Nothing does! With a very flexible attitude, I immediately stepped into the market to polish my iterations. I knew I had to fail as fast as possible.

Learning how to sell, gave me a lot of information of our customers, their needs and affordability. Our idea of raising a coal ash brick manufacturing plant in the suburbs of Lahore, helped us grab the Third Place in All Pakistan Prime Minister’s Entrepreneurial Challenge DISCOVER held in NUST.

Research Experience in Robotics and Intelligent Systems Laboratory (RISE) NUST!

I always wondered what makes Man so unique and intriguing. Man is not the fastest, strongest or most agile animal – but it is, physiologically, a best all-rounder and can perform optimally when put in any environment. We walk with flawless perfection, however making a robot walk with a human-like gait is the biggest engineering challenge of modern robotics. To answer this problem, I led my team under the supervision of Dr. Fahad Mumtaz and Dr. Yasar Ayaz in Design, Control and Fabrication of a 12 Degrees of Freedom Biped walker (precursor to a complete humanoid) from the fundamental software model to real-time hardware implementation. The project was a unique amalgam of a number of Engineering and Medical Streams all the way from Human Physiology and Bionics to software programming; and circuit theory to robotics design; and manipulator control and mechanical fabrication. Unlike the western world that has gone miles in humanoid research, Pakistan has yet to build its own complete humanoid robot. We feel proud to call our project as a precursor to the first humanoid robot of Pakistan.

My research experience in Robotics and Intelligent Systems Laboratory (RISE) in NUST helped me design an algorithm for Synchronous Interpolation Position Controller that accurately generates a walking pattern for our biped walker. The names of my team fellows are now listed in RISE laboratory as pioneers of the first biped walker of Pakistan – a precursor to a complete humanoid. The research project helped me understand and design the mechanical model and electrical controls of humanoid legs. It polished up my concepts related to mass balancing and weight distributions in dynamic online systems. Budget limitation was the biggest hurdle we faced for our walker. Along with the project development, I spent a lot of time doing local market surveys and dealing with technicians. We managed to fabricate every single part of our design locally in our manufacturing workshop. The research experience helped me learn and practice the milling, drilling and lathe machines used for cutting or shaping aluminium plates. I also spent a few weeks on CNC Machine to design critical joints of our walker.

One year Experience at Advanced Technology Company, Kuwait

Soon after graduation I got an opportunity to work as a Field Service Engineer in Diagnostics Imaging Department (DID) at Advanced Technology Company (ATC) Kuwait. It is the largest Biomedical Company active in Kuwait. Equipment that I study includes the Gamma Cameras, SPECT/CT, PET/CT, Cyclotron, Fractionators and Dispensers. Extensive learning from manuals and books; discussions with doctors, technologists and pharmacists; and Online GE/COMECER support strengthens my knowledge and trouble-shooting skills on the field. Such technical discussions with the end user induce healthy curiosity as to how the present day issues may be solved by future technologies. Nevertheless the scheduled technical training sessions planned by ATC for its engineers help me learn the European and American way of working on machines. My recent diagnosis of high ground impedance in a PET/CT input power at Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences was widely appreciated by the senior management and it saved CT detector boards from going bad. Insulation breakdown was the key cause for this high ground impedance. The matter was brought into notice of other support engineers – who are looking for ways to avoid similar problems in future.

Being part of DID for the last few months made me realize the angelic job nature of a biomedical engineer. We work 24/7 to ensure that the patients are properly and timely diagnosed when they visit the hospital. However, at many times; I experience patients getting delayed due to equipment failures. Working in such critical situations teaches me the principles of logical trouble shooting and decision making. Nevertheless, it also demands patience and control over once emotions as the doctors’ often target service engineers for equipment failure. Working as Service Engineer also demands up to date information on the new medical technologies being introduced in the global market so as to help the sales team in expanding the company’s business. Punctuality and teamwork are other necessary skills that I find necessary for my job. I always answer the complaint calls as soon as possible regardless of weekends or public holidays. I stay true to myself and approach the new problems with full attention and focus. I never let the complexity of the situation overwhelm me. I rule the problem confidently and never lose the prospective that I AM the one to solve it. I am a calculated risk-taker and never hesitate in seeking guidance from seniors if a situation exists beyond my knowledge.

How I got into KTH Royal Institute of Technology – Sweden?

I take immense pleasure in my work and aim to be an important part of the multinational companies and work with engineers who manufacture these medical technologies – for which an in-depth understanding of living systems and technology is essential. I strongly feel that my current level of education shall never suffice the threshold I need for an excelling career.

A post-graduate education in a related field is necessary, that won’t only strengthen my knowledge on the subject, but also allow me to work more confidently with other engineers.
I had never studied a formal course in Biomedical Engineering during my Undergraduate degree but during my Final Year thesis and a year work experience, I had the perfect opportunity to expand my knowledge of the biomedical domain. I simultaneously started preparations for GRE and TOEFL (Graduate Record Examination) test offered by ETS. It is a requirement in many graduate schools. My hard work paid off as I scored high on GRE. I was motivated further towards my goals.

Having prepared all documents like attested transcripts and degree, test scores, CV, Motivation and Recommendation letters; I was all set to release my application to various graduate schools across the globe. In order to apply to graduate schools, I had to consider the following factors.

  • Course offering at a particular school
  • Ranking of the particular school on different tables
  • Research collaborations of the department
  • Industrial links of the university
  • Cost of the course for international students
  • Immigration rules of the country where I send my application

Quality of education is a significant consideration when looking for opportunities in higher education abroad. I applied to various US, Canadian, German and Swedish universities. I got acceptance letters from all places of priority. I chose KTH- Royal Institute of Technology for general reasons. The details hitherto will suffice..

  • The university has been constantly ranked very high for Engineering courses on all tables (QS, Times and ARWU).
  • The university constitutes one third of Sweden’s technology research.
  • The cooperation between the university and industry is widely known of.
  • KTH has been home to many renowned inventors, entrepreneurs and professors.
  • KTH is also home to Nobel Prize laureates.
  • KTH is located in the heart of Sweden: Stockholm.
  • The quality and standard of life in the Nordic countries is excellent and Sweden encourages multi-cultural environment with focus on international level research and education

Some personal reasons to choose KTH over other university options are as follows:

  • The course content for my postgraduate course in ‘Medical Engineering’ is as I had expected. The Medical Engineering Campus is located in Flemingsberg which is one of Europe’s key area in terms of biotechnology where thousands of students are involved in extensive medical research.
  • I will have the opportunity to practice as a Medical Engineer in Sweden’s diverse industry or join R&D upon graduation from KTH.
  • The cost of living and studying in KTH is affordable.
  • Lifestyle in the capital Stockholm is appealing and Swedish people seem hospitable.
  • Accommodation at the University is very comfortable.
  • Last but not least, KTH Research Collaboration with the globally recognized Karolinska Institutet and Karolinska Universitetssjukhuset motivated me to be a part of KTH family.

27th March 2013, I got the good news of being admitted to KTH. My focus shifted to student visa process for Sweden. I am grateful to the website “studyinsweden.com” that clearly guided me through the entire application process. I’m currently a resident of Kuwait. There is no Swedish Embassy in Kuwait. I paid my first semester fee to KTH. The next steps were explained to me by the international students’ support office at KTH. Upon an appointment with a consulate in Abu Dhabi, UAE, I travelled to UAE for 2 days to submit my biometric data.

My Student Visa has been approved now by the Swedish Immigration and I will be joining KTH in September 2014 as a MSc. student of Medical Engineering in School of Technology and Health located in Flemingsberg. I have been given accommodation in Drottning Kristinas väg, Tekniska Högskolan. These single corridor rooms are located in KTH Main Campus. Hence, I now have a perfect opportunity to experience the life in KTH Flemingsberg and KTH Main Campus.
One hurdle that I feel I will encounter is language. I am an expert user of English, Urdu and Arabic languages. However, I am learning Swedish and shall practice the use of language as soon as I step in Sweden.

I plan to be a Pakistani Student Ambassador in Sweden. I wish to represent Pakistan in Sweden and help talented Pakistani fellows in building ties of friendship and trust in this beautiful country! I have strong intentions of giving back to KTH and Sweden as they both will foster and groom me well as a Medical Engineer in days to come!