Pakistani Woman Industrial Designer Wins Lexus Global Design Award

Aqsa Ajmal, a graduate of Pakistan's National University of Science and Technology, is among six finalists for Lexus Design Award 2020 for industrial design.  Each of these finalists will receive 3 million Yen (over $25,000) in funding and mentorship in an exclusive program in New York City under the guidance of prominent design leaders from a variety of design fields.

Pursewit Sewing Machine. Source: Lexus

Aqsa's entry is named Pursewit. The device provides an easier way to incorporate sewing skills into income generation for the blind who rely upon touch and other senses. The thread path is much more simplified and streamlined; the user follows a straight, outlined path from the spool pin to the machine’s arm and through a loop, then down to the needle. The machine provides feedback at each step to ensure the process is completed, according to Lexus.

Aqsa Ajmal. Photo Credit Lexus
Aqsa's entry ranked among the top 6 from 2,042 submissions from 79 countries. The other finalists are from the China, France, Italy, Kenya, Russia and the United States.

Lexus describes Lexus Design Award competition as follows:

"Lexus Design Award provides a unique platform for young creators to demonstrate and further develop their talents. Founded in 2013 to support and foster up-and-coming creators, the program continues to evolve to inspire innovations in design that lead to a better tomorrow, and each year has seen a steady increase in number of entries from across the world. Last year, creators from 65 countries submitted 1,548 design proposals, many of which leveraged the power of technology."

Growing numbers of young Pakistanis are now participating and winning in international design and engineering competitions. Recent examples include Stanford Design ContestAI Family Challenge World Championship and International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition. These wins offer increasing evidence of Pakistan's expected demographic dividend.

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Pakistan Hi-Tech Exports Exceed A Billion US Dollars in 2018 

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Riaz Haq said…
BRIDGING THE STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering,Math) GAP...
By Adeela Akmal Tue, 02, 20
In light of International Day of Women & Girls in Science, this week You! exclusively talks to Zartaj about her exhilarating journey and ventures...

You! Why do you think space exploration needs to be talked about in Pakistan?

ZW: Space exploration is a very inclusive affair. It requires people from all walks of life and professions to support it and help it grow. Space exploration is one of the yardsticks by which a country’s scientific journey and progress are measured. Pakistan, unfortunately, is very low on that scale. There is little to no awareness for space exploration, space sciences and other associated fields. By bringing about awareness to these topics we’re navigating our younger generation to embrace the mysticism of space and answer some of its toughest questions.

You! Where does Pakistan stand in terms of Robotics on a global scale?

ZW: I’ve been taking robotics teams to international competitions all around the world since 2014. Our students are truly very gifted. However, when we go to these competitions, we lose sight of the spirit of competition and we’re only hung up on winning. With such mindsets, we go to extremes to make sure our teams and students win, even if it is not their hard work. This mindset needs to be quashed. Our students need to participate, excel and win on their own merit. This issue is a multi-faceted problem and hence the efforts need to be made in two to three dimensions. Starting from grassroots, we need to impart robotics education as part of the curriculum. Currently, very few schools participate in some international robotics programmes launched in Pakistan recently but haven’t been able to grow because of the upfront costs, costs of participation, etc. Research being conducted at universities is limited to publishing papers only and not followed through. There is a need for the application of this research and for creating opportunities in the field of robotics for people to work.

You! What is the market like for tech entrepreneurship in Pakistan and is there a niche for women?

ZW: Pakistan has one of the youngest populations in the world. This population adapts to technology very quickly and makes it a part and parcel of their daily lives. With this progress in Pakistan, the market is ripe for tech entrepreneurship ventures. Moreover, there are invigorating ventures in Pakistan that are solely aimed at bringing women entrepreneurs to the forefront such as SheLovesTech by Circle, WomenInTech by Pakistan Innovation Foundation & Standard Chartered, etc. In Pakistan, tech entrepreneurship ecosystem for women remains challenging because women are considered not to have the requisite skill set as compared to their male counterparts.

You! There is a concept that there aren’t many women coming in the STEM field. What are your thoughts?

ZW: That is true in a country like Pakistan; there are very few women in the STEM field. However, in more developed countries the ratio of men and women in STEM workplaces is less biased.

You! They say that Science and Maths are subjects that one is naturally good at. Do you think that’s the case?

ZW: Not entirely true. Some students might have the edge over other students however with practice everyone can hone their skills.
Riaz Haq said…
Here's Maha Yusuf introducing herself:

I was 16 when I left home, and I’ve worked very hard to become the independent 26-year-old that I am today. I was born in a rural village in Pakistan called Jhang, and grew up in a conservative Muslim family. I’m the first woman in my family to go to college, and I’m lucky to have been able to attend high school. In a male-dominated society, where females are not encouraged to go to school let alone to pursue higher education, I decided to become an engineer.

After college, I worked as a drilling specialist on oil rigs in the Amazon rainforests in Colombia. Aged 22, with barely a word of Spanish except ¡Hola!, and having lived in a protective environment all my life, I found myself working 16+ hours for 30-40 days at a time, sleeping in trailers on-site, and often the only woman on the rigs. It was hard work, but I was proud of myself, and excited to be independent. During the year of rigorous field work, I recognized the power of technology to solve real-world problems. I realized that solving problems was what I cared deeply about, and decided that I wanted to pursue advanced research in order to do this.

While in Colombia, I applied to graduate school at Stanford and got in. Currently, I’m a PhD student in Chemical Engineering. The primary focus of my research is to develop a high-resolution, fast-detection X-ray imaging system to improve traditional X-ray imaging. This work brings together multiple disciplines including optics, X-ray physics, microfluidics, chemistry and computer science. There are many applications, one being the potential to improve the diagnostic accuracy of early-stage breast cancer at a reduced radiation dose.

My mom is very proud of me. She keeps telling me that she didn’t live the life she wanted to, and she’s glad that I am pursuing my dreams. Hearing those words from her have motivated me to stay on my path. I was recently awarded the Schlumberger Faculty for the Future fellowship. The grant funds PhD studies of aspiring female professors from developing countries. My dream is to one day have a research lab and commercialize technologies that the lab develops. I’m passionate about research, but I want to make sure it has real-world applications.
Riaz Haq said…
U.S. Embassy Islamabad
Congrats to Team Invictus, a group of Pakistani students from Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute for winning 2nd place in the 2021 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (Design, Build and Fly) competition, beating MIT & Stanford!
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistani students win big in America's Design, Build and Fly competition
US Embassy in Pakistan congratulates GIKI's Team Invictus for bagging second position

The students of Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology (GIKI) participated in the Design, Build and Fly contest in the United States of America and bagged the second position. Team Invictus from GIKI managed to win the second prize in the competition hosted by American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

The competition had participation from students from all across the globe including renowned institutions such as MIT, UC Berkeley, and Stanford.

The 2021 iteration of the competition aimed to build and test a UAV with a towed sensor. All student teams were tasked to design, fabricate and demonstrate capabilities of their crewless radio-controlled aircraft, which is designed to meet a specific mission objective.

According to techjuice, GIKI's team used advanced manufacturing techniques which included 3D printed parts and a pod and boom aircraft configuration to get their design ready.

The prestigious contest is sponsored by the American Cessna Aircraft Company and Raytheon Missile Systems. The students of GIKI were also congratulated by the US Embassy in Pakistan on a Facebook post:

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