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ASU to establish energy partnership center in Pakistan

ASU solar panels

Arizona State University, a leader in solar energy, is partnering with two leading Pakistani universities on a five-year energy studies program to improve that nation's power production.
Photo by: Arizona State University

June 02, 2015

Leaders from Arizona State University will join a ceremony in Islamabad on June 3 to officially launch a five-year energy studies partnership with two leading Pakistani universities to improve that nation’s power production.

The U.S. Agency for International Development awarded the $18 million project to ASU to establish the Partnership Center for Advanced Studies in Energy (PCASE) in association with Pakistan’s National University of Science and Technology in Islamabad and the University of Engineering and Technology-Peshawar.

PCASE is one element of the broader U.S.-Pakistan Centers for Advanced Studies in Energy, Water, Agriculture and Food Security.

“This exciting new partnership serves as a shining example of both Arizona State University’s global reach and our pioneering work in sustainability and energy production,” said John Shumaker, PCASE project director and fellow at ASU College of Public Service and Community Solutions and the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. “This is a tremendous opportunity for our researchers and students, as well as our partners in Pakistan.”

The university’s focus on research, innovation and entrepreneurship make this project “the right fit” for ASU, said Shumaker. ASU also has a track record of successful rapid evolution and particular expertise in “lean-launch” of research centers, with more than 30 established in the past decade, as well as deep strength in energy research and engineering education.

“This project will be challenging in many ways,” Shumaker said. “But it will also have some great opportunities.”

Project organizers envision, in five years, a highly functioning center operating as seamlessly as possible between the two universities so they, in turn, can continue to find innovative and coordinated ways to boost Pakistan’s energy production. 

“Seventy to 80 percent of the Pakistani population does not have steady electricity,” Shumaker said.

Energy shortages are a daily challenge in a nation with the potential to be an “economic tiger,” which British economist Jim O’Neill said could be the 18th-largest economy in the world by 2050.

ASU staff will partner with Pakistani counterparts to develop PCASE by focusing on growing capacities in governance, curriculum, applied research, exchanges and scholarships, and institutional sustainability. The driving force will be graduate education and research.

A small ASU-contracted staff will work in Pakistan with ASU faculty visiting throughout the year.  The Pakistani universities also will send faculty and graduate students to ASU for further education and training throughout the lifespan of the project.

An important project element not being overlooked is security. ASU project planners have developed a comprehensive and detailed security plan to support the university’s work in Pakistan. They have also partnered with the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad and with Pakistani officials to ensure appropriate security measures are in place.

“We will follow all Department of State security protocols that are exercised regularly by other Americans working abroad,” said Shumaker, who has lived in Pakistan for the past several years. “We also have great support from the Pakistani government, and they are committed to our safety.”

The project contract also includes other universities fulfilling the role of sub-awardees. These universities will assist ASU by providing a range of expertise, including specialized assets in conventional and alternative energy engineering curricula, research centers and lab design, and private stakeholder networks in Pakistan.