APSENA 25th Anniversary Conference on Renewable Energy held at Houston

Houston, TX: The Association of Pakistani Scientists and Engineers of North America (APSENA) held its 25th Anniversary Conference on November 22-23, 2008 in Houston, Texas.   

The meeting was unprecedented in many ways. It brought together the past presidents of the association and was attended by an impressive number of academics, students, industry, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, policy makers, and consortia. The participants discussed renewable energy, a topic of immense interest to the economies of the US and Pakistan.  And for the first time in its history, APSENA had a woman chair the meeting as President of the association.   

“The conference provided an excellent opportunity for the attendees to express their opinions and hear from a galaxy of experts on issues of immense importance such as energy crisis and energy security in Pakistan,” said Nusrat Naqvi, conference chair, professor of biology at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who led the meeting as the current President of APSENA.  In her concluding remarks APSENA president Naqvi acknowledged the efforts of past presidents and board members in keeping the forum active.
APSENA Founder Amanullah Khan, a former advisor to President George Bush, encouraged the attendees to continue to work jointly in areas of critical interest to the US and Pakistan, as outlined in APSENA’s vision.  With the total energy consumption to double by 2050 to 30 Terrawatt, and carbon dioxide emissions to double by the end of the 21st century, according to the US National Academies, “the conference theme provided the perfect opportunity for discussions pertaining to renewable energy” stated Irfan Ahmad of the University of Illinois Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology.
Session topics included wind energy, biofuels, nanotechnology and renewable energy, and entrepreneurship in an uncertain economy.   The keynote presentation was made by Adil Najam, Professor of Global Public Policy at Boston University, who was a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.   Professor Najam urged the attendees to focus on education in Pakistan, and  work to uplift the poverty-stricken segments of Pakistan society.  Chairman of the Senate in the Pakistani Parliament Muhammadmian Soomro, and Commercial Attaché at the Pakistan Consulate Zia Ahmed in Houston also delivered remarks at the evening session. 

The APSENA meeting was co-sponsored by the Pakistani American Chamber of Commerce, with representation by Chamber President Muhammad Saeed Shaikh.  The SW Region of APSENA hosted the meeting led by Co-chairs Mohammad Mukhtar and Syed Kazimi.
Congressman Nick Lampson (D-TX), who serves on agriculture and science committees, and chairs the energy and environment sub-committee made introductory remarks, and appreciated the contributions of Pakistani scientists and engineers to the economy of the United States.  He stated that he looked forward to APSENA establishing partnerships between US and Pakistan in the area of renewable energy technologies.  Houston Mayor Bill White sent his representative with a Proclamation indicating Nov. 22-23, 2008 as Association of Pakistani Scientists and Engineers of North America Days.
The conference identified areas of mutual interest to the US and Pakistan in the renewable energy sector.  On the second day of the conference, attendees chalked out strategies to harness the potential of  Pakistani scientists and engineers to ensure their  contribution to federal agencies in the US and Pakistan.  Saqib Rasool, a first time attendee and an angel investor, remarked that he was “overawed on just being in the presence of such a galaxy of scientists and engineers of Pakistani origin”.
G A Shirazi, former chief in the department of mines, Oklahoma gave an overview of the opportunities and challenges in mining Thar coal deposits in Pakistan.  Syed H Imam of the United States Department of Agriculture, discussed biomass and biofuels, and Asif Malik of MGP Ingredients, Illinois spoke about the business and industrial challenges in the generation of biofuels.  Ismat Shah, professor at the University of Delaware, provided insight into photovoltaic power generation/solar energy.  Michael Skelly discussed at length the generation of wind energy and its applicability to Pakistan. Irfan Ahmad of the University of Illinois cited several nanotechnology-based solutions for developing renewable energy.  Faisal Khan of UBS Financial Services and Aamir Khan of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce spoke about the financial and business challenges and opportunities in developing renewable energy technologies.  Panels of experts discussed issues of immediate interest including investments, commercialization of technologies, and entrepreneurship.
“The conference was webcast for the benefit of Pakistan division of APSENA, and other institutions in Pakistan and the US, as we brought together foremost thought leaders in the area of renewable energy” said Conference Co-Chair Syed Safdar Kazimi.  The attendees also enjoyed poetry and musical evening sessions.
The conference reiterated the need to develop renewable energy technologies for green economy and recommended that its members work in tandem with other organizations to advance these goals.  The conference was attended by delegates from across the US, including those from CA, DE, IL, LA, OH, OK, MA, NY, PA, TX, VA, and WA.
For more information contact Nusrat Naqvi, President, APSENA, nhnaqvi@aol.com<mailto:nhnaqvi@aol.com>
About APSENA: The Association of Pakistani Scientists and Engineers of North America (APSENA) endeavors to foster cooperation among scientists and engineers of Pakistani origin in North America and their institutions to not only increase their contributions to science and technology in the United States of America and Canada, but concurrently disseminate knowledge and provide expertise to Pakistan and other developing countries to help alleviate global challenges such as food, water, healthcare, energy, environment, and security. 




Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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