A Small Step Towards Greater Achievements
In 2008, the School of Science and Engineering (SSE) at LUMS, opened its doors to its first batch of approximately 200 students: their eyes gleaming in anticipation of a brighter future and their minds set on changing the scientific landscape of Pakistan. SSE was built with the vision that amidst these young minds would be the future leaders of science and technology by offering them the best teaching and research environment. But all big dreams must start with smaller steps. It is individuals within the SSE that must take these smaller steps towards the fulfillment of the SSE dream.
One such individual is Zain Yousaf, a Chemistry major, who has become the first student at SSE who has been offered a fully funded scholarship (USD 23k / annum) for a PhD programme at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign (UIUC), a top ten graduate school in USA. He recently secured 92 percentile score in an international test, the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) in Chemistry, which is exceptional in countries like Pakistan. His GRE subject score and subsequent admission at UIUC speaks volumes not only about the strength of his application but also about the strength and competitiveness of the programme that prepared him to achieve this feat. His achievement is further embellished by the fact that passing this international test was made compulsory (which requires students to obtain more than the 50 percentile) by HEC before someone can be awarded a PhD degree in chemistry in Pakistan. Zain Yousaf, still in the 7th semester of his undergraduate studies, scoring 92 percentile is a proof that even at this early stage, SSE is offering the best science education in Pakistan.
“I still remember being the only Chemistry major in my batch. It was exhilarating and frightening at the same time and even though the department has now grown to roughly 20 students, I still at times, miss being the odd ball,” says the enthusiastic young man. According to Zain, the greatest strength of the SSE’s Chemistry Department is the superior quality of student-faculty interaction. Zain also noted, “Learning in small groups is always more rewarding in the sense that you can’t doze off because the instructor knows exactly what you are missing and will most probably test you on that so you always have to be quick on your feet”.
Zain credits the course design and the rigorous curriculum which prepared him with the best tools any undergraduate education could provide to succeed in any field of science. “Courses like differential equations, Principles of Chemistry and Classical Mechanics really prepare you with the basic toolset to tackle any problem; whereas courses like Organic Chemistry and Molecular Symmetry create enthusiasm and provide you with more in-depth knowledge needed to excel in a particular field. I feel that it was the combination of all these courses that enabled me to do so well,” Zain muses. He also acknowledges the hard work put in by the entire faculty at the Chemistry Department. Each one helped him prepare by offering diverse yet complementary courses to ensure that there were no gaps left in the student’s knowledge to compete internationally.
Zain’s achievement is merely the start of something bigger for the SSE. Ultimately it will take the combined efforts of hundreds of students like him to fulfill the vision that SSE was created for. Zain’s success story is only the first of many more to come and it won’t be long before the LUMS SSE name is recognised among the top international universities, both as a regional giant and as a globally recognised institution of excellence in scientific education.