The story of the development of PIEAS is one of organic growth. Over the years, it has undergone several metamorphoses, each of which has radically changed many of its outward physical characteristics, while maintaining a basic continuity in its academic traditions and fundamental objectives. It is an old institution with a new name. The seeds for this institution were sown more than 40 years ago in 1967.
By 1969, this training programme had been imparted sufficient depth and breadth for Quaid-i-Azam University (then called the University of Islamabad), to accept it for the award of a Masters' degree in nuclear technology, with Reactor School being formally affiliated to the University through its Physics Department. To broaden participation and encourage greater competitiveness in this programme, a Fellowship programme was instituted in 1972, under which engineering graduates and M.Sc. degree holders in the physical sciences were invited to compete directly for the award of attractive fellowships for the duration of the course. This pattern of selection for the fellowships purely on merit through an intensely competitive process involving written and oral examinations conduced on a national basis, has been successfully followed every year over the past three decades.
With its expanding activities, additional space became of paramount importance and therefore a separate building was constructed, and CNS shifted to it in 1978. In its continuing evolution, almost a decade later, its affiliatory relationship with Quaid-i-Azam University underwent a major change and CNS was granted much greater academic autonomy. The expansion of training facilities at CNS was to be an important component of this general objective. To accommodate the new laboratories, lecture-halls and other facilities which were mandated by this expansion programme, several new blocks of buildings had to be constructed and laboratory equipment acquired. This process is still continuing. The enhancement in its infra-structure that created the capability for offering programmes in many different fields meant that the institution had outgrown its old name and a new one was needed. Therefore, its name was changed to "Pakistan Institute of Engineering & Applied Sciences" (PIEAS), in 1997.
It has always been a stimulating challenge for the faculty to begin with a group of people with diverse backgrounds and travel with them towards the unified goal of understanding the complex systems and processes involved in nuclear technology. In all modern industrial undertaking, computers, instrumentation and control systems play a central role. With the breathtaking rate of development in these fields, their importance is increasing rapidly. To train manpower requirements in this vital area, the M.Sc. (Systems Engineering) programme was initiated here in 1988.
The commencement of the M.Sc. (Nuclear Medicine) programme in 1989 has been a major departure for the institution from its original base of engineering and physical sciences. It has now matured as a nationally and internationally recognized programme, having been approved by the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) as a post-graduate qualification equivalent to an 'Intermediate Diploma', while the Quaid-i-Azam University recognizes it as being equivalent to an M.Phil. degree for the purpose of registration in the subsequent Ph.D. programme which has also been initiated here. Because of the very close association of several of the leading international experts in the field with its design and implementation, it has had a high degree of visibility and acceptance in the international academic domain. This has been further reinforced in recent years by the work of some of our graduates who are now engaged in Ph.D. studies in several institutions around the world. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recognizing the high academic standards of this programme has included it amongst those that it actively sponsors in the form of Fellowships for attending it. In the formulation and implementation of our academic programme, we have been guided primarily by two basic objectives.
PIEAS now has nearly 30 laboratories in different areas for conducting students' experiments as well as for R&D work. Besides the regular academic programmes, PIEAS has conducted a large number of courses on various specialised topics. The length of these courses has varied from 2 to 18 months and the areas covered have included reactor supervision and operation, health physics, medical physics, laser technology, vacuum technology, computer applications and advanced reactor safety. PIEAS is engaged in manpower development programmes at many levels and in many directions, but the major thrust of our efforts is directed towards postgraduate academic work. At this level, research and development activities become an integral part of the educational process. PIEAS tries to ensure that all of our Masters' graduates get some experience of independent work on an R & D project relevant to their background and interest.
To facilitate collaboration amongst faculty members on R & D work, a number of technical groups have been formed within PIEAS which cover almost the whole spectrum of disciplines involved in nuclear energy applications. Faculty members are also encouraged to undertake collaborative work with other PAEC establishments, as well as with other universities and R & D organisations. A number of such efforts are underway and fruitful results have been obtained from many of them. PIEAS faculty members have published more than 400 papers in international journals. A large part of the R&D work has also been reported in the hundreds of Masters' dissertations and technical reports that are regularly prepared. The Ph.D. programme has been instituted relatively recently here, but is now receiving much more attention as the avenues for education at the highest level in technical fields are being increasingly blocked by the industrialised countries. Currently there are more than 12 doctoral candidates registered in the Ph.D. programmes in Nuclear Engineering, Systems Engineering, Nuclear Medicine and Computer Science. In the future, we expect to see a substantial increase in this number.
At PIEAS, traditionally, the focus has been on education, training and academic R&D. But, recently efforts have also been made to apply the expertise available here to industrial R&D. In this context, several products of industrial use, like PC-controlled drill machine, PC-controlled milling machine, and robotic manipulators have been developed. Specialized systems for educational purposes such as PC-controlled multi-variable tank have also been supplied to various institutions.