Pakistani students, Kalim Ullah, Maria Aftab and Asadullah ICT championship
Pakistani students, Kalim Ullah, Maria Aftab and Asadullah, have emerged as the champions of the Huawei ICT Competition Middle East 2020. Image Credit: Supplied by winning team

Islamabad: Pakistani students have emerged as the champions of the Huawei Information and communications technology (ICT) Competition Middle East 2020, winning the top two coveted spots. The team of three Pakistani students, Kalim Ullah, Maria Aftab and Asadullah, won first place in the regional tech contest and qualified for the final global competition.

Pakistan team won US$20,000 and job offers

More than 15,000 students and 440 universities from all over the world participated in the event held virtually this year. The final leg included 13 teams from 27 universities in which Team Pakistan 1 emerged victorious, winning prizes that include $20,000, Huawei MateBook laptops, smartphones and also a chance to join Huawei Pakistan. The winning students are from National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) and Mehran University of Engineering and Technology Jamshoro. The win has enthused the students to secure a position in the final round too.

Exciting and proud moment

Talking to Gulf News, a member of the winning team, Kalim Ullah, said it was an “exciting and incredibly proud” moment for Pakistan. “It is a huge honour to represent Pakistan in the esteemed competition and to bring glory to our country” said Kalim, who is pursuing a Master’s degree in Information Technology at NUST Islamabad.

Thousands of students from Pakistan applied for the highly competitive contest but Huawei selected the top 500. “The list was further narrowed down to 150 students” who were offered free training and virtual classes during the preliminary round. Finally, the best 30 students from Pakistan were chosen for the final national round and top 6 shortlisted for the Huawei ICT Middle East competition, Asadullah explained, adding that “we were among the six lucky Pakistanis selected for the regional contest.”

Unique learning experience

The Huawei Information and communications technology (ICT) competition that started a few years back has gained tremendous popularity among university students in Pakistan. “Last year, two of my class fellows participated which motivated me to apply this year” shared Kalim. The students were glad that the Chinese tech giant offered them an immersive learning opportunity during the coronavirus period that affected global education system. “It was a unique experience as we witnessed the power of distance learning in its fullest form during the pandemic.” For Maria too, learning was the most important aspect of the contest that came along with “generous monetary benefits.”

The ICT competition

During the course of the competition, the students attended multiple training sessions and took different exams. In most of the contests, the skills and ICT knowledge were tested, however, with “each stage the knowledge level increased substantially” she felt. In the final round, the team was challenged to solve a topology of a computer network under specific scenarios and conditions within seven hours (6 hours lab task and 1 hour written exam) during which they “had to establish the communication of key computer network with its several branches across the globe” the student described.

Second prize also won by Pakistan team 2

Interestingly, the second prize was also bagged by Team Pakistan 2, which included Fawad Hassan from Balochistan University of Information Technology (BUITEMS), Umair Imran from University of Central Punjab, Lahore, and Saqib Hussain from Mehran University of Engineering and Technology. Team Iraq was also ranked second while Team Lebanon, Team Bahrain and Team Oman 1 secured the third prize.