by Osman Ali Mian
It is not often that a person like me would engage in a debate over issues like whether university A is better than university B. But recently an article titled “Why I Chose IBA over FAST(Karachi) for BS Computer Science?” caught my attention. The writer of this article has presented a case where he explains his reasons to make a decision to choose IBA over FAST Karachi. As much as I respect the decision, I feel it my responsibility as an alumnus of FAST Karachi to correct a few misconceptions cum “reasons” put forward by the writer in their article. I do not find it necessary to make a comparison between two prestigious institutes in Pakistan, hence I will try my best to clarify the “Why Not FAST” part.
The Commute and The Karachi Campus: The writer puts forward the claim that the campus “isn’t much in itself as well”, the building “looks pretty out dated”, the “area isn’t safe” and that staying at university after the dark is not an option. While the latter I could agree with, the former seems like an impression being made purely based on looks which, in my opinion, seems pretty unjustified for a person who thinks logically.
The building that apparently looks outdated has great facilities including the state of the art CUDA LAB, which has specifically been sponsored and built by NVIDIA Graphics. That is not even the whole story, the frequent perks of being a Fastian includes complimentary licenses for Windows (thanks to Microsoft Dream spark), Visual Studio and number of Microsoft Products. Does the cliché don’t judge a book by its cover come to mind?
Adaption To What They Teach: The writer shows their dissatisfaction over the fact that admission test ran into “issues with the server”. Inconvenient? Perhaps. A decisive way to change your admission decision? Perhaps not! Having spent 4 wonderful years of my life at FAST, I find it safe to say that the quality of teaching we have here is exceptional. We have had our Final Year Projects sweep the winners as well as the runner up prize at [email protected] ITC awards.
If the audience must know, the methodology with which FAST conducts its admission test is unique on its own, each candidate gets a unique test and it’s generated 10 minutes before the start of the session from a pool of over 10,000 questions to prevent any “paper leak”. To add icing to the cake, you get to know your final score the very moment you click on “Finish Test” (Now which other university does that?). One server fault amidst all these amazing things should never be a deciding factor in my opinion.
No University Life: The writer claims that he discussed the campus life with former and present students and concluded that FAST Karachi ” has no life whatsoever. The events are at a bare minimum, the schedule is incredibly hectic, they make you programmers by making you do programming and so on. The writer might have been surprised had he decided to dig into facts rather than opinions.
I would let The FAST Photographer Club Facebook page handle the “Events are at the bare minimum part” (Do Check out the pictures of Ali Azmat’s concert, they’re my favorite!). FAST’s takes regular part in IBA Sports Gala (we were semi finalists in Football last year) as well as hosts its own inter university sports tournament by the name “Unilympics”, I would like to take this opportunity to invite the writer and the institute of IBA to come and participate in it. As far as hectic schedule is concerned, I fail to see how it serves as a negative impact, being a fan of poetry and idioms here is one of my favorite from Douglas Maloch’s poem titled Good Timber as a reply to writer’s opinion.
Good timber does not grow with ease:
The stronger wind, the stronger trees;
The further sky, the greater length;
The more the storm, the more the strength.
Last but not the least, the writer mentions that FAST makes you learn programming by making you do programming. I hate to state the obvious, but doesn’t practice makes perfect rule apply to everything? Ever asked yourself why FAST has won every IBA ProBattle’s speed programming competition since the event’s inception? As far as entrepreneur mindset is concerned, I’m sure the writer would know that most of the successful entrepreneurs were college dropouts.
What Really Matters?
Let’s talk about what really matters when you choose a university. Here is how I would select a university for myself.
The courses offered: FAST has a history of pioneering the most challenges courses and electives apart from the conventional course load: Neural Networks, Fundamentals of Computer Vision, Deep Learning, Network Security and many more. What is great about these is not just the courses themselves, but the depth in which these are taken. If that is hectic, I’d gladly take hectic!
The Alumni factor: Most of the top notch companies have FAST-ians sailoring their IT infrastructure and products. From Senior Architects to relatively lower level Analyst Software Engineers, are almost all FAST-ians in the industry. When it comes to entrepreneurship, we have graduates like Jawwad Farid, mentoring the “vision” the writer seemed to be looking for at incubators like NEST io, and Munir Usman and Asad Memon, the Co-Founders of the startup “Remote Interview”, Mr Khurram Hanif Kalia of KalSoft Pvt Limited, Farrukh Zafar, founder of Gagism and possibly many more. Heard of the Oscar winner Mir Zafar Ali? Guess where he graduated from!
Right Outside Your Comfort Zone: A lot of people think that location and traveling time to FAST-Karachi is a challenge. I am tempted to agree with this part, but I managed to take out positives from this as well. The hectic life at FAST taught me to practice coming out of my comfort zone every now and then. Be it our regular football tournaments inside campus or midterms sandwiched inside 3 hours, I knew I always had to be prepared for the unexpected and always be ready to jump out of my comfort zone. This groomed me in many ways than I expected.
The Concluding Note
We at FAST respect opinions and assure the writer that we do not think of him as a “biased self indulgent writer” The purpose of this response is not to compare IBA with FAST. Both are amazing institutes on their own. However I strongly feel that when the future prospective students decide to take their decision, they do it based on facts and not “looks of the campus”, “server faults” and “opinions of the students”.
The decision of a university is amongst the most important decisions any of us would make, and choosing a university for all the wrong reasons can come back to haunt you in a million ways. My four years at FAST have been nothing but a wonderful experience in unimaginable ways. I’d recommend FAST-Karachi campus to the enthusiastic and the dreamers any time of the day!
I am Osman Ali Mian, a proud FAST-ian.
Over and Out!
-  FAST Photographers Club: https://www.facebook.com/fast.photographers.club
-  Remote Interview: https://www.techjuice.pk/how-remoteinterview-io-is-changing-the-way-we-hire/
-  KalSoft: http://www.microsoft.com/middleeast/pakistan/isv/kalsoft.aspx
-  Farrukh Zafar: https://propakistani.pk/2012/06/29/pakistani-blog-gets-acquired-for-rs-10-million/