|Vice-Chancellor of the Information Technology University|
Assumed office |
20 January 2013
|Chairman of the Punjab Information Technology Board|
Assumed office |
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Post-Doc, |
University of Cambridge, PhD
Lahore University of Management Sciences, BE
Umar Saif (Urdu: عمر سیف) (born 1979) is a Pakistani computer scientist and academic. He has been the vice-chancellor of the Information Technology University since January 2013 and the chairman of the Punjab Information Technology Board since November 2011. From November 2016 he has been a member of the provincial cabinet of Punjab.
After studying computer science at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), Saif received his doctorate from the University of Cambridge at the age of 22. He then moved to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where he completed his post-doctorate degree. Saif returned to Pakistan in 2005 and joined LUMS where he taught as an associate professor of computer science between 2006 and 2013.
Saif attended Aitchison College before enrolling at Lahore University of Management Sciences where he obtained a bachelor of science degree in computer science in 1998. He received a doctor of philosophy degree in computer science from the University of Cambridge at the age of 22 in 2001. In 2002 he received a post-doctorate degree from MIT, also in computer science. From 2001 to 2005 he taught at MIT and worked at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) as a research scientist, becoming part of the team which developed Project Oxygen.
Upon returning to Pakistan in 2005 Saif joined LUMS where he worked as an associate professor of computer sciences between 2006 and 2013. He became one of the youngest tenured professors at LUMS in 2009. While teaching full-time, Saif carried out several research projects.
In 2010 Saif was named as Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. In 2011 he was placed on MIT's TR35 list, naming him as one of the world's top 35 young innovators for developing a bittorrent client, BitMate, and a text message-based social network, SMSall. The same year he became the first Pakistani to receive the Google's Faculty Research Award. Upon learning of his achievements the Chief Minister of the Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif, invited Saif to head the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB). In November 2011 he was appointed Chairman of the PITB. In his role as Chairman of the PITB Saif was made responsible for all public-sector information technology projects in Punjab. In 2012 he established Pakistan's first technology incubator, Plan 9, with financial support from the government and became known for introducing the startup culture to Pakistan. He also founded Pakistan's first start-up incubator, SCI. In response to the 2011 outbreak of dengue fever in Pakistan PITB, under Saif's supervision, developed a smartphone-based early warning system to assist medical teams in curbing the outbreaks which received extensive recognition. He was also commended for computerizing the land records in Punjab.
On 20 January 2013 Saif was appointed as the first and founding Vice Chancellor of the Information Technology University (ITU) by the Government of Punjab. At the age of 34, he became the youngest vice chancellor of a university in Pakistan at the time. In November 2016 he was inducted into the Punjab provincial cabinet of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and was appointed as an adviser to the Chief Minister. In March 2017 Saif began co-hosting the reality television series Idea Croron Ka as a business expert.
In 2006, Saif received the Digital Inclusion Award from Microsoft Research. In 2008 he received the MIT Technovator Award. The same year he received the Mark Weiser Award and the IDG CIO Technology Pioneer Award. In August 2014 Saif was awarded the Sitara-i-Imtiaz by the Government of Pakistan for his services in the field of education and information technology. In 2015 and again in 2016 he was named as one of the 500 most influential Muslims. In March 2017 he was awarded the Alumni Award in the professional achievement award category by the British Council. In April 2018, he was appointed UNESCO chair for using Information and Communication Technology for Development.
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