The value of Education looses when it is given a price tag

All these years every citizen of our country was blessed with free education and thanks to that the literacy rate was well over 90%. As Sri Lanka being a third world country majority of the citizens falls between middle and lower income category, so the free education plays a critical role to help build their lives by opening up the doors to reach out the world.

I’m happy to say that thanks to our country’s free education policy I was able to continue my education up to obtaining my Bachelor’s Degree, which helped me to engaged in a field that gave me the opportunity to give something valuable to my country and to its people. While I was in the university got the opportunity to enrich my knowledge across vast number of areas. Although my degree title says B. Sc. in Information Technology but the content of it didn’t restrict me to a limited knowledge domain. During my eight semesters and four June terms I took around 5o modules but for a student how does a similar degree in a private institute will get the opportunity to take just above half of it. In my three years of industry engagement I got the opportunity to work with just over 50 odd people and to interview nearly 100 candidates, the common factors I notice while working and interviewing people who obtained their bachelors degree from private institutions them are as follows.

  • Majority of them lack the knowledge of fundamentals.
  • Majority of them knew just to shoot out fancy words but failed to deliver results.
  • Majority of them lacked the enthusiasm of learning and advancing themselves to the next level.
  • Majority of them used that knowledge just to earn a salary.

By looking at the current situation of our country’s education I really feels scary about its future because we have come to a critical point which is at the verge loosing the benefit of free education. Our country has three ministers assigned to look after the activities of the education system but unfortunately what has happened can be easily describe by saying “too may cooks spoil the broth”.

  • Every year all the major public exams are full of faulty questions
  • Results of the public exams are faulty.
  • Officials responsible for the above mentioned issues were not properly punished and same issues were repeated every year.
  • Has drastically reduced the government funding over the years to less than 2 % of the GDP.

We should get together and join hands to protect the free education for our future generation, failing to do so will cause a great misery to the development of our country and will made our future generation suffer from it. For example currently the US citizens are facing a huge crisis settling the loans obtain for their education, lets not help to develop such a staggering environment here.


One mission Accomplished, what next?

The past four and half years was the most enjoyable and the productive years of my life. In this time I had all the freedom to explore into many areas of the society as a university student. This period left me many memorable things and also gave me the chance to decide what I’ll do in the future. Most of the occasions people welcome us so warmly and corporate well in most activities where normal citizen would had to put an extra effort do the same activity. In a way I’m so lucky that I was so fortunate to continue my higher education in the field I’m interested in and earn a degree from a state owned university. During this endeavor I got opportunities to share what I have learn for the benefit of the society both local(SLAF) and international(Sahana) activities.

Now the time has come for me to think and work in a more responsible manner because most of what I’ll do will have a bigger impact to my future. As a start I have to find a sufficient income to support my own expenses rather continue to put that burden on my parents. I was successful in getting over that, within a month time, completing the degree I found an exciting and challenging place to work. Its has been almost two months has passed since I join the company. It was very challenging where I got the opportunity to work directly with a client and carried out development of a software system. My target was to built a web based system that helps the parties (customers, salesmen, owner, manufacturers, suppliers, etc.. ) to carry out their tasks in a user friendly and with minimum effort. It was a very challenging task for me because I had to learn many things. Luckily for me the client (Stuart) I was contacting has worked as a software developer, so this helped me a lot in all means of activities. My deadline for the completing of the projects is only two weeks ahead. Looking at the progress so far I have achieved I believe that target is achievable. 🙂

During the latter part of October I did a presentation at a local conference for a research carried out for the Sahana project. The presentation was grate success. Fifteen papers were presented at the conference covering various fields such as Software Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Telecommunication Engineering. Sahana is a project that focuses on building a versatile tool for post disaster/emergency management activities in the world with the collaborative effort of dedicated volunteers from all around the world.

Sun’s JavaFx session at FIT

Today I got an opportunity to take part in a Sun’s JavaFX training session at our Faculty. This session was conducted by Mr. Feisal Ahmad from Singapore. He was currently a Senior Technology Consultant in Sun Learning Services at Sun Microsystems. Along with him some senior officials from Sun Microsystems visited our Faculty, this training session was part of their programme.

There was a session introducing the Sun Microsystems‘s new technology that enables all the Java developers (web component, standalone application and mobile application) to use a common technology for creating rich applications using a common user interface called JavaFX . For me it felt like they have combined the features of Java Swing, MIDP, JSP, JSF, etc for creating rich GUIs and JavaScript or VRML kind of syntax for implementing the properties and controls for these components sticking to Java‘s basic syntax.

During the morning session Feisal talk to us about the features and capabilities of JavaFX and how it can be used to make the life easy for developers in creating eye catching GUI applications which can be easily ported to run on any platform(Web, Mobile or Standalone). This further strengthen their saying ‘write once and run anywhere‘ making it applicable for all the hardware platforms. It was a technology that gives the flexibility to the programmer to create the GUI with very small set of lines of codes when comparing to earlier technologies that took hundred lines of code. It provide plugins support for Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator for creating the necessary designs and for developers this technology is freely available for download as a plugin for NetBeans. For beginners they have provided a nice set of tutorials and other resources covering its basics and for getting our hands dirty. Next he extended his discussion toward Java’s enterprise technologies and the important aspects (about the importance of the Functional requirements as well as the Non-functional requirements) that we should considered when building enterprise level world applications. He explained about these aspects and how it can be handled using J2EE platform.

The afternoon session was dedicated give us a hands on experience about the JavaFX technology. During this session I learned how to make use of JavaFX to build a small image sideshow incorporating rich features like tweening, scaling, rotating, adding reflections, etc… into it and later we looked at how to incorporate a media player into a Java application having features that we are currently experiencing with web based Flash video players. At the end of the session Feisal asked questions based on the stuff he spoke to us during the morning session and gave gifts for those who gave correct answers and I was fortunate to win a laptop bag and a T-shirt having the Sun logo embedded.  🙂

I would like to give my special thanks to Mr. Feisal Ahmad of Sun Microsystems for his wonderful effort and spending his entire day with us sharing his knowledge and experiences, also I would like to thank my friend Ransara for coordinating this event in collaboration with NetAssists International.

Visit to Loadstar at Midigama

Loadstar is a manufacturing organization carrying out its operations based on several plants scattered around Western and Southern parts of Sri Lanka. It was started in 1984 as a joint venture of Jinasena Group of Companies of Sri Lanka and Solideal International of Belgium. Its production is mainly based on rubber, one of the three main export crops of Sri Lanka. It was started as a BOI project and now acts as one of the world’s leading Tyre manufacture in Industrial Tyres.

As an individual entity it contributes to 3% percent of country’s total foreign income and it purchases over 70% of the total rubber production in Sri Lanka. Currently all of its manufacturing requirements are fulfilled by its own chain of companies. It has around 8200 employee base contributing at various stages of its manufacturing effort and they recognized each and every employee as a member of the company. Its main production is aligned under four main product lines:

  • Air Tyres
  • Solid Tyres
  • Rubber Tracks
  • Rims & Wheels

Their productions are exported to over 90 countries, distributed among Europe, North & South America and Africa using more than 150 sales centers. The manufacturing is purely handled in Sri Lanka under the authority of Jinasena Group of Companies and the sales are handled by the Solideal International through their sales centers in USA, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, UK, Sweden, Poland, Australia, etc… Their target customer segment is the original equipment manufacturers(OEM’s) in the world(26 altogether), such as Toyota, Nissan, FIAT, TCM, Mitsubushi, Lugli, Atlet, Komatsu, JCB, Simba to name a few.

They maintain nine rubber collecting centers scattered around the country and they have the South Asia’a biggest rubber mixing plant at Kotugoda. It carries out the initial preparation for the collected rubber sheets before releasing them to the plants (at Midigama, Ekala, etc..) to carry out the actual manufacturing of the Tyres. They have a plant called Kiyotho at Ekala equipped with fully automated robotic technology to carry out the manufacturing of the Rims and the Wheels.

At Midigam, Loadstar has one of its main Tyre manufacturing plant that operates 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. According to them the plant stops its normal operations only during Sinhala & Tamil New Year and this April it was for only seven days. The entire facility is equipped with the modern equipments and technologies and most of the mechanical machinery has been designed and built by the engineers in the company to efficiently utilize the energy, materials, workforce and the space. Every production line is properly managed and well looked after. To maintain the quality aspects they have recently introduced the S5 methodology at the facility. Through that they have managed to greatly reduce the cost and increased the productivity by identifying the inefficient processes and excess utilization of human labor. They have achieved several ISO standards, to name them:- ISO:9001:2000 & ISO:14001:2004. All the Loadstar members always try to cultivate and maintains five values among them.

  • Make the customer delight
  • Respect each other
  • Honesty
  • Dedication, collective responsibility and ownership
  • Respect the values and virtues of culture and environment

We were warmly welcomed by the management at the Midigama plant and given an introduction and insight of the company by the officials at the Human Resource department. Later we were introduced to the engineers at the plant, the brains behind its operations and machinery. Where ever you look you only see is huge machinery carrying out specific task of the tyre manufacturing process. There were Tyres that are so huge even I felt that I’m too short(5′ 10″) compared to them. There were some Tyres that used several dozens of iron bar for a single Tyre other than the use of strips of rubber coated copper wires. For a single Tyre they used several layers of rubber compounds of varying proportions, for me it was a totally new experience because previously I have only heard about it form others but this gave me a chance to experienced it by my own eyes, on how really each activity is taking place at the each stage of the process. They were always experimenting on new ways and methodologies to improve the quality and increase the efficiency of the Tyres, I’m telling this because I even got a chance to see how they experiment on new things at the plant.

In front of Loadstar

In front of Loadstar

At the Training Center

At the Training Center

They joined us with lunch

They joined us with lunch

Time for lunch

Time for lunch

Unfortunately we were not allowed to take any sort of cameras into the plant. So I did not have the chance to capture some of its memorable moments into pictures, but I’m grateful to the management and everybody at Loadstar for giving us this wonderful opportunity despite their busy schedules. Especially I would like to give my special thank to Dr. J. C. Balasuriya for arranging this field visit to Midigama Loadstar manufacturing plant as a part of our Robotics lectures at the Faculty.

Although it was a field trip, we had an enjoyable time throughout the two days. The quest to Midigama started on Wednesday afternoon, stopped at Galle to have some snacks. Then we decided to visit Rumassala (since it was only few kilometers away),  to one of the richest bio-diversed coral sanctuary in the world, but unfortunately it has lost most of its richness due to the Asian Tsunami devastation in 2004. We had an adventurous walk along the beach towards the Temple thanks to Deneth’s love of exploring the natural beauty. Next we head to our resting place. There we met one of our lab assistance, Lalith who was there at the Faculty last year before joining the non-academic staff of University of Ruhuna recently. He took us to a marvelous nearby beach for us to have swim in the sea; it was around 7 o’clock in the night. Although we could hardly see each other I stayed in the sea playing with each other and there was a small island that was there within our reach towards the sea about 100 meters. After the nice sea bath everybody headed to explore the island in the dark. It was picturesque to watch the sea form the top where the sun is setting down and the sea waves splashing against the rock beds scattering water all over. It was next the day we visited Loadstar at Midigama and spend the entire day at the manufacturing plant. While returning back our lecturer invited us to his place for a tea. We reached the lecturer’s place by 7 0’clock and it was a fabulous thing at that moment because everybody is so tired and hungry. We stop at Nadeesha’s place at Ambalangoda for dinner around 10 0’clock and reached our destination by mid-night.







Sahana @ Unlocking Young Minds ~ 2009

Last Thursday was a very busy day for me specially because it was the starting day of our exhibition. I was responsible for designing the brochure and getting the content finalized and few other designs which needed to handed over to Sanjaya to get them printed on previous day (Wednesday).

The FOSS lovers of my batch got together and decided to do something valuable of what we know during the exhibition by having a section called “Open Source Software” to educate the public about the importance and the benefits they can gain for their daily life. Glimpse into what Sri Lankans have given to the world community. We planned to have the section as follows:

  • Free Operating Systems and their usage
  • FOSS tool for our daily work
  • Sahana Project

In the Free OS section we demonstrated Minix, Free BSD, Sun Solaris, Fedora and Ubuntu by Kalana and Yoshan. In most cases majority of them were surprised about the functionality and the capabilities inherited in them because they had only experienced and exposed to the Windows XP. In the next section people got the chance to get to know and experienced the FOSS alternatives for Office Productivity(OpenOffice Suite ), Image and Video Manipulation(GIMP, Inkscape, Blender, etc..), Internet (Mozilla Firefox, Thunderbird, Pidgin, etc..), Entertainment(VLC, Amarock, Mplayer, etc..), Education, Emulation Engines(Wine), etc.. to name a few, it was conducted by Uthpala.

I took myself the opportunity of explaining and demonstrating the Sahana, which came as a result of Asian Tsunami devastation that took quarter a million of human life away. With the help of the documents received from Chamindra I prepared a poster highlighting its special milestones and its functionality.

Sahana Poster :1

Sahana Poster : Part 1

Sahana Poster :2

Sahana Poster : Part 2

To make the session more interesting I took the OLPC running Sahana on it, and Sahana running from an USB to show them and make them feel how the system can be used in real life situations. I’m happy to say that out of the people I spoke to most showed their interest towards joining the community, especially by students. I’m happy to say that I got an invitation from a school at Rathnapura to do a demonstration of the Sahana project at their exhibition which will be held on 22nd of June, I’m looking forward to it.

During the three days I got the chance to get to know various people and majority of them haven’t even knew that such a project exist and it had done so much of service to the world. So I’m very happy that I got a chance to convey the importance and the services it had given to the world community. I got the chance to talk with Mr. Wasantha Deshapriya the Director, Re-engineering Government Programme Information & Communication Technology Agency(ICTA). He appreciate the effort rendered by the Sahana community to make it a globally acclaimed project.

I had to run to Motorola (Pvt) Ltd Sri Lanka. to collect some of their equipments(various kinds of Bar-code Scanners, Wearable Computers and several other hand-held devices – happy to say that most of them are designed and developed here at Motorola Sir Lanka) during Wednesday. I must especially thank Mr. Ruwan Jayanetthi(who teaches us Embedded Systems) and Mr. Damith Jayawickrama at Motorola (Pvt) Ltd for the support given to me despite their busy schedule.

Memorable moments







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