ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday April 27, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 48
Financial Times  

Youth challenged to tackle global issues with ICT

Although often referred to as the 'future of the world', youth are not always involved in the development process that might determine their very future. Real problems like climate change and pollutions are not explained comprehensively enough to them.

The Microsoft Imagine Cup, an annual event organised by Microsoft Sri Lanka invites students to use their imagination as well as their technological skills to adapt Information Communication Technology (ICT) to issues that plague either their region or the world at large. This year's cup will be held in France.

Microsoft Sri Lanka recently held the second round of the competition, where six finalist teams battled it out on the only non web-based aspect of the competition, which is software design. The other areas such as designing a short film are all on-line competitions.
"One of the most looked forward to events in tertiary education" said Sriyan D.S.Wijeratna, Country Head of Microsoft Sri Lanka describing the competition. He went on to say that the winners of the competition were not only recognised by Microsoft but by the industry as a whole, judging by the successful careers former winners now enjoy.

Under the theme of "Imagine a world where technology enables a sustainable environment", the teams had to identify a particular problem they felt was obstructing sustainability then produce a comprehensive technological solution to it, while not straying from the guidelines of the competition which included the use of Microsoft programmes like Image runner, Windows live and ASP.Net among others.

Some teams had picked out problems that plague local farmers. Like team E-c with their portal E-cultivator. The team consisting of students from the University of Colombo (Computer Studies), E-cultivators is an online space where people can decide on how they want their vegetables grown and with what amount of fertilizer. This is to deal with the enormous amounts of insecticides and pesticides that are poured in to cultivations now.

Yet another team, Gagana, tackled the problem of deforestation caused by the increased use of paper for communication purposes, citing statistics that four billion trees are cut down annually for this purpose, the equivalent of 30 million acres. Their programme, EDUM (Electronic Document Management system) is an advanced document management system that employs e-documents instead of paper bills, and enables customer of large firms to view their bills on their mobile phone via Short Message Service (SMS).

The winning team Sasrutha was a group of students from the Moratuwa University with the project Harith Prayathna, which centred on the problem of disposal of solid waste and how to deal with it in an environmentally friendly manner. The second and third places went to teams Gagana and Will Power. The winners will be travelling to France to take part in the international competition. (TR)


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