Financial Times

Software industry invests in new talent

The Young Computer Scientists (YCS) awards 2008 held recently brought together some of the brightest young minds in ICT in Sri Lanka.

Among the winning entries this year were: a simple wireless device that allows the user to control a computer and its applications, a word processing and Web page editor software programme and an information system on countries, the organisers said in a press release.

The awards aim to expose the computing talents of school children at early stages and encourage them to develop their talents and earn recognition for their innovations.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Nayane Gunawardena, President of the Sri Lanka Association for the Software Industry (SLASI) which organized the event said most YCS competitors had understood that it is not just about building systems, but the real challenge is building ICT systems that meet the expectations of the stakeholder.

The awards which are organized annually by SLASI in association with the University of Colombo are endorsed by the Ministry of Education and the Information Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka.

Dr. Ruvan Weerasinghe, Director of the University of Colombo School of Computing who was the chief guest at the awards pointed out that Sri Lanka has achieved recognition not just as users but as creators of technology. He praised the standard of the competition saying some of the entries were of international standard. Ganidu Nanayakkara, a 3-times YCS gold medalist, who won the senior category (17-19 yrs) this year, says the awards motivate young people to get involved in ICT by giving them a platform to be recognized. Nanayakkara, an A’Level student at Ananda College, Colombo won gold for a wireless device that allows a user to control a computer with a basic number of buttons and the software to run it. Speaking of his entry, he says it can be customized to suit the user and has potential for disabled users with limited dexterity. Mr Nanayakkara will be flying to Indonesia later this week to take part in the Asia Pacific ICTA awards where he will compete with other secondary students from the region. All costs relating to his participation in the international competition will be borne by SLASI. Topping this year’s junior category (12-16 yrs) were two entries, Chanuka Yasawardena of Gateway Kids, Nugegoda for a word processing application and Deshan Perera and Subashana Kossinna of Lyceum International School, Nugegoda for a business information organizing system.

This year’s entries included those from Valachchenai, Samanthurai (which won an award), Welimada and Ukuwela. Organisers say despite obvious handicaps entries from rural areas were commendable. They say it is vital that existing programs to take technology to rural Sri Lanka see fruition in order to identify potential IT talent in these far flung corners of the country.

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