International Biology Olympiad competition is being held in Changwon, South Korea these days. 56 countries, with four contestants from each country, are participating in this internationally acclaimed event and three A/L Bio Science students of Colombo D.S. Senanayake College are also included in the Sri Lankan team. They are R.D.B. Gayan Madhushanka, H.R. Ishan Dharshana Wijewardena and Dulshan Chathuranga Jayasinghe, who are also having been selected to Medical Faculty of University of Colombo this year. In the picture: Gayan, Ishan and Dulshan (standing). Bio Science teacher Chamila Ukwatte, Principal Dr. Ashoka Senani Hewage, Section Head Bernard Silva and Bio Science teacher Densil Edirisinghe (seated).
With tenacity, talent, and top-notch flying, the University of North Dakota Flying Team won the 2010 SAFECON national collegiate aviation competition. It was UND's 16th SAFECON championship in 25 years, among the best long-term performance records in SAFECON's 90 year history.
"This win clearly demonstrates UND's dominance in the field of academic aviation at every level," said UND President Robert O. Kelley. "We're very proud of these students and their ability to demonstrate their aviation skills in SAFECON's rigorous national competition"
The UND Flying Team-nabbed the championship spot with 474 total points, 99 points ahead of the No. 2 team Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. It was one of the competition's widest-ever winning margins and the second year in a row that UND won the competition with a record score. UND's victory means being the best of the best--only the country's top 30 or so college flying teams are invited to participate in SAFECON.
UND also scored No. 1 in the Flight Events Champions competition with 282 points, 40 points ahead of the U.S. Air Force Academy. UND won the No. 1 spot in the Ground Events Champions event, with 192 points, 16 points ahead of No. 2 place Embry-Riddle.
It's UND's 16th victory in the 25 years that the school has sent teams to SAFECON, a major feat in a tough competitive environment that includes the country's very best college fliers. SAFECON is the continent's largest collegiate flying competition and is organized by the National Intercollegiate Flying Association (NIFA).
First Officer Yasith De Silva
"It was a brilliant performance, a real testatment to the education and training we offer our students at the UND John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences," said Bruce Smith, Dean of the Odegard School and himself an aviator and former UND football player. "This competition, which is like the NCAA championship in collegiate sports, benchmarks the overall excellence of our college's academic programme and light operations"
"The UND Flying team showcases the very high level of flying skills that we endeavour to develop," said Smith, who drove down to Terre Haute to participate in the SAFECON awards banquet last Saturday.
"Winning the national championship is an uneqquivocal testament to the character of UND's overall aviation programme," said Jim Higgins, associate professor and Flying Team coach.
"This was a complete team effort-by team I mean the entire organization firing on all cylinders. This was a very hard-working group with a strong sense of UND pride," said Higgins, who was named Coach of the Year by NIFA at this year's SAFECON. Fifteen of the UND Flying Team's 30 current members competed this year. The team co-captains were Kyle Schurb and Greg Weseman.
The SAFECON competition tests a broad variety of aviation skills, both on the ground and in the air. Flight events include power-off and short-field landings, a very demanding test of a pilot's skills.
Navigation is another key flight event, which tests a pilot's ability to safely navigate 100-mile course down to the second. Ground events include tests that measure a pilot's knowledge of regulations, weather, and their ability to do aviation math without electronic aids.
Overall, SAFECON is about testing the total package of skills that a pilot needs to safely, accurately, and on-time fly an aircraft from point A to point B. Many of the collegiate aviators in this competition will become the world's future professional aviators. UND-since it began competing in SAFECON 25 years ago-has always been placed in the Top 10, most often in the top two spots. About 70 schools are members of NIFA, but only 30 or so annually qualify for competition, which is based on regional wins.
UND also garnered leading honours in other SAFECON competition events:
* UND student William Gardner won the No. 2 spot in the National Top Pilot Award category; his teammate Jamie Marshall also garnered a top 10 spot.
* Gardner was No. 2 Top Scoring Male Contestant; UND competitors Kyle Schurb, Jamie Marshall, Erik Johnson, David Edmonds, and Greg Weseman were also placed in the top 20 in this category.
Kent Lovelace Chair/Professor Department of Aviation John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences (centre) with Priyanthi (right) and Dissa (left) during one of their meetings last summer at Grand Forks
* The Judges Trophy No. 1 win went to UND, with 3436 points overall, 256 points of No. 2 scoring Embry-Riddle.
* The No. 2 competition's Craig Morrison Award-given for pre-flight scanning and computer accuracy skills-went to UND's Greg Weseman; UND's Scott Meyer and David Edmonds also earned Top 10 spots.
The awards ceremony took place on Saturday, May 22 at Indiana State University, Terre Haute.
Priyanthi Dissanayake (www.scholarshipsforusa.com) exclusive representative in Sri Lanka for University of North Dakota recently brought together UND's best known Sri Lankan (alumnus) Aviator Yasith De Silva (2006), Malith Silva (class of 2013) whom she placed last fall and Pramuka Perera who plans commencing this fall. It was an evening of learning for the aspiring aviators listening to Yasith of whom the UND's academic advisors still hold deep affection and respect. In UND Aerospace Priyanthi has found the perfect answer of the highest quality of education at the most affordable cost.
At UND students not only earn flying licences but earn Bachelor degrees making them fit into many areas of aviation and globally employable. Priyanthi dreams of a day she could facilitate a collaboration programme where this priceless education can be delivered in Sri Lanka (at a fraction of the cost) so that hundreds more of our youth could become expert aviators flying many global airlines. Malith and Pramuka are both from Gateway International Colombo.
Kent Lovelace Chair/Professor Department of Aviation John D.Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences says:
Yasith is an example of what a well prepared student can accomplish in college but more importantly what can be done after college and entering the aviation job market. Yasith was not only a great student in the classroom and in the airplane but he involved himself in many of the activities that can be found on a traditional liberal arts based institution like the University of North Dakota, such as intramural athletics, theatre and other performances as well as over 250 different student organizations.
He truly maximized his learning in both his professional interests as well as those aspects that helped him to grow personally which is how students should approach their education.
Our philosophy with all of our aviation degree programmes is to take a strong liberal arts core and surround that with a comprehensive, in-depth and high technology aviation experience. This allows for the best possible preparation for the student and their future life in their chosen profession.
Why Aviation at UND?
First Officer Yasith De Silva alumnus of UND Aerospace flying Airbus 340 for Srilankan Airlines:
"Flying was always my persistent dream and as I was growing older, thought of obtaining a degree which could help me stand out from the rest. So I start my search. As any college bound student, I did my homework in preparing for undergraduate studies at a University. I wanted to find the best college programme with a cost that I and my family can afford.
As the field of Aviation does not have a place for subpar standards, it was paramount that I went to the best possible institution at any cost. Few lingering questions too…would it be acceptable to all major airlines? Does it have enough training aircraft of different types? Is the technology cutting edge? Would I be able to afford the fees?
This is when I came across, the University of North Dakota, John D. Ordegard School of Aerospace, one of the top aviation programmes in the world. It is not just an aviation school. It's one of the most respected public liberal arts schools in US Midwest. Which means availability of many other courses in management, marketing, science, arts - you name it. You finally walk away armed with not only an Aviation degree but many other courses making you an automatic choice for any employer.
I am so thankful for my alma mater for making me who I am today and the person I can be tomorrow. Those were happy days!!!
Priyanthi Dissanayake (www.scholarshipsforusa.com) exclusive representative in Sri Lanka for University of North Dakota recently brought together UND's best known Sri Lankan Aviator Yasith de Silva (2006), Malith Silva (third from right) (class of 2013 - whom she placed last fall) and Pramuka Perera (second from right) who plans commencing this fall. It was an evening of learning for the aspiring aviators listening to Yasith of whom the UND's academic advisors still hold deep affection and respect. In UND Aerospace Priyanthi has found the perfect answer of the highest quality of education at the most affordable cost. At UND students not only earn flying licences but earn Bachelor degrees making them fit into many areas of aviation and become globally employable. Priyanthi dreams of a day she could facilitate a collaboration programme where this priceless education can be delivered in Sri Lanka (at a fraction of the cost) so that hundreds more of our youth could become expert aviators flying many global airlines. Malith and Pramuka are both from Gateway International Colombo.