Something quite interesting was happening at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura. Men in suits and well dressed ladies coupled with teams wearing black tees, were seen rushing around doing the last minute preps ensuring that things are on schedule. The Location – The Biology Auditorium – Faculty of Applied Sciences The event – Aurora 2K15, The Inaugural Conference on Computer Science organized by the University of Sri Jayewardenepura’s Society of Computer Science.
“The computer is incredibly fast, accurate, and stupid. Man is incredibly slow, inaccurate, and brilliant” – Leo Cherne.
The event started off like any other, with the lighting of the oil lamp. This was followed by the the welcome speech by Mr. Udaka Ayas, President – SCS USJP, Aurora 2k15 officially kicked off.
Aurora is an idea which came into being with the sole purpose of reaching the landmark of a country with a 90% literacy rate in IT by 2016. It is a team effort by the Society of Computer Science, each member working hand in hand; mentioned Mr. Dulan Dias, Chief Organizer in the event introduction.
The event consisted of 2 Phases; the Conference and the Quiz. The Conference revolved around three hot trending topics; namely Augmented Reality, Internet of Things and Deep Learning, whereas the Quiz (which was happening in parallel to the Conference_ had three stages: Warm Up Quiz, Practical Challenge and the Finale On-Stage Quiz.
The warm Up Quiz was a multiple choice question elimination round where teams of 4 students, one team per each school could participate in.
The 4 best teams were brought into the next level; the Practical Challenge where they had to find solutions to several problems. At the end they were asked to design and develop a website which will promote and market their solution.
This is a pretty uncommon approach you come across in a competition of this kind. Dulan shared with us that this is done to encourage the marketing skills of the students since an idea would be rather useless if it’s not properly marketed. At the end of the challenge, these 4 teams were judged in front of a panel of Industry Experts.
Moving on with the conference it was Dr. Ananda Edirisuriya, Head – Department of Computer Science at the University of Sri Jayawardenepura who shared his personal experiences from the 80’s along with how he sees the past and present of ICT in Sri Lanka.
The Chief Guest, Mr. Jayantha De Silva, Chairman – SLASSCOM / President & CEO – IFS Sri Lanka was invited on stage. During his speech he stated the importance of the IT Industry, how we could incorporate a higher value addition in Software Products.
“It’s Conceptual Design that matters, people needs that… Sri Lankans are good at this, it’s in their DNA.”
It was both a visionary and inspiring talk. No doubt it made the audience, the students specifically to stop and think for a while.
First up in the agenda, was the lecture on Augmented Reality by Mr. Renien Joseph of Zone24x7. From bare basics to practical usage of AR, the concepts behind it, how it is done and even a Live Demo too! Joseph covered every aspect of AR.
Lesson Learned: If you need 100% engagement from the audience where all of them get guts to stand up and come in front of stage, show them a Google Glass… for your thinking; what would be the outcome if it was a Hololens instead?
He demonstrated a project done for a client which allows the users to plan their interior in a virtual environment. He concluded the presentation, encouraging the students to explore more on AR concepts utilizing the vast amount of open source technologies.
Back to the Future… IoT
“Think about your house; the moment you step in, your AC turn on. The same song you were playing in the car continues at home too…”
Yes you guessed it right. Next was the session on Internet of Things by Mr. Thejaka Usgoda Arachchi from Intel Software. The presentation was bulked up with knowledge, examples and inspiration.
He also didn’t forget to mention about the Colombo IoT Meetup Group and invited the students to join it to broaden their knowledge. Talking about Colombo IoT, he shared their experience with a Community IoT project for Kumana National Park. Like the previous lecture this too had a demo. This was a prototype Smart Room Allocation system based on NFC running on a Raspberry Pi.
“World needs Innovation. Think outside the box. It’s all about connecting the dots.”
Ultron is real
Up on stage after the lunch break was Dr. (Mrs) Subha Fernando the HOD, Computational Mathematics, Faculty of Information Technology, University of Moratuwa. She talked on Deep Learning. Kids seemed to love her session. I doubt whether anyone felt sleepy (which is common after lunch) as she kept them all engaged throughout.
She stated that learning is all about enhancing the performance, efficiency and accuracy and Artificial intelligence is about mimicking the nature or building models. It was more of a casual discussion than an ordinary lecture with lots of Question and Answers along with ice breaking styled activities.
The On-Stage Quiz
Two teams from Nalanda College, Colombo and De Mazenod College, Kandana made their way to stage. The quiz was a mix of 10 MCQ questions to each team and 10 open ended for either team to answer. Mind you there are minus marks, both the teams were extreme cautious before they spit out even a single word. The questions ranged from General IT, Trending topics, Computer networking and Web technologies. So who won? Lub dub, lub dub, lub dub…
It wasn’t a conventional guest of honor talk. Next up was Sachira Fernando, the CEO of Erbenlabs revealing the magical formula for a happier and successful Life which he said to have learnt the hard way.
“Do what you love to do. Try doing something different. Do that one thing that people would talk for years.”
An entrepreneur of our time, his thoughts were driving and motivational. He further added; “What you want to become must be decided by you. Not your Parents say, not your peers nor the society. Seek your passion”
And the Winners are
Finally, the much awaited results of the Competition was out.
Aurora Champions : Nalanda College, Colombo.
Runners-up : De Mazenod College, Kandana.
2nd Runners-up : Devi Balika Vidyalaya, Colombo.
3rd Runners-up : Isipathana College, Colombo.
All teams that took part were awarded Certificates for Participation. With that Aurora 2k15 drew to a close.
Aurora 2k15 being the first of its kind and receiving an audience that comprised of around 15 well known schools, was unquestionably a success. It was indeed a Day well spent listening to some inspiring and motivating talks. Sadly, as with all things in life, everything comes to and end. It was a fun day, but it was now time to head home. This was Chandula Bandara peporting back to ReadMe HQ. Over and Out.