Walking through the halls of S. Thomas’ College reminded us of our school days. On the 17th of October 2017, we found ourselves reminiscing about the days of old. Why were we here? For Informatique ’17. In case you were wondering, Informatique is the annual ICT Day of S. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia.
How gaming built a a company
Bhanuka Harischandra, CEO of SurgeViral was the first speaker for Informatique ’17. He opened up by saying that “entrepreneurship is an interesting thing”. He then asked the audience about how many of them wanted to start a company. A few hands rose.
He then shared his journey from the age of 15. He played his fair share of video games, waking up each day at 4 AM to play video games with his friends. At 6.30 AM, his mother would tell him that he was going to be late for school, and he usually was.
Bhanuka and his friends played a lot of games and recorded them and posted them on YouTube. Soon, they had over 1 million people watching their videos. He added that they were not particularly good at the games they were playing and that they were just having fun.
Interestingly enough, they found that there was some opportunity there. So Bhanuka and his friends decided to set up a company. And a bunch of advertisers were willing to sponsor them because other people were watching them play video games.
He took the road less travelled
Despite his parents and brother being doctors and Bhanuka being raised to be a doctor, he didn’t want to be a doctor. Rather, he wanted to play video games. The company he setup grew to become a media company. There, they understood how YouTube and social media work.
Any problem they had was solved with a bit of searching on Google. Bhanuka emphasized that rather than educational qualifications, it was all about your appetite to learn.
“Most parents wouldn’t be supportive if you say you want to start a company,” says Bhanuka. He shared that the least risky approach to building a company is to create a service. On the other hand, it’s a challenge to build and sell a product without validation.
Bhanuka went on to share at Informatique ’17 that an approach they carried out was asking people to pay for a product before it was built. They found 600 people who would pay them for an analytics tool that doesn’t exist. There are different ways to approach a problem to start anything.
So he encouraged the participants to not do it just for the sake for a medal or a certificate. Why? Because in the real world, they have no value compared to actually building something. “Just go out there and build it. If you have to cut some classes it’s fine”. With that, Bhanuka’s session came to an end.
It was then time for the Product Demos by the Finalists
Following Bhanuka’s presentation, there were a number of schools presenting products that they had developed for Informatique ’17. These schools were the finalists of the competition that had been taking place from the morning and now they were here to pitch their products.
Caveman by Babul Hassen College Central
They built a game called Caveman which is based on the story of a caveman searching for his children. Aimed at Grade 08 students, the goal of the game is to help students learn math and science and as such, questions are either based on math or science.
The game comprises of 10 levels. Advancing to the next level is done by answering questions. There are two types of users: Players (students) and the Admin (a single account) that is used by a teacher. The admin account is used to set the questions for each level.
DevLanka by Zahira College, Kalmunai
DevLanka is a project to help innovate the process of forwarding complaints to the public authorities about malfunctions or unhealthy appearances of public spaces, by means of an app. Available for Android devices, the aim here is to make local bodies efficient and reduce barriers to people who want to get involved, and also to make people’s problems directly heard.
They also want to raise public awareness about public property and utilities and make them operate 24/7. They have also built an Android app called DevLanka accessible by both the public and government bodies (Admins). The general public will submit complaints and an admin from the government body can listen to these complaints.
A School Management System by Mahinda College
The system comprises of a number of elements. There is a school administrator who allows teachers to take attendance. An e-report gives you your grades. It also utilizes a smart card system to check if students are present in the class.
Students touch their smart card on an RF Card Reader to mark their attendance. They have an administration for both academic and non-academic staff.
Keet Sugathadasa taught us about competition
The second speaker of Informatique ’17 had some very important points as well. “Competition in the ICT industry is important”, opens Keet Sugathadasa. He went on to explain that we should fix Sri Lanka’s problems with efficient solutions. Anyone can build a mobile game he said. But a game that can be used by teachers to impart knowledge to the student, now that’s innovation.
He emphasized at Informatique ’17 that seeing real-world problems and solving them is how innovation is born. Keet shared that at his first competition he failed. But he used that experience to win 13 other competitions both locally and at an international level.
Every challenge should be taken as an opportunity and every risk as a target, Keet added. He also shared that the product the students showed may require them to start from scratch. That, he says, is how life works. He went on to talk about how joining competitions allow one to build a network.
This network is what has helped him seek out new employment opportunities before he left university. He then went on to say that by the time he started this speech, Java might be a good language but by the time it ends, Java may be obsolete. In conclusion, he encouraged students to spend their time learning about technology and innovation, rather than engaging in activities that would be a waste of time.
The final countdown begins
With Keith’s session ending, it was time for the final rounds of the quizzes of Informatique ’17 to begin. Here again, schools had been competing from the morning and this quiz would be with the final three schools. They were
- Musaeus College
- Royal Institute
- Sujatha Vidyalaya
As a question is asked, the first team to raise their hand would receive the chance to answer the question. They would get 20 seconds to provide an answer. Each correct answer would award the team with 10 points. An incorrect or incomplete answer or a failure to answer within the allocated time would result in the loss of 5 points. In the event of a tie, a tie-breaker question would be asked with each team being given 30 seconds to answer.
And the winners of Informatique ’17 were:
At the end of the quiz, it was time to announce the winners of the competitions held at Informatique ’17 and give away the awards at the awards ceremony. Given below are the winners:
- 3rd place: Zahira College
- 2nd place: Babul Hassen College
- 1st place: Mahinda College
- 3rd place: Sujatha Vidyalaya
- 2nd place: St. John’s College Jaffna
- 1st place: Holy Cross College Gampaha
- 3rd place: Sujatha Vidyalaya
- 2nd place: Musaeus College Colombo
- 1st place: Royal Institute
These awards were given to students who had taken part in the graphic design and web design competitions that were organized before and during Informatique ’17.
- 3rd place: Mahinda College, Galle
- 2nd place: Mahinda College, Galle
- 1st place: Holy Cross College, Gampaha
- 3rd place: Museaus College
- 2nd place: Mahinda College, Galle
- 1st place: St. John’s College, Jaffna
With that, Informatique ’17 officially came to a close.