Monday, December 31, 2012

Yarl IT Hub ... The first year review

Yarl IT Hub banner with the YIT
logo created by
Kajan  placed in the middle
Its been an year since Yarl IT Hub commenced work. During the last month of 2010 we had the logo competition within the community and right at the stroke of the dawn of 2012 we came in to existence with a logo created and selected by the members of the community.

With a logo, a boot strapped web site and a facebook page with about 5 members we set on a ambitious journey to "Make Jaffna the next Silicon Valley". We planned out a Strategy with a three point action plan for the year. To be honest it was all at conceptual level and non of us really knew which would be well received and which ones would flop. Its just the passion towards the cause which led us to believe that these were the stuff we could practically do within the year.

Our three point action plan included the following,

1. Community Meet Ups
2. ySchool - Open source school management system project
3. IT competition modeled based on the inspiration from reality shows

Inaugural community meet up ( 3rd of March 2012 )
With the above action plan  on paper we set out on implementing them. As the first step to get a gauge of the kind of reception the initiative would get and to solicit support for implementation within the IT community in Jaffna we had our inaugural community meet up at IIS City Campus in Jaffna. This gave us a shot in the arm. The support and blessing we received from Staff and Students from University of Jaffna, IIS City Campus, other  educational institutions was overwhelming. Most importantly we had a session where we got the participants to solve some of the trickiest analytic questions and the unbelievable speed with which all of those questions were solved made us convinced that we are trying to create the next Silicon Valley at the right place. 

Sarves moderating the cloud computing panel discussion at inaugural meet up

ySchool Project 
With the success of the inaugural meet up we started off on ySchool project.  The intent was to involve IT students from Jaffna and the industry and develop an Open Source School Management System. We identified a technical competency gap in implementing the project within the student community with respect to the  chosen technology stack for the project. To overcome this we set off on having a four week online java crash course  for the students. We had again the support of the YIT experts to conduct exceptional quality training to the students. It was attended by around 20 Students all together connecting from their own homes and of course the Jaffna Uni students opted to gather with a lecture room and hooked on the projector and was learning as a team. A few weeks after when I met some of the students it was heartening to see them making a kind request for us to have more similar sessions in future. The thirst to learn was still fresh!

Jaffna University Students following the crash course

Then on the 29th of July we had a ySchool code jam session. Probably the first of its kind in Jaffna. Where the student programmers on the project guided by Jason had a full day session! Putting in to use the stuff they learnt from Ratha, Ajeethan, Vimal, Jason, Gayathiry and JK during the online crash course. 

2nd Community Meet Up
While the ySchool initiative was happening parallel we had the 2nd community meet up at the University of Jaffna. Its fondly remembered by a lot of people for 2 reasons, 

1. The inspirational talk by Harsha - CTO of hSenid Mobile

2. Two student teams presenting their business concepts. 
The two concepts which were almost discussed as ''toy concepts during the meet up are today implemented as mobile applications by those students teams and ready to go live on the biggest mobile operator here! 

Yarl Geek Challenge

Sponsored by the three of the biggest local IT giants hSenid, Virtusa and WSO2 the Yarl Geek Challenge season one kicked off in style with 14 teams in participation from Jaffna, Vavuniya, Moratuwa, Trinco, etc. Each team was assigned a mentor from the industry and they literally lived through  their concepts during the four days. Teams were put through rigorous process of evaluations by the judging panel at a public trial! The teams which escaped from the brink of evaluation on the first round made a dramatic turn around to end up as the winners and runners up. Team Arima from Moratuwa Universiy clinched the crown , Team Cybers won the second place and Zeroes from Jaffna University won the third place. While the team Crazy Coders from IIS city campus won the opportunity round. 

The judging panel listening attentively to the student presentation.
If the year's activities were the cake undoubtedly Yarl Geek Challenge was the cherry on top! 2013 is going to be a crucial year in Yarl IT Hub's quest to make Jaffna the Silicon Valley as we are planing out some exciting stuff for the new year! 

Wishing everyone a very happy new year! May it be the year in which all your dreams comes true!

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