As part of the Asia Pacific Week of Code, 21-27 April 2014, we are highlighting YouthSpark stars in Asia Pacific who have learned to code and have found success in school, competitions and career by understanding this language. We hope their stories will inspire you. What are you waiting for? Learn to speak Code now. #WeSpeakCode

imageName: Kazi Mamun Ur Rashid
Country: Bangladesh
Occupation: Software Engineer, Software Lab

Bio
Since he was young, Kazi Mamun Ur Rashid has been fascinated by computers and technology. Spurred on by his passion, he pursued a degree in Computer Science and Software Engineering at the American International University-Bangladesh (AIUB) where he was the Campus Lead for Microsoft Student Partners AIUB, as well as the Events and Marketing Lead for Microsoft Student Partners Bangladesh. Kazi is also interested in pursuing economic empowerment for the underprivileged.  In 2012, his social innovation idea won funding support from Microsoft Seed Funding for Innovation Challenge.

Can you tell us how you got started in coding?
I started to learn coding when I was around 20 years old. C++ was the first language I learned before venturing into other coding languages such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP and C#. I learned most of these by myself through educational videos and tutorial blogs. As a Microsoft Student Partner, I had the opportunity to attend different tech workshops, which has helped me immensely in my progress as a programmer.

What are some coding projects that you have done?
For one of my university projects, I developed a shooting game using XNA, where players gain points by destroying the enemy plane. Right now, I’m using HTML 5 to create a Basic Painting Tool application for Windows Phone 8. It functions like Microsoft Paint, allowing users to draw with pencil, pen and brush tools. There will also be a shape library for users to utilise basic geometric shapes such as rectangles, triangles, stars and ellipses.

The YouthSpark WeSpeakCode campaign aims to encourage young people to learn code. If you were to speak to the younger generation, what kind of advice would you give them? Is there a specific programme you would recommend for them?
For the younger students (5-12 years old), I would recommend to get them involved in basic concept development rather than jump straight into coding. The Microsoft Kodu Platform is the ideal software for them to learn about basic development.

If the audience is older—say, 12 years and above—I would strongly encourage them to build a broad foundation in basic coding before going on to platform-specific solutions. Most importantly, they have to learn the fundamental concepts. When they are looking to expand their knowledge of coding languages, they can simply follow the syntax of the particular language.

In 2012, you won the Microsoft Innovate4Good competition with your project ‘The Family’, an initiative that aims to empower family breadwinners through technology. Can you tell us more about this project?
In Bangladesh, many entry-level tech employees earn below the subsistence wage level needed to support their family, and this has the potential to create a whole host of socio-economic problems.

I started ‘The Family’, a volunteering platform, to arrange for volunteers to conduct technical training for these tech workers, so they may upgrade their skills and knowledge, gain access to better employment opportunities, and have greater capacity to support their family.

I am grateful that ‘The Family’ made it to the Microsoft Seed Funding for Innovation Challenge, where it was awarded funding. This also gave me the chance to participate in TakingITGlobal’s Sprout e-course, which taught me how to create and monitor key metrics, keeping me on track to meet the project goals. This project has become a platform for like-minded individuals who want to make a positive change in society. We are currently campaigning in various university campuses to recruit more volunteers for ‘The Family’. We hope to assist 100 families, expand our work and become a sustainable long-term organisation in the near future.

If you could make a difference in the world through technology and coding, what would it be?
I hope for a world where every child is safe, and is guaranteed food, shelter, healthcare and education. If there are no limits on this vision, I would hope for ample schools, educators and open source learning resources. Receiving education is an important route for keeping children in safe environments, and in teaching them about skills that are fundamental to living a life of dignity and freedom. This includes hygiene, self-awareness, environmental protection, and basic numeracy and literacy.

In addition, I hope to localise important software, and have them in Bangla, our country’s mother tongue, so that more Bangladeshis can master and benefit from the useful programmes out there. This can help the preservation of Bangla, which is a key element of our national identity. I also hope to create digital platforms that facilitate learning for children and youth from seven to 25 years old.