To celebrate coding and programmers, 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: Melick Rajee Baranasooriya
Country: Sri Lanka
Occupation: Tech Lead at Pyxle Pte Limited

Bio:
With two IT degrees under his belt and extensive capabilities in development and consultation for Microsoft related technologies, Melick’s technological prowess is beyond doubt. But it’s his passion and drive in sharing important insight with fellow professionals and learners that sets him apart. Dedicated to creating value in the Sri Lankan IT scene, Melick regularly conducts sharing sessions and workshops and his efforts have earned him the title of Most Valuable Professional in Leadership Technology.

Can you tell us about your experience in learning to code – when did you become serious in programming and did you learn it by yourself?
I started my programming career as a freelancer for VB6 development in 2002. Still a student then, I underwent coding tutorials frequently to hone my craft in my free time. I referred to many books as well, and even started creating programmes to solve hypothetical problems in case studies that I generated on my own.

Which areas of coding have you worked on the most? Can you give a specific program of coding that you used to tackle a problem?
I once designed a Sinhala Unicode Based solution [MRB1] for Sinhala Dictionary Centre’s Information Management System, which, at the time, was incapable of efficiently processing the huge amount of translations and word reviews for the dictionary.

Combining C# and SQL technology, the solution that I wrote made processes more efficient – the system is now fit to handle the entire process of creating a dictionary, from word approvals to the organisation of lexicons and subs.

Tell us about something interesting that you have been doing for the past 3-6 months.
For the past three months, I’ve introduced SharePoint applications to students in the University of Kelaniya, conducted a session on building web-based applications for the Sri Lankan Air Force and advised people on the management of multi-lingual content in SharePoint at SharePoint Forums.

Aside from these activities, I’ve also been actively conducting workshops in rural areas of Sri Lanka to improve technological literacy.

How did the idea of sharing with rural communities come about, and what kind of programme did you teach them exactly?
When I served as the vice-president in my university’s computer society, my team and I organised a series of workshops and seminars targeted at schools in rural areas. We were determined to address the unequal spread of IT literacy in Sri Lanka, so we visited the South, North and Central provinces to conduct workshops and activities. We felt a more pressing need to share our computing knowledge instead of just providing hardware, because without basic computing skills, even the latest devices and hardware will be underutilised.

One of our beneficiaries was Nihiluwa Maha Vidyalaya, a public school situated in the southern district of Hambantota. Despite a strong emphasis on ICT education, the school still faced a shortage of well-trained teachers. Hence, over a period of five days, we conducted workshops and programmes on establishing internal networks, shared our expertise with teachers and even implemented a File Share server to facilitate sharing of online content and materials.

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 (on coding)? Would there be a specific area of code that you would strongly encourage them to learn?
For beginners, my advice is not to copy source codes from the Internet. Copy and pasting may seem like the easy way out, but it doesn’t help you learn. You can refer to them, but remember to write your own coding lines. You’ll remember it much better than just copying from the source code.

Coders should definitely master one language first before thinking about picking up another; don’t learn multiple languages at once.

I’m inspired by… Sharing my knowledge among the community and specialising in what I do.