UCC Compilation [1]

For archive (Updated on February 26, 2019)

This post of a Compilation of Memories of UCC and covers (0) to (9). I wrote 40+

Memories of UCC (0)


In the early days, there were no computers in Burma. IBM (International Business Machines) based in the United State and ICL (International Computers Limited) based in the United Kingdom had presence in Burma. Both companies were not ready to introduce computers to Burma. They were supposedly content with leasing unit-record equipment (calculators, tabulators, …) using punched cards (which were “reused” as wrappers of ” zee thee htokes “). The companies maintained the machines with their staff. U Aung Khin was the IBM representative in Burma. U Kyaw Tha was the ICL representative in Burma. They were highly paid compared to the Government employees. Due to the policies then in place, IBM might not have “incentives” to introduce computers and computing technology to Burma.

In the early sixties, Saw McCarthy Gyaw (Burma Railways) wanted to “upgrade” to an ICL computer, but the Coup d’etat in 1962 and subsequent restriction of foreign currency exchange (and budget planning rules) “effectively derailed” the idea of “computerization in Burma”.

In the mid sixties, Saya Chit ( Dr. Chit Swe ) was Head of the Mathematics Department at IE (Institute  of Economics). Saya Chit proposed the need of a computer for teaching and research to Saya Nyi Nyi ( Dr. Nyi Nyi, then Secretary [Deputy Minister] of Education). Saya Nyi Nyi suggested the scope to be “extended” for a computer to serve the staff and selected students of the Universities and Institutes. Thus, the UCC (Universities’ Computer Center) Project was “conceived”. Saya Chit later became Professor at Mathematics at RASU (Rangoon Arts and Science University). Saya offered space at the Mathematics Department for the early volunteers of the UCC Project. Saya later obtained permission to use Mandalay Hall for use by the UCC Project before the UCC Building could be completed in Thamaing College Campus . Saya Chit served as the Founder/Director of UCC. He initiated the academic and training programs. He stressed the importance of technology transfer, leapfrogging technology, knowledge sharing (internally and externally), and challenging the staff and students to try their best.

Saya Chit requested Saya Paing (U Soe Paing) to help design and implement the UCC project. Saya Chit also inquired the mother of Saya Myo (U Myo Min), who was working at IBM UK after completing his CA (Chartered Accountant) if Saya Myo would be interested to come back to Burma and help with the UCC project. Saya Paing “recruited” his friend Saya Lay (U Ko Ko Lay) to help with the UCC project in general and with the UCC Building Design and Implementation in particular.

As Saya Paing mentioned in “Computer ah sa UCC ga”, it took a really long time to get UCC up and running. UNDP (United Nations Development Program) would be the Funding Agency. UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) would be the Executing Agency.

Note :

For several years, Saya Paing tried to recruit his top students — including my cousin U Thaung Lwin (EC66) — to help with the project and become the pioneer computer engineers. U Thaung Lwin, who was “Top of his class”, received an offer to join IBM Burma. It was good news and bad news. The good news was that he was offered a reasonably high salary (based on the then salary of engineers joining the Government Departments). The bad news was that he would have to wait a long time until the first computer was purchased and installed at the CSO Computer Section, He had to maintain the “leased” Unit Record Machines for several years.

Saya TAG (Dr. Tun Aung Gyaw, EC69) was the first and longest volunteer for the UCC Project.

Saya Paing transferred from the Department of Electrical Engineering (EE) at the Rangoon Institute of Technology (RIT) to UCC as Manager of the Systems Division. Saya Lay transferred to UCC. Saya Myo joined UCC. The three served as Managers for Systems, Operations, Applications (Scientific, Business …) . Saya Paing left UCC in the eighties to pursue a career as Technical Adviser and Consultant for the UN (United Nations) projects in several countries. Saya has documented his experiences from the early States Scholarship to the UN assignments.

I was fortunate enough to be a member of Generation Zero along with my mentors and Saya TAG.

Since there are blanks to be filled in the history of UCC, DCS (Department of Computer Science), ICST (Institute of Computer Science and Technology) and UCSY (University of Computer Studies Yangon), several people asked me to take the challenge or at the very least motivate others to share their experience and journey regarding IT in Burma. Relying on (a) my memory, which is reasonably good but imperfect, (b) my story telling skills which I inherited from my father, “Thin Saya“, “Myin Saya” and “Kyar Saya”, (c) my training in “Communication and Leadership” from Toastmasters International to become a DTM (Distinguished Toastmaster), (d) my experience as a freelance writer, editor, translator, editor, coach, mentor, I have tried my best to prepare material in the form of readable chunks. I request sayas and alumni to enhance the document with photos and anecdotes.

Memories of UCC (1)

The Early Days Of Computerization In Burma

UCC was founded in 1971 with Saya Chit as Director, Saya Paing as Systems Division Manager, Saya Myo as Applications Division Manager, and Saya Lay as Operations Divisions Manager. The UCC Project was started by Saya Chit (then Head of Mathematics Department at the Institute of Economics) with the help of Saya Paing (then Assistant Lecturer of Electrical Engineering at the Rangoon Institute of Technology) and several others. The early days of Computing in Burma/Myanmar has been presented in several articles in Burmese and English by Saya Paing including “Computer ah sa UCC ga”.  Saya Zaw (U Aung Zaw) has also recorded his memories about UCC in his book “Bawa and Dhamma”. The book was published and distributed by his elder sister.

Departments At UCC In The Early Days

The early Departments and sub-departments at UCC include the following :

(a) Office Of The Director

The Office is used to hold meetings with Board of Directors & Advisers. It also provided service for the Experts including Dr. S. I. Saleeb (Project Director) and Professor Harry D. Huskey (GBNF)

(b) Administration

U Myint Aung (GBNF) was the Superintendent. He was healthy and passed away lately in his eighties. He was succeed by U San Win. He unfortunately suffered a stroke.

There were several UDC (Upper Division Clerk) and LDC (Lower Division Clerk). Ko Ba Than Chein, Ko Than Aye, Ko Tun Myint, and Ko Khin Maung Lwin.

There were several Peons. The four Sayagyis had a Peon each as their PA (Personal Assistant).

There were three Secretaries (for preparing reports and teaching materials). KLM (Daw Khin Lay Myint, GBNF), Bo Waing (U Win Myint), and KKS (Daw Khin Khin Su). All later made career changes. KLM later became an Admin Officer. Bo Waing became a Programmer and later worked (taught, translated …) at Winner Computer Group. KKS moved to Total (Oil Company owned by the French).

There were several Security Personnel (for the day, evening and night shifts). U Tun Kywe, an army Veteran, usually “guards” the entrance to the Computer Room (on the Ground Floor of the UCC Building). He also vets the visitors climbing up the stairs to meet the staff.

There were several Maintenance Personnel. They include Daw Ngwe Tin, Maung Myint, Aye Aye Myint, Hla .Hla Myint, U Hla Pe, …

There were a couple of Drivers. Sad to note that Saya Chit’s driver (who moonlighted as a Side Car Operator) was hit by a train at a railroad crossing.

There were “volunteer” drivers including U Myint Aung, Ko Win Hlaing, and Ko Soe Myint Gyi.

(c) Systems Division

Saya Paing, as Systems Division Manager, managed Engineers headed by Saya TAG, Maintenance technicians headed by AM (U Aung Myint), System Programmers headed by Saya Zaw, System Librarian …

I was a Hardware Engineer before becoming Senior Systems Programmer, Business Applications Manager (all at UCC), Lecturer at DCS (Department of Computer Science) and Associate Professor of Software Technology at ICST (Institute of Computer Science and Technology).

KSM (Ko Soe Myint, UN Retiree) wrote :

Also included in Systems Division before I left UCC were Saya U Mg Mg Htay, U Than Lwin, Rafi (Rafiul Ahad), U Tin Win, U Soe Win, KSM, KZ (Ko Khin Zaw), KMZ (Ko Khin Mg Zaw), Silver (Ko Ngwe Soe), Ko Mg Mg Tun, Ko Win Mg, Tin Tin Pyone. Later Eng U Tin Win and Tin Tin Pyone moved to FRI (Forestry Reserve Inventory).

Note :

Saya Zaw and U Than Lwin transferred to CSO (Central Statistical Organization). U Soe Win transferred to PTC (Post & Telecommunications). KMZ moved to Singapore and then to the US. Rafi moved to Thailand and then to the US. Silver moved to Singapore. Saya TAG, U Mg Mg Htay and Ko Mg Mg Tun moved to the US. Ko Win Mg moved to Australia.

(d) Applications Division

Saya Myo, as Applications Division Manager, managed Application Programmers & Analysts for business applications, scientific & engineering applications. Later, the Applications Division was restructured in Business Applications Division (with Saya Myo as Manager) and Scientific Applications Division (with Saya Lay as Manager).

Note :

Saya Paing subsequently managed both Systems Division and Operations Division. Bo Shoke (U Mya Thein, GBNF) was the most vocal among the application programmers.

Application Programmers include Ah Thay Lay (U Thein Oo), Mra (U Mra Tun), Kyein (U Kyaw Nyein, GBNF), Htaw Kyin (U Htin Kyaw), Saya Maung (U Tun Shwe), Japan Sayagyi (U Aung Hlaing), Joe Than (Dr. Soe Than), U Myint Oo, U Win Naing, Ju Ju (Daw Tin May Lwin), Daw Thin Thin Aung, Judy (Daw Nwe Nwe Win), Ma Nge (Daw Nge Ma Ma Than, GBNF), Daw Than Than Tint, Daw Gilmour Hole, Boe (U Boe Ba Shan), Daw Hpyu Hpyu Aung, Gary (U Sein Myint Maung), and Ma Mu (Daw Khin Aye Mu).

(e) Operations Division

Saya Lay originally managed the Operations Division. After the restructuring, Saya Lay managed the Scientific Applications Division. The Operations Division was handed over to Saya Paing. Pauk Si (U Hla Min, GBNF) was CO (Chief Operator). There were several Operators. They include MMG (U Mg Mg Gyi), Ah Ba (U Maung Maung Lay), Ah Leong (U Kyaw Swar), Dobat Sayagyi (U Win Hlaing), Sunlun Kappiya (U Soe Myint, M72, GBNF), U Myint Swe, U Hla Aung, U Kyi Win, U Tun Kyi, U Tin Win, U Than Tun, and Charlie (U Myint Lwin, Burma Judo Champion). Several later made career changes as Programmers and Teaching Staff. U Soe Myint retired as Pro-Rector.

In the early days, CO, MMG, Ah Leong, Dobat Sayagyi, Sunlun Kappiya … served as Shift Leaders. There were three Shifts. The Morning Shift was run for staff, students and general users. The Evening and Night Shifts were run for selected user departments. The Population Census Data Project had a high priority.

There were several operators for card punch, manual punches, punched card verifiers, and sorter. Some did double duty as Job Controllers. They include Daw Nyunt Nyunt Tin, Daw Thi Thi Aye, Daw Hla Hla Win (GBNF), Daw Win May Thaung (GBNF), Daw Kyu Kyu Lwin (GBNF), and Busibaung (Daw Khin Si Thaung). Several later changed their careers or went overseas. There was also a Librarian in charge of the Magnetic Disks and Magnetic Tapes.

(f) Volunteers

Kudos to the many unsung heroes who volunteered for gratis or for a per diem of Three Kyats and Fifteen Pyas. They worked for various divisions. Without them, the introduction of Computer Technology to Burma would not have been smooth and successful.

Memories of UCC (2)

Pauk Si

Grape vine says that CO (Chief Operator) U Hla Min was named Pauk Si by his classmates at SPHS (St. Paul’s High School). His father had lent money to a Pauk Si vendor, but the vendor could not pay back the loan. So, at break time, CO will go to claim one Pauk Si or more depending on his appetite. He matriculated in 1964 and received his B.E. (Electrical Power) in 1970. He joined UCC in 1970 as CO. Under the UCC program, he studied for a year in UK and also found his soulmate Daw Tin Win who was undergoing “advanced” nursing training. CO was afraid of getting hospitalized. CO was healthy. He would rarely wear the “coat/jacket” that is mandated for those working in the “air conditioned” Computer Room. He would often wear a sports shirt. So, it was a surprise to learn that CO, after returning from spending as a temporary monk at Taung Pu Lu monastery, fell ill. He was admitted to RGH (Rangoon General Hospital) where Dr. Min Lwin (Maurice Hla Kyi, 2nd in Burma in 1964 from SPHS, cousin of “Lake” Win Maung, and CO’s classmate) examined CO and found out that CO had a serious problem. CO’s voice had lost intensity during his stay in the hospital. He told us to be good towards the sayas, colleagues, friends and family members. We sensed that it was his farewell message. Sad to say, he passed away in his mid-thirties. He did not drink or smoke, but he ate (may be a little bit indiscriminately). He presumably had Hepatitis and later “cirrhosis”.

Tone Kyaw

When CO passed away at the tender age (may be 35), I became a Tone Kyaw. Some people were not aware that there were two HLA MIN who attended SPHS & RIT & worked at UCC. They both have spouses from the medical profession. So it was not surprising when two government departments where I had given guest lectures inquired UCC where and when they could send wreaths (Lwan Thu Pan Khwe) for me. A representative from one department said, “It is said that people laugh a lot before they die. U Hla Min was telling us jokes.” A person from the second department said, “U Hla Min looks frail and unsteady when he walks. No wonder he passed away.” To top it all, Ko Moe Hein (Ajala, ChE69) took a day off to send me off. He was RIT Selected for Swimming and Water Polo. He had a loud voice that can drown the voices of ten or so “normal” people. So he became the de facto cheerleader for the RIT Sports Teams. He was working at HI (Heavy Industries), where my older brother was in charge. At Kyandaw Cemetery. he came down from a bus. When he saw me, he stared at me as if I was a ghost. He explained, “Your brother seemed so calm when we learned that you had passed away. So I look a day off to give you last respects thinking that ‘If your brother does not care about you there will not be many people at last journey'”. That’s how I became a Tone Kyaw.

Relationship With Kaba Aye Sun Lun Gu Kyaung

CO was partly responsible for the UCC staff members visiting Kaba Aye Sun Lun Gu Kyaung and then later participating in the Thingyan Su Paung Yahan Khan Pwes. He and Saya Paing were temporary monks at the monastery where Sayadaw U Wara (Win Paing, ChE70, SPHS 64, younger brother of Saya Paing) was Taik Oke (second in command). Ko Soe Myint (M72, GBNF) and his family (parents, siblings, …) are devotees. I visited CO and Saya Paing and later became a devotee and a Donlaba monk in the Thingyan period.

Note :

One year, several UCC employees and students became Donlaba (temporary monks) at Kaba Aye Sun Lun Kyaung. The tradition of “UCC Su Paung Yahan Khan” carried on at the various monasteries (Chan Myei Yeiktha, Mingun Kyaung, …).

RIP (Rest in Peace) my dear friend and my name sake. We remember you saying, “Sayas, You will realize my values when I am gone.” AM and MMG are his classmates from SPHS. Ko Soe Win is his classmate from RIT.

Memories of UCC (3)

Bo Shoke

Grapevine says that U Mya Thein (GBNF) earned the nickname “Bo Shoke” at the Institute of Economics (IE). His first nickname was supposedly “Bo Gyoke” because he had his hair cut like Bogyoke Aung San. He was a brilliant and talented student. He would “explain” the lectures in a room to his fellow students. Grapevine says that the turn out to his “free tuition” was larger than that at the regular classes given by the sayas.

He had a vast array of General Knowledge. He would read books on religion, medicine, engineering … and would get involved in lots of activities thereby earning the name “Bo Shoke” (One who gets his hands wet in things that are of no concern to him). He joined the Commerce Department at the Institute of Economics as a tutor. When UCC was formed, it needed people with diverse skills. Bo Shoke, Ah Thay Lay, Htaw Kyin and Saya Maung transferred to UCC from IE . The first two majored in Commerce. The last two majored in Statistics. They all became Application Programmers, and went for further studies to the United Kingdom.

Bo Shoke was outspoken. During a visit to UCC, VIPs (ministers, deputy ministers, …) were standing and waiting for U San Yu. Bo Shoke entered the room and shouted, “Sit down”. All complied. (What a surprise!)

Bo Shoke not only taught at UCC, but he also lectured to the monks at ITBMU (International Theravada Buddhist Missionary University).

Like Father, Like Son

One day Bo Shoke’s father came to UCC. He carried a bunch of bananas to UCC. He asked U Tun Kywe , an army veteran serving as security, the office of Saya Myo (Bo Shoke’s manager). When he found out Saya Myo was not much older than Bo Shoke, he went downstairs and then handed the bunch of bananas to the elderly U Tun Kywe. Like father, like son.

Note :

I succeeded Saya Myo, and later Bo Shoke succeeded me as Business Application Manager. Fortunately or unfortunately, one who could “contest” Bo Shoke appeared. It was his sister-in-law.

Memories of UCC (4)

Still So Young And Passionate: Saya Chit

Saya Chit is 88 years young, but still has an active mind. Until a few years ago, Saya was still “supervising” Burmese students in Australia with their research and theses. Saya studied at Mandalay University. His contemporaries include Saya Di (Dr. Maung Di) and Saya U Khin Maung Tint (Tekkatho Phone Naing), who supposedly based his characters on his friends. Saya did his studies in UK. For a time, Saya U Ba Than (Retired Professor of Mechanical Engineering, RIT) was his room mate. Saya was Head of Mathematics Department at the Institute of Economics when he proposed to the Ministry of Education to acquire a computer for research and teaching. Saya Nyi Nyi requested Saya Chit to extend the scope of his proposal to cover selected universities and institutes. The UCC project was born. It would take several years before UNDP (United Nations Development Program) would approve to fund the UCC project. UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) would act as the Executing Agency.

Mandalay Hall (Temporary Home for UCC)

Saya Chit succeeded Saya U Ba Toke as Professor of Mathematics Department at RASU.

Saya recruited volunteers to help plan for the implementation of UCC. Saya received permission to use Mandalay Hall as the “temporary home” for UCC. Saya Chit, Saya Paing, Saya Myo, Saya Lay and several others conducted courses on Computer Fundamentals & Programming, Systems Analysis and Design, Numerical Methods, …

Thamaing College Campus (Permanent Home for UCC)

UCC moved over to Thamaing College Campus as a neighbor to RC2 (Regional College Two). Saya Chit became the Founder/Director. Saya Paing, Saya Myo and Saya Lay became Managers in charge of Systems Division, Applications Division, and Operations Division.

Note :

After reorganization, Applications Division was split into Business Applications Division and Scientific Applications Division.

Saya’s Vision

Saya was a pioneer and an advocate of “Technology Transfer”, “Leapfrogging Technology”, “Knowledge Sharing”, TOSS (Team of System Specialists) …

Saya is modest. During a trip to Chauk Htat Yone (Six Storey Office) , the admin would “ignore” Saya Chit and would pay respect to U Myint Oo (his student and volunteer assistant), who was well dressed and was carrying a suitcase.

Saya insisted a Component in the UCC Project Plan to invite the elite Computer Scientists and Practitioners including two Past Presidents of the prestigious ACM (Association Of Computing Machinery), a future ACM Turing Award Winner (considered as the Nobel Prize for Computing) to UCC and jump start courses in Computer Science and Applications.

Note :

Saya thought that I had served as an Editor for a newspaper. I had written articles, poems and translations for Guardian and WPD (Working People’s Daily) newspapers and Forward Magazine. Maung Thaw Ka (Bohmu Ba Thaw, Chief Editor of Forward Magazine, GBNF) “suggested” that I should join his staff (upon learning that I was an RIT alumni volunteering for the UCC Project). In my 3rd BE, editors from NAB (News Agency Burma) headed by Tet Toe (U Ohn Pe, Chief Editor) “invited” me to join their staff.

My parents supported my hobbies, but they wanted to make sure that I have a good education and a decent job. I became a writer (real and ghost) for Saya’s numerous projects: High School Mathematics Curriculum Development, CTK (Children’s Treasury of Knowledge), Planning for computerization of Government Departments, and TOSS (Team of System Specialists).

Life After UCC

After UCC, Saya served as Rector of RASU, but his passion for his “Dream Child” and his care for his former students never diminished. After retirement, Saya taught at ABAC (Assumption Business and Accounting College in Bangkok, Thailand). Saya later relocated to Sydney, Australia. Several Burmese there completed their doctorates under his supervision.

Reunion With Saya In Australia

In June 2006, I visited Sydney, Australia to attend several gatherings: (a) RIT alumni gathering headed by Saya U Hla Myint (Charlie, M65) and Saya U Myo Win (Melvin, M65, GBNF) (b) UCC alumni gathering at Saya Zaw’s house where we paid homage to Saya Chit and Saya Dr. Freddie Ba Hli (National Planning Adviser & Board Member of UCC) (c) Old Paulians gathering at Olympic Park organized by Dr. Thann Naing (Bonnie Kywe, SPHS, Geology)

Saya’s Present

Saya asked me to give a lecture or seminar to interested young people in Sydney. He then presented me with his hat. I hope that Saya’s hat can “transfer” his brilliant thinking into my head.


In the past years, Saya visited Singapore and Myanmar and shared his wisdom, knowledge and experience. He has minor health problems, but his mind is sharp as ever.

Final Remarks

Saya, thanks for believing in us and for giving us opportunity to take challenges.

Memories of UCC (5)

Saya Paing and Saya Lay

One day, the people on the UCC ferry shouted, “Saya Paing”. To their amazement, ICS U Paing (Saya’s father) came out. U Paing’s spouse Daw Oo Yin is the daughter of Sir Po Tha . Saya Paing is the second son of U Paing. Saya and his siblings Dr. Myo Paing, U Win Paing (Sayadaw U Wara, ChE70) and U Kyaw Paing (Putra Cup Player) are excellent golfers and Champions at RGC (Rangoon Golf Club) and BGC (Burma Golf Club). Saya Paing matriculated from SPHS (St. Paul’s High School) in 1956 along with Saya Lay(GBNF), U Win Htein (PWD, GBNF). Bohmu Percy (Navy), U Richard Than Se (ChE), and U Ba Min (Astronomy & Maths).

Note :

Bohmu Percy is a nephew of U Robert Hole , who served as English Editor of RUESU (Rangoon University Engineering Students Union) Annual Magazine. Daw Gilmore Hole and her younger sister (daughters of U Robert Hole) are sayamas at ICST/UCSY.

Saya Paing stood 13th in Matriculation and was awarded Collegiate Scholarship. Saya was joint 1st in I.Sc. examination for the highest marks in Mathematics and was awarded a Gold Medal. Saya rowed and coxed at RUBC. Saya won prizes including the Inter-Hall Fours. Saya was selected as a States Scholar to attend Stanford University along with Saya Lay and Bohmu Percy. Saya received his BS and MS in EE (Electrical Engineering). Saya did programming for his studies and also worked part-time as computer operator. Upon his return to Burma, Saya joined the EE Department as Assistant Lecturer. His sponsor supposedly was UBARI (Union of Burma Applied Research Institute). At a research congress held in the Main Campus, Saya presented a paper covering Digital Logic and Circuits. Saya Chit was impressed. Through Saya U Nyi Nyi (EE saya, now in UK), Saya Paing gained contact with Saya Chit. The rest is history.

Saya Paing “promised” to recruit his “top students” to join the UCC Project, but the long delay of the Project to get funded made the task difficult. Saya Paing did another Masters (this time in Computer Science) at Southampton University in UK. For a detailed story of Saya’s life and work at RIT, UCC and overseas as a UN Advisor, read his articles in English and Burmese. Saya was my mentor at RIT and UCC. Sayagadaw Alice (Saw Yu Tint, T69) was my classmate at RIT. They have hosted several UCC mini-gatherings at their house. At one of the gatherings in 2007, Ko Po (U Htin Kyaw) not only attended the gathering, but also gave me a ride back home. Saya used to meditate and play golf. Recently he had a minor ailment (hurting his back and leg). Saya had a surgery in Singapore.

Saya Lay

Saya Lay matriculated from SPHS in 1956 along with Saya Paing and U Win Htein.

Saya studied BSCE and MSCE at Stanford University in the US. Saya joined PWD as AE (Assistant Engineer). He was “recruited” by Saya Paing to help with the UCC Project in general and the design and implementation of UCC Building in particular. Saya transferred to UCC as Operations Division Manager. He then served as Scientific Applications Division Manager. Saya studied Systems Engineering at the University of Lancaster in the UK. Saya worked at UCC until he passed away in the early 1990s.

Saya served as Professor of DCS. Saya later served as Professor of IS at ICST. Saya’s hobbies include tennis, soccer and volleyball. Saya has an excellent command of English.

Memories of UCC (6)

Saya Myo

Saya Myo matriculated from SPHS (St. Paul’s High School) in 1958. Saya is my double first cousin. Saya’s father is my maternal uncle. He passed away in his fifties. Saya’s mother is my paternal aunt. She lived to be 94. Saya won a medal for standing first in I.Com and another medal for standing first in B.Com. Saya completed CA (Chartered Accountant) in the United Kingdom and worked for IBM UK for four (or more) years.

One day, he had a call from his mother. She asked Saya if he wanted to come back to Burma to help Saya Chit & team with the UCC Project. Saya was studying and working in UK when his father passed away. Saya returned to Burma and joined UCC as Applications Division Manager. Later, Saya gracefully allowed Saya Lay to manage the Scientific Applications Division. Saya was contented to be the Business Application Manager.

Saya taught not only at UCC but also at the Institute of Economics and other Departments. During his spare time, Saya studied and completed Abhidhamma “Thingyo” course at Mingalar Byuha. Saya did his Masters in Systems Engineering at the University of Lancaster in UK.

Life After UCC

Saya migrated to US and worked for Seagate Technology and Connor. Saya is an avid reader and an accomplished conversationalist. Saya’s spouse is Daw Khin Khin (RIT English, UNESCO, aunt of Kyaw Thu). They attend several meditation retreats every year (in San Jose, California & at Hse Mile Gone monastery).

Final Remarks

I succeeded Saya Myo as Business Applications Manager. Bo Shoke was my successor.

Memories of UCC (7)

True Love Story : Saya Zaw And Ma Kyawt

Saya Zaw (“Ye Baw Gyi”, U Aung Zaw) experienced a “True Love Story” about five years ago. He found out that both his kidneys were not good, but one was bad enough to need a transplant. Saya tried to get a donor for kidney. His beloved spouse Ma Kyawt offered to donate her kidney as a sign of unwavering love, companionship and trust. Tears of joy fell from Saya’s eyes. For details, please read his book “Bawa and Dhamma”. Saya was born in Bogale and is a nephew of Bogale U Kywe (a renowned palmist, GBNF), who both predicted the successful careers of Saya Chit, Bo Htay and [according to Grapevine] U Thant. Saya met his soul mate in Pathein [Bassein] College. Saya joined the Department of Mathematics, RASU. One day, Saya Chit asked him if he would like to join UCC. If Saya Zaw remained in the Mathematics Department, he would have a chance to do Ph.D. As for UCC, Saya Zaw would learn new technology, but a Ph.D is not guaranteed. Saya Zaw studied Masters in Computer Science at Southampton University along with Saya Paing who would do double-duty as a mentor. The Department Head was Professor D. W. Barron , who worked for the Computer Pioneer Maurice V. Wilkes at CUML (Cambridge University Mathematical Laboratory, later CU Computing Lab) and also wrote a CS monograph. Upon return to Burma, Saya Zaw taught M.Sc . and DAC (Diploma in Automatic Computing) courses. He is one of the “sayas of UCC sayas”. Saya led the Systems Programming team (managed by Saya Paing). Saya had training at UCSC (University of California at Santa Cruz) to have in-depth knowledge of Unix.

Life After UCC

Saya transferred to CSO (Central Statistical Organization) Department (which had installed an IBM computer). Saya went for IBM Training in Thailand. After retirement from CSO, Saya tried to find a new career and life overseas. Saya cared a lot about his children and their future. Saya was met in Bangkok by Ko Myint Oo (DAC, Co-op), who took him to ABAC (aka Assumption University). Ko Myint Oo requested the Brother Director (Principal) and his staff to “interview” Saya Zaw. To Saya’s surprise, he was offered a job to start that very day. Saya’s first assignment was to teach Pascal (a language designed by Nicklaus Wirth ). Saya mentioned that he used the ” Pascal Programming Guide ” prepared by me at UCC. Saya’s next stop was Sydney, Australia. He continued teaching at a University until his health conditions “worsened”. Saya had a kidney transplant about five years ago. The kidney was donated by his beloved spouse. Saya recovered, but he still have to face some side effects.

Knowledge Sharing

Saya wrote two books : one for private and one for public. The first book was for his grandchildren and covers the culture and religious teachings. Saya said, “It does not matter if they choose to profess another religion or belief. It matters that they should know their heritage and culture before making life decisions”. Saya wanted to share his life experience, poems, satires & articles, and the Dhamma discussions (weekly discussions with seniors including Saya Chit). He compiled them into a book called ” Bawa And Dhamma “. Saya’s older sister printed, published and distributed the book in Myanmar. I have a copy of the book. I was editor and reviewer of both books. I was honored to write the Preface  for ” Bawa and Dhamma “. Saya’s relatives are planning to publish a third book based on the poems and articles that were not published and/on written after Saya’s operation. Saya has also done Dhamma Dana and donated several books.

Final Remarks

Saya Zaw’s smiles, jokes and his Thingyan Sar covered up the “physical” pain. In 2006, during my visit to Sydney, Saya said solemnly, “Only 30% of my kidney is working.”

Few people would know the noble nature of Saya. I had first hand experience when I decided to move from Hardware to Software. Saya Zaw told the management that he would happily let me become the Senior Systems Programmer, even though it would be “blocking” his career advancement. I salute you, Saya Zaw. Thanks to Saya Paing for letting Saya Zaw and I co-author Guide books and Publications used at UCC.

Memories of UCC (8)

Saya TAG

Saya TAG is a member of Generation Zero of UCC, DCS and ICST. In fact, he is the earliest and longest volunteer of the UCC Project. Apart from the four sayas who founded UCC, Saya TAG is the most senior (not by age) of the UCC employees. His father was a teacher (of his own private school), a lawyer, and an expert in astrology.

Note :

DOW = Day of Week

0 => Saturday (Ta Group)

1 => Sunday (Ah Group)

2 => Monday (Ka Group)

3 => Tuesday (Sa Group)

4 => Wednesday (La & Wa)

5 => Thursday (Pa Group)

6 => Friday (Tha & Ha)

Saya’s name is based on the naming convention (DOW – 1) followed by DOW [Day of week] followed by (DOW + 1). Since he was born on Sunday (DOW = 1), his name starts with Saturday and followed by Monday.

Most Burmese names use a variant : DOW followed by (DOW + 1). There are other variants : DOW followed by (DOW + 3) or (DOW + 4).

Saya was from Ma Hlaing, Meiktila. He matriculated in 1963 and received a Collegiate Scholarship. He studied I.Sc.(A) at Mandalay University. Under the then new Education System, he was admitted to the first ever 2nd BE (Bachelor of Engineering) class at RIT with 300+ fellow students. He received B.E. (EC) in 1969. He was a top student for all the classes. He could have chosen to join several departments : RIT, MOC (Myanmar Oil Corporation), PTC (Post & Telecommunications), BBS (Burma Broadcasting Service) and more. Like some of his classmates (Ko Toung, EC69), he could have tried to migrate to the United States. Instead, he decided to be a volunteer (unpaid initially, and a “small” daily allowance of Three Kyats and 15 pyas) for the UCC Project. He learned several subjects and taught the course “A First Course in Computer Science” based on the book by Forsythe et. al. The course used Flowcharts and Programming.

 Note :

Stanford University was the second among the US Universities to have a CS (Computer Science) Department. Under the supervision of Professor George Forsythe, four educators developed the classic book to introduce CS. Other Universities offer CS under Mathematics Department or EE (Electrical Engineering Department).

Saya was determined to excel in Computer Science and complete Ph.D. (if and when an opportunity arises). He joined UCC as one of the earliest employees and headed the Engineering team (under the tutelage of Saya Paing). Saya Chit offered 24 + months of UN Fellowship : first for Hardware Training at ICLETC (International Computers Limited Engineering Training Center) and then study for M.Sc.  (Computer Science) at the now defunct ICS (Institute of Computer Science), University of London. Saya bought a typewriter and several CS books and studied them. He borrowed notes from Htaw Kyin (U Htin Kyaw), who was attending ICS (Institute of Computer Science) at the University of London. The higher authorities “deemed” that the Hardware Engineers “must” be present at the installation and commissioning of the ICL Computer System and then “stay on” to maintain the system. Saya must have felt an intense pain about the “broken promise” despite his  sacrifices. Saya served as Senior Engineer, Systems Division Manager, Associate Professor at DCS and ICST. Saya wanted to pursue his academic dream, but again the higher authorities “deemed” that he should go for a higher paying fellowship, but forgo his academic dreams.

Saya’s perseverance paid off with a doctorate in CS from UIUC (University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign). Saya is still working full time (often on multiple projects). Instead of driving, he now car pools or telecommutes.

Categories: UCC

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