For archive (Updated on February 12, 2019)
Still So Young And Passionate: Saya Chit
Saya Chit (Dr. Chit Swe) is 88 years young, but he still has an active mind and has a desire to payback to Myanmar.
Until a few years back, Saya was supervising Burmese students in Australia with their research and theses.
Saya studied at Mandalay University. His contemporaries include Saya Di (Dr. Maung Di) and Tekkatho Phone Naing (U Khin Maung Tint, who supposedly based his characters on his friends).
Saya did his studies at Imperial College (University of London) and the University of Liverpool in the UK.
During his studies at Imperial College, 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 would approve to fund the UCC project. UNESCO would act as the Executing Agency.
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 (U Soe Paing), Saya Myo (U Myo Min), Saya Lay (U Ko Ko Lay, GBNF) and several others conducted courses on Computer Fundamentals & Programming, Systems Analysis and Design, and Numerical Methods.
Thamaing College Campus
UCC moved over to Thamaing College Campus as a neighbor to RC2 (Regional College Two). Saya Chit became the Founder and Director of UCC. 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 was a pioneer and an advocate of “Technology Transfer”, “Leapfrogging Technology”, “Knowledge Sharing”, and 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
(a) two Past Presidents of the prestigious ACM (Association of Computing Machinery) : Professor Harry Huskey (UCSC) and Professor Anthony Ralston (SUNY Buffalo),
(b) a future ACM Turing Award Winner (considered as the Nobel Prize for Computing) : Professor Michael Stonebraker (UCB) to UCC and jump start courses in Computer Science and Applications.
Saya thought that I had served as an Editor for a newspaper. I had written articles, poems and translations for Guardian, WPD (Working People’s Daily) newspapers and Forward Magazine.
Upon learning that I was an RIT graduate volunteering for the UCC Project Maung Thaw Ka (Bohmu Ba Thaw, Chief Editor of Forward Magazine, GBNF) suggested that I should join his staff.
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 for Saya’s projects:
- High School Mathematics Curriculum Development
- Children’s Treasury of Knowledge (CTK)
- Planning for computerization of Government Departments
- Team of System Specialists (TOSS).
Saya believed in me and gave the opportunity to take challenges.
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 Assumption University — formerly known as 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:
- RIT alumni gathering headed by Saya U Hla Myint (Charlie, M65) and Saya U Myo Win (Melvin, M65, GBNF)
- 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)
- Old Paulians gathering at Olympic Park organized by Dr. Thann Naing (Bonnie Kywe, SPHS66, Geology70)
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.