Sayas

UCC : Generation Zero

Updated on March 14, 2019

  • Dr. Tun Aung Gyaw
  • U Hla Min (Systems)
  • U Hla Min (CO)

Dr. Tun Aung Gyaw

Senior (not by age) at UCC

Saya TAG (Dr. Tun Aung Gyaw, EC69) is a member of Generation Zero of UCC, DCS and ICST. He is the earliest volunteer of the UCC Project. It was a huge sacrifice since he could have received permanent jobs at RIT and the Industry as the top graduate of his class. Apart from the four sayas who founded UCC — Saya Chit, Saya Paing, Saya Myo and Saya Lay — Saya TAG is the most senior (not by age) of the UCC employees.

Name given by his father

His father U Tun Hlaing was a teacher (of his own private school), a lawyer, and an expert in astrology. He named his Sunday-born son as Tun Aung Gyaw.

Each Day of the Week (DOW) is associated with specific letters in the Burmese Alphabet.

DOW = Day of Week

  • 0 => Saturday (Ta Group)
  • 1 => Sunday (Ah Group)
  • 2 => Monday (Ka Group)
  • 3 => Tuesday (Sa Group)
  • 4 => Wednesday (La and Wa)
  • 5 => Thursday (Pa Group)
  • 6 => Friday (Tha and Ha)

Saya’s name is based on the naming convention :
(DOW – 1) followed by DOW followed by (DOW + 1).

Since he was born on Sunday (DOW = 1), his name starts with (Ta group for Saturday) followed by (Ah group for Sunday) and ends with (Ka group for Monday).

Most Burmese names use a variant :

  • DOW followed by (DOW + 1) — e.g. Aung Kyaw
  • DOW followed by (DOW + 3) — e.g. Aung Hla
  • DOW followed by (DOW + 4) — e.g. Aung Min

Student days

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 320+ fellow students. He received B.E. (EC) in 1969. He was among the top students 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 USA.

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 : In the early days, most Universities in the USA offer Computer Science (CS) under Mathematics Department or Electrical Engineering Department. Stanford University was the second among the US Universities to have a Computer Science Department with Professor George Forsythe as Chair. Under the supervision of Professor Forsythe, four educators developed the classic introductory book to teach Computer Science..

UCC Days

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 ICL ETC (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.

U TAG 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.

Sadly, 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. U TAG must have felt an intense pain about the “broken promise” despite his sacrifices.

U TAG served as Senior Engineer, Systems Division Manager, Associate Professor at DCS and ICST.

U TAG 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.

His perseverance paid off with a doctorate in CS from UIUC (University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign).

He is still working full time (often on multiple projects). Instead of driving, he now car pools or telecommutes.

His former students hold a high regard of him.

His parents

U TAG’s mother breast fed her children. Sadly, they passed away prematurely. When U TAG was born, his mother decided not to breast feed him. He is regarded as the eldest child. He has a younger brother and sister.

U TAG grew up healthy. He served as Joint Secretary of RIT Thaing Club with Saya U Tin Maung Nyunt (M60) as President.

U TAG’s father thinks and feels that U TAG as a child even after Saya got married. Grape vine says that his father visited him. At night U TAG;s father would check if U TAG was tucked up in a blanket.

Phobia

U TAG has a phobia. He is afraid of being haunted by spirits. When UCC was housed temporarily at Mandalay Hall (before the UCC buildings were built and completed at the Thamaing College Campus, there were “stories” about students being “killed” in the “demonstrations” and that “ghosts” were rambling in and around Mandalay Hall. U TAG would ask Ko Pauk Si or some one to accompany him to the rest room (late at night).

Micro-Reunions

U TAG loves to work and rarely take vacation to travel.

He visited the San Francisco Bay Area after finishing his workshop/seminar in Southern California. U Aung Myint Oo (EC84) and Daw Thida Khin took their saya sightseeing (including a trip to Yosemite).

He attended the First RIT Alumni Reunion held in the East Coast. He entertained the attendees with his jokes.

U TAG and Ma Maw invited to the wedding reception of their younger son at Cape Cod. U TAG brought his lap top to work on “emergency issues at work”.

His son would drive U TAG to the Annual RIT-UCC Gathering in New Jersey hosted by U Khin Maung Oo (Ivan Lee, M69). The timing is usually chosen so that Saya Dr. Aung Gyi (from Canada) and Saya U Soe Paing (from Myanmar) can participate.

Ivan hosted me for about two weeks. I met U TAG and other alumni from RIT and UCC. Ivan planned a whirlwind trip to Canada and the East Coast offering his Mercedes. He drove for some time, but U Frederick Thetgyi graciously took over.

U Hla Min (Systems)

I joined UCC as Maintenance Engineer of the Systems Division headed by Saya U Soe Paing. Later, I served as

  • Senior Systems Programmer
  • Business Applications Manager
  • Lecturer at the Department of Computer Science (DCS)
  • Associate Professor of Software Technology at the Institute of Computer Science and Technology

Saya U Soe Paing, Saya U Aung Zaw and I wrote Notes and User Guides.

I used Hla Min (Systems) to write computer articles in the Guardian.

U Hla Min (CO)

Grape vine says that CO (Chief Operator) U Hla Min was named Pauk Si by his SPHS classmates. 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. (EP) in 1970. He joined UCC in 1970 as CO. Under the UCC program, he studied for a year in the 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 where Dr. Min Lwin (Maurice Hla Kyi, 2nd in Burma in 1964 from SPHS, cousin of “Lake” Win Maung) examined CO and found out 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.”

U Aung Myint and U Maung Maung Gyi are his classmates from SPHS. U Soe Win is his classmate from RIT.

U Khin Maung Zaw (KMZ, EC76) wrote :

KJ, my advanced and sincerely apology for what I am going to say here. As the Sayadaw U Vinaya has mentioned more than once at the time, “ေဂ်ာ္နီ နွိပ္ဆက္ very bad”, you were the one who brought us to Kaba Sun Lun Gu Kyaung, to be ordained as Donlabas. The first time, if my re-collection is correct, was on Saturday – eve or day before the eve of Thingyan. The entire HE Engineering gang was there as we were leaving after the weekly Saturday maintenance.

Many of us, excluding me, had their head shaved there, and Ko Aung Myint went back home in E2000. had to tell his wife that he would be in monk hood, collected some essentials and came back to the monastery.

Please don’t get me wrong, I am forever indebted to you for introducing there including the meditation.

U Aung Myint (UCC) wrote :

KJ make sure (taking advance deposit or ‘စရံ ‘ ) that we can’t change our minds or asking excuses. We were (Ko Ngwe Soe and myself) shaved ahead our hair before taking our belongings in our homes.

Categories: Sayas

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