- Dr. Chit Swe
- U Soe Paing
- U Myo Min
- U Ko Ko Lay (GBNF)
Dr. Chit Swe
Sayagyi Dr. Chit Swe founded UCC (Universities’ Computer Center) with the help of Saya U Soe Paing, Saya U Myo Min and Saya U Ko Ko Lay (GBNF). At UCC, the four sayas are fondly known as Saya Chit, Saya Paing, Saya Myo and Saya Lay.
Saya is a native of Ei Lar, Pyinmana.
He attended Mandalay University. His friends include Dr. Maung Di (Saya Di) and U Khin Maung Tint (Tekkatho Phone Naing (who supposedly based his characters on his friends).
Saya studied at the University of London and the University of Liverpool.
During his studies at the University of London, 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 Dr. 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.
The temporary offices for UCC were opened at Mandalay Hall, RASU. Computer Science and Application courses were offered to volunteers, selected sayas and students.
UCC moved over to Thamaing College Campus as a neighbor to RC2 (Regional College Two). Saya Chit became the Founder and Director. Saya Paing, Saya Myo and Saya Lay became Managers in charge of Systems Division, Applications Division, and Operations Division.
Later, Applications Division was split into Business Applications Division and Scientific and Technical Applications Division.
Saya Chit’s Vision
Saya was a pioneer and an advocate of
- Technology Transfer
- Leapfrogging Technology
- Knowledge Sharing
- Lifelong Learning
- TOSS (Team of System Specialists).
To help expedite the computerization in Burma, Saya Chit mandated the “training & knowledge transfer” component in the UCC project. The component would allow the invitation of elite Computer Scientists and Practitioners from USA, UK and Europe as short-term and long-terms experts at UCC.
The “training anad knowledge transfer” contract was awarded to Professor Harry D. Huskey (Past President of ACM), who taught at University of California Berkeley (UCB) and University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC). Dr. Huskey is a computer pioneer, ACM (Association of Computing Machinery) Fellow, and CHM (Computer History Museum) Fellow.
Dr. Huskey co-authored an early Computer Handbook with Korn. He designed a computer for the US Bureau of Standards. His students include Nicklaus Wirth, inventor of Pascal and several programming languages.
Dr. Huskey persuaded several distinguished Computer Scientists and Educators to transfer their knowledge and expertise.
The following is a partial list of the experts provided by Dr. Huskey.
- Professor Anthony Ralston (SUNY Buffalo, Past President of ACM) is an expert on Numeral Analysis and Structured Programming. He introduced Structured Programming to UCC sayas and students.
- Professor Peter Wegner (Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island) taught selected topics (Automata Theory, Parsing, Programming Languages). He authored an early self-assessment test for Computer Programmers.
- Professor Michael Stonebraker (UC Berkley) designed and implemented INGRES (Relational Database Management System) with Professor Eugene Wong and Gerald Held. The three would form Ingres and several other companies (such as Postgres). Professor Stonebraker won the ACM Turing Award a few back. He is affiliated with MIT.
- Dr. Malcolm P. Atkinson (Cambridge University Mathematics & Computer Lab) taught students M.Sc. (CS) with Systems Option for a year. He introduced BCPL, SLP and several programming languages. He supervised their theses.
- Professor Foreman Acton authored a book on designing and implementing algorithms to minimize computational errors.
Under the supervision of Saya U Soe Paing, U Aung Zaw, U Tun Aung Gyaw and several other sayas, Dr. Htay Lwin Nyo, Sai Aung Thurein, Ko Kyaw Zwar Than and Ko Sein Myint implemented projects (based on INGRES and other Databases) on ICL.
Khin Maung Zaw (KMZ, EC76, UCC) wrote :
In my line of work, prior to my retirement, Knowledge Transfer is one of the several criteria for the success of the Organization/Company. The others are “Documentation” and some mechanism to transfer/document “Tribal Knowledge”.
It was a major challenge for all of us, it was, and still is, a thankless catch up process in the very fast changing Internet. When someone from the management and/or product wanted some new features, the timeline always was ‘yesterday’. They almost always wanted it done ‘yesterday’ as we jokingly called it.
There are innumerable projects/processes we spent so much time could get shelved due to whatever reasons. Documentation and Knowledge Transfer became after thought. And when the key people moved on to other projects it became a nightmare for people who took over.
KMZ added :
There was a story told by Dr. Stonebraker where he learnt of the amazement on our faces when we saw his gigantic shoe. It was about the tough drill sergeant Stone and a small recruit called Stonebraker at the boot-camp. Since I was not a good story teller, I googled/binged Internet but none came up yet.
I believe Rafiul went to work for Stonebraker at Ingres when he moved to California. Htay Lwin Nyo told me about it when I met him. Ingres was eventually sold to CA (Computer Associates).
Editor’s Note :
One of my early assignments was to work with developers from Fujitsu and some subsidiaries, Computer Associates and some subsidiaries (including Ingres).
Saya Chit’s modesty
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 brief case.
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.
Saya believed in me and gave me the opportunity to take challenges. I was fortunate to be a member of several of Saya’s projects.
- Children’s Treasury of Knowledge (CTK)
- Editor, High School Mathematics (for the then new curriculum)
- Team of System Specialists (TOSS)
- Planning using PERT for the UCC implementation
- Preparing lecture notes and training manuals with Saya U Soe Paing and Saya U Aung Zaw
Saya was a Prime Mover and a proponent of “Technology Transfer”, “Leapfrogging Technology” and “Life long learning”.
A week in the Sagaing Hills
Ma Ma Mi (Daw Khin Khin Latt) is from Sagaing. She wanted Saya Chit to be a Yahan at a monastery in Sagaing Hills. Some monastery compounds are named after the towns in Irrawaddy Delta. Ko Myint Oo and I offered to be temporary monks with Saya Chit.
There are two phases to become a monk : (a) Novitiation (Shin Pyu) or “Lower Ordination” to become a “Ko Yin” (novice) (b) “Thane Wyn” or “Higher Ordination” in a Sima (Thane) in the presence of five or more monks to become an Upazin (monk).
In Yangon, the Higher Ordination ceremony takes 15 – 30 minutes. The final part is an Exhortation by the Preceptor. As Mentor to the newly ordained monk, the Preceptor shares his knowledge and gives advice.
When the Preceptor learned that Saya Chit is a renowned Professor and the Founder/Director of UCC, he gave “extra” attention by exhorting for “close to three hours”. Sayadaw enjoyed illuminating Saya Chit. Since I could barely squat, I was “offered” a pillow to rest my knees and I was allowed to “kneel down” on the pillow.
After a week of monk hood, we returned to our lay life sans (without) our hair. Ko Myint Oo is a social animal. He knew two Guides from “Tourist Burma”. At least one of them was a new hire. They had a reasonably tough assignment. They had to show an American student (in his senior year at a New York University) trying to write a first-hand report about the Buddhist artifacts in Mandalay and Sagaing. The Guides requested help from Ko Myint Oo, who shunted. In a moment I became a volunteer tourist guide explaining (to the best of my knowledge) Buddhism & rites and rituals.
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:
- RIT alumni gathering headed by Saya U Hla Myint (Charlie, M65) and Saya U Myo Win (Melvin, M65, GBNF)
- UCC alumni gathering at Saya U Aung Zaw’s house where we paid homage to Saya Chit and Saya Dr. Freddie Ba Hli (National Planning Adviser & Board Member of UCC, GBNF)
- Old Paulians gathering at Olympic Park organized by Dr. Thann Naing (Bonnie Kywe, SPHS66, Geology)
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 Saya’s brilliant thinking into my head.
In the past years, Saya visited Singapore and Myanmar and shared his wisdom, knowledge and experience.
Saya Chit is 89 years young, but he is healthy and has a sharp mind. His passion for UCC and Life Long Learning is strong as ever.
U Soe Paing
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 U Ko Ko Lay (GBNF), U Win Htein (PWD, GBNF). Bohmu Percy (Navy), U Richard Than Se (ChE), and U Ba Min (Astronomy & Maths).
Saya 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 U Ko Ko 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, who moved to the UK), Saya Paing gained contact with Saya Chit. The rest is history.
Saya Paing promised Saya Chit 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. They are available in SCRIB_D.
Sayagadaw and Classmate
Sayagadaw Daw Saw Yu Tint (Alice, T69) was my classmate at RIT.
She and Saya Paing have hosted several UCC mini-gatherings at their house.At one of the gatherings in 2007, Ko Po (U Htin Kyaw, Peter Wun) not only attended the gathering, but gave me a ride back home. He also briefly mentioned about his four-month detention.
After retiring from the UN, Saya would visit UK, USA and Singapore to spend time with his children and grandchildren.
During his trips to New Jersey, there would be several UCC-RIT gatherings.
Saya meditates and plays golf (for specific days of the week). Saya stopped both activities when he had a minor ailment (hurting his back and leg).
Per advice of Sayagadaw’s medical friends, Saya had a surgery in Singapore.
Saya has resumed playing golf. He now uses a golf cart ant the Seniors’ Tee.
U Myo Min
Saya U Myo Min matriculated from SPHS in 1958. He is a class mate of Dr. Soe Win (Retired Rector, YUFL)
Saya is the younger brother of Saya U Tin U (C), Saya U Ba Than (M), Dr. Daw Win Hlaing, Daw Myint Thwe, Dr. Myo Tint, U Tin Htoon (A60). He is the elder brother of U Thaung Lwin (EC66) and Daw Cho Cho Hlaing.
Saya is my double first cousin. His father is my maternal uncle, who passed away in his fifties. His mother is my paternal aunt, who lived to be 94.
Saya won medals for standing first in I.Com (Intermediate of Commerce) and B.Com (Bachelor of Commerce). He majored in Accounting.
Saya completed CA (Chartered Accountant) in the UK and worked as Computer Systems Analyst for IBM UK for 4+ 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 and 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 moved to Singapore and US. He retired after working for Seagate Technology and Connor.
Saya is an avid reader and an accomplished conversationalist.
Saya’s spouse is Daw Kin Kin Chit Maung (RIT English, UNESCO, sister of Saya U Tin Htut (M60) and aunt of Actor/Director Kyaw Thu). They attend several meditation retreats every year (in San Jose, California and at Hse Mile Gone monastery).
Dr. Soe Win wrote :
In addition to being a classmate at matriculation (St Paul’s), Ko Myo Min and his roommate Ko Mya Maung (another Paulian) welcomed me in London and took me to the flat in the same house, which they had kindly rented for me (and Ko Tin Maung Thein, another Paulian and electrical engineer). Ko Mya Maung later became his brother-in-law. Ko Myo Min is a super-likeable person who has now immersed himself in Vipassana practice.
KMZ wrote :
One episode stood out every time I thought about Saya Myo and Ma Ma Kin.
Some point in my life at UCC, I became a Passport expert, a complex process those days. I learned of all the processes including where to go for what, how much ‘tea money’ to pay to who at what point etc. This knowledge was acquired following many friends went through those processes.
Ma Ma Kin was working at UNICEF, and one day Saya Myo summoned me to help with the passport for her as she needed it to go to BKK. Some of you might remember the forms, “ကိုယ္ေရးရာဇဝင္” to be filled out 7 copies. Ala, Saya Myo and Ma Ma Kin came from very large family, so was both sides of their parents. Saya Myo has 9 siblings. Ma Ma Kin has 8 siblings. I do not exactly recall who filled in these forms, it could have been me, 6 sets of all names, work, addresses in 7 copies.
U Ko Ko Lay (GBNF)
- Saya U Ko Ko Lay matriculated from SPHS in 1956 along with Saya Paing (U Soe Paing), U Win Htein, Bohmu Percy Maung Maung, U Ba Min and U Than Se (Richard). He is also known as Saya Lay.
- He is the elder brother of U Than Htut (M67, RUBC Gold), Maw and Zaw (RUBC Gold, GBNF).
- He studied BSCE and MSCE at Stanford University in the US.
- Upon his return to Burma, he joined PWD as AE (Assistant Engineer).
- He was recruited by his friend Saya Paing (U Soe Paing) to help with the UCC Project in general and the design and implementation of UCC Building in particular.
- He transferred to UCC as Operations Division Manager and later served as Scientific Applications Division Manager.
- At UCC, he is fondly called as Saya Lay.
- He studied Systems Engineering at the University of Lancaster in the UK.
- He was Professor at the Department of Computer Science (DCS).
- He was Professor of Information Systems (IS) at the Institute of Computer Science and Technology (ICST).
- He enjoyed playing tennis, soccer and volleyball.
- He has an excellent command of English.
- He passed away in the early 1990s.
Adelyne Hpyu Hpyu Aung wrote :
Miss our Saya Lay. အဆူခံရတာေတြလဲမေမ့ပါ