Thursday, February 21, 2008

Winston Peters move over.

Amali WeerasingheWhen I was thinking about taking on the role of NZCSRSC'08 Foreign Affairs Minister, some one pointed out that FA Minister is the first person to blame if NZCSRS08 is poorly attended (this is not the voice in my head, but one of my colleagues who was eying the job). I took this as a challenge and my previous experience (as the UC local contact for NZCSRSC07) has helped me lots. My main job is to keep in touch with the local organisers at each university informed where we’re at with the conference. I think local contacts play a crucial role for making NZCSRSC08 a great success, as they promote the conference within their university and also help us understand what is feasible and what is not from their ends. I feel fortunate to work with a cool bunch of people who are just as keen about NZCSRSC08 as the bunch at UC. Thank you guys and gals.

Last year when I was the local contact for UC, my biggest challenge was to get the best travel for our group at UC and Lincoln, for that I had to jump through a lot of hoops. Thanks to our UC travel agent!! Were it not for our very efficient UC travel agent, there would have been no UC contingent at the 2007 conference. My advice for those few local contacts new to the role, is to find out the procedure to book travel as early as possible specially if your university travel agent has a reputation of being difficult to deal with (like UC). Also if there’s anything you’re uncertain about, hound us until you get a sufficient answer.

Ok, a little bit about me. I'm a PhD student at UC and also a mother (of a 4-yr old girl, Ravisha); one who is finding her PhD a breeze compared to her mothering duties … Though that said, it’s still no walk in the park. My husband is also working in the computer field, as a software developer. Yes you guessed it, computer talks are off-limits at home. We’re from warm, sunny Sri Lanka. Moved to Chch about 7 years ago and loving it here.

My PhD research is about encouraging students to be more involved while using Intelligent Tutoring Systems (adaptive educational system). My project is based on the evidence that some students tend to try different answers to the problems (provided by ITSs) just to complete the task without actually thinking (which equates to no learning happening ).

Before attending NZCSRSC07, my national network of CS people were very limited. (Facebook was not that popular then :). I got to meet so many postgrads, academics and people from the industry. I realised that I am not alone going through the different stages of the postgrad life (the excitement and the frustrations etc.) Also I got a lot of great ideas from the workshops at the conference (things like effective networking, time management, publishing etc.). We also got the chance to see the CS dept at Waikato, to get a taste how things are done and how things are set up. We actually had the chance to taste a Waikato-made cup of coffee from their Espresso machine.

So I highly recommend attending NZCSRSC'08. Even if you don't have a paper or a poster submission. If you're at the early stages of a research degree, this will give you a taste of a postgrad student life (the good, the bad and the ugly).

Amali, the NZCSRSC'08 Minister of Foreign Affairs, is considering a move to politics.

1 comment:

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