Dr. Sinnathamby Mahesan’s journey with the University of Jaffna commenced in 1977 as an undergraduate student of the Faculty of Science. He excelled in his studies and achieved a Second Class Upper Division in his BSc degree with a specialisation in Statistics from the University of Jaffna in 1981. His academic journey led to his appointment as an Assistant Lecturer in Mathematics at the University of Jaffna in 1982, and he later assumed the title of Lecturer in Mathematics in 1989.
Dr. S. Mahesan was a pioneering member during the establishment of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Jaffna. The Department of Computer Science (DCS) was founded in 1990 with signixcant contributions from the late Professor Kandiah Kunaratnam. This department found its initial home on the Ground Floor of the Mathematics Block, with the support of Mr. P. Makinan, who was the Head of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the time. Professor K. Kunaratnam served as the pioneering Head of the DCS. Dr. Mahesan transitioned from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics to the newly established Department of Computer Science on October 1, 1990. In his academic path within the realm of Computer Science, he embarked on the pursuit of an MSc degree in Computer Science obtained from the University College, Cardiff, in 1986.
In 1988, Dr. Mahesan received the British Technical Corporation Training Award, allowing him to embark on his PhD program in Computer Science at the University of Wales, Cardiff. He completed his PhD in 1992 and resumed his duties at the Department of Computer Science on June 29 of the same year, subsequently being promoted to the position of Senior Lecturer Grade II.
Over the years, Dr. Mahesan assumed various leadership roles, including Head of the Department of Computer Science and Head of the Computer Unit. He assumed the role of Acting Head of the Department of Computer Science on 25 January 1996 to 31 March 1997. Dr. Mahesan served as the Head of the Department of Computer Science from 01 April 1997 to 31 August 1999 and from 09 November 2000 to 28 February 2008. Furthermore, he took on the role of Head of the Computer Unit, serving from 06 October 1995 to 31 March 1997. During the time serving as the Head of the Department of Computer Science, he also served as the Acting Head of the Computer Unit.
He was promoted to the post of Senior Lecturer Grade I with effect from 29th of June 1998. Additionally, he served as a Student Counsellor from March 2, 1998, to May 1, 1998. On receiving the Commonwealth Fellowship award, Dr. Mahesan got the opportunity to spend a year at University of Wales UK from September 1999 updating his knowledge in various aspects in Computer science related matters. On his return from sabbatical leave, the syllabus was revamped to introduce Java as an object oriented programming language in the curriculum, and also he was instrumental in sustaining the Honours Degree programme in Computer Science with the knowledge updated and rebrushed during the sabbatical leave.
He also participated in the Standing Committee on IT at the UGC and acted as the Dean of the Faculty of Science during the absence of Prof. R. Kumaravadivel between 2003 and 2007.
Dr. Mahesan participated in the Workshop on Multimedia and Distance Education held at Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi, India in November 2004. Within the World Bank-funded projects at the University of Jaffna, he occupied various roles. These included serving as one of the Person-in Charges for the IRQUE project from 2006 to 2009, and acting as the Deputy Coordinator of ICT/UDG for the HETC project in 2015.
Dr. Mahesan’s visionary leadership and proactive efforts in enhancing computing services have elevated the University of Jaffna to a level comparable to other prestigious universities in Sri Lanka. Beginning in the year 2000, he initiated the provision of email service to the university staff by establishing Internet connectivity at the ofxce of the Dean Science. Subsequently, he expanded these services to include Internet access through Lanka Education and Research Network (LEARN), implemented a basic computer network interconnecting all the departments in the Faculty of Science, and introduced key services such as email, the university website, and a proxy server. Dr. Mahesan was instrumental in expanding the Computer Unit via various ways, along with the then Dean of the Faculty of Science, Professor R Kumaravadivel, who was instrumental in obtaining ADB Fund to establish Computer Unit as a centralised resource centre. Dr. Mahesans immense involvement enabled the University to obtain the SIDA fund in 2004 under which a campus wide xbre optic network was laid and all the permanent buildings were provided with network connectivity. Dr. Mahesan played a pivotal role in providing ICT education and access to all students of the University through the Computer Unit. He also facilitated ICT services for research-related activities and document preparation for the staff, as well as organised knowledge-sharing workshops to foster a culture of collaboration and learning.
Dr. Mahesan’s contributions extended beyond the university, including his involvement in the Board of Directors of the LEARN from 2010 to 2014. Dr. Mahesan commenced his second Sabbatical Leave starting from July 1, 2015, and concluded it on May 31, 2017, during which he was engaged with WSO2 Inc., University of Colombo School of Computing (UCSC), and Lanka Nippon Biztech Institute.
Dr. Mahesan has guided and mentored numerous postgraduate students to their successful graduation. This includes overseeing the completion of three MPhil degrees in Computer Science at the University of Jaffna in 2012, 2018, and 2021. Additionally, he co-supervised two PhD degrees in partnership with the University of Shefxeld, UK, in 2012, and with the University of Peradeniya in 2015. Moreover, he has provided guidance to nearly 100 undergraduate students in their individual research projects at the Department of Computer Science along with the management of a substantial workload, often under challenging circumstances. He has authored numerous research publications, encompassing two book chapters, seven journal articles, 13 conference full papers, and 19 abstracts. Additionally, he has penned three articles for school magazines.
Dr. Mahesan undertook a substantial workload single-handedly, largely due to stafxng shortages, particularly in challenging circumstances such as limited computer availability for practical sessions, power outages, and displacement. He delivered lectures on nearly all subjects offered by the Department of Computer Science together with Dr. S. Kanaganathan and with signixcant support from temporary staff. Over the past three decades, Dr. Mahesan has selflessly and tirelessly shared his knowledge with hundreds of graduates from the Department of Computer Science, who remain indebted to his dedicated mentorship.
As Dr. Mahesan embarks on this new chapter in life, the DCS family extends their best wishes, hoping it is a journey xlled with happiness, good health, and the realisation of his dreams. We anticipate that you will continue to journey alongside the DCS community in all its upcoming endeavours.