Global knowledge for the future - Virtusa Campus Reach

Global knowledge for the future - Virtusa Campus Reach

August 22, 2010   01:45 pm

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By Aravinda Dassanayake Senior Engineer-Technology, Virtusa Corporation


The Reach


Virtusa’s Campus Reach Program is a strategic sustainability initiative designed to increase the quality and quantity of IT graduates produced through Sri Lanka’s higher education system. The Campus Reach Initiative in addition creates remarkable opportunities for students to display and grow their leadership and other skills as well as become an integral part of Virtusa’s values. With the mission “to be the model corporate contributor to academia on growth of future generations of IT professionals by sharing world-class industry expertise whilst creating new opportunities for innovation”, the Campus Reach Program has matured efficiently since its foundation in 2006 with a total of 800 interns benefiting from it.


Uniqueness – the knowledge economy

Campus Reach has transformed into a unique sustainability initiative purely because the focus of the program is on sharing knowledge and providing opportunity for the foundation for excelling in one’s career. This approach is helpful to all stakeholders. Specially, since more than measurable assets, intelligence and knowledge play a key role in the highly dynamic IT industry and knowledge economy.


The programme

Virtusa Campus Reach contributes to the IT industry primarily along three avenues: ‘Student Mentoring’, ‘Internships and Career Guidance’, and ‘Academic Enablement’.


Student mentoring - the essential

The fundamental avenue of the program consists of diverse forms of ‘Student Mentoring’. Visiting lectures provide insight in to cutting edge technologies and the latest standards and trends in the industry covering a wide variety of subjects like Software Architecture, Software Quality Assurance, Requirement Engineering, CMMI and ISO Standards and Project Management. While visiting lectures address a broader scope of the IT domain, TechTALKs and seminars are conducted from time to time to spur the enthusiasm of students regarding more focused technical aspects such as design patterns, game development, Web Services and programming languages. TechTALKs touch on non-technical facets like leadership and team building, public speaking, market segmenting, targeting and positioning. The workshops grant hands-on experience on industry standards and concepts. The program continues to maintain the bond with the students in to their final year by guiding them to relevant project ideas and providing supervision.


Prof. Lalith Gamage Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT) commented “Virtusa and SLIIT have a strong long standing relationship which goes back many years. Virtusa’s commitment to society and their contribution to the Sri Lankan economy as a leading player in the IT industry is outstanding. With global exposure in many countries around the world, Virtusans get actively engaged with SLIIT in providing curriculum reviews, program development, lecturing, collaborative research, student mentoring, scholarships, internships and partnering in many other initiatives.  Many SLIIT students choose Virtusa as an employer of choice for unparalleled global career opportunities in IT and business. We highly value our partnership with Virtusa”.


Internships and career guidance – connect with IT thought leaders consulting to Fortune 1000 companies in the world

Internships and career guidance was inspired with the intention of adding more value to the respective initiatives taken by universities and governing bodies to empower students. The Campus Reach Program assures interns are exposed to a highly interesting industry through global experience.


Vindya Cumaratunga, Manager-Shared Services and an Executive Committee member of the Campus Reach initiative says, “The Virtusa internship program is a corporate initiative and is one of the main objectives we focus on under our Campus Reach Initiative. We provide opportunity to government universities as well as private IT professional institutes.  One of the top achievements that we have today is that the best of the breed in leading universities and other IT professional institutes in the country is look forward to our Internship”. According to her, currently, the program is looking at improving the business knowledge of interns by giving focus to business consulting, taking it a step further from traditional internship programs, which predominantly focused on Software engineering and testing services, process and quality.


Mr. Chandra Embuldeniya Vice Chancellor Uva Wellassa University of Sri Lanka said, “I commend their outstanding role in the economy not only because of their grand business success but also because they are among the top most socially responsible corporations in Sri Lanka providing opportunities to develop IT skills among the underprivileged students throughout the country. Personally, Virtusa’s social commitment to the Uva Province has impressed me the most. Sharing prosperity gained through resounding business success with the less privileged members of the society is an example set by Virtusa besides being a flagship contributor to Sri Lanka’s prosperity”.


Placement Engineer Scholarship Program – a part of the internships and career guidance

A selected set of students who have completed the first two years in their degree programs gain opportunity to be a part of Virtusa while studying up to the point of their graduation. This converts into an educative environment for the students assuring graduation from a university with professional experience from a reputed IT services organization.


Mrs. Vishaka Nanayakkara, Head of Department - Computer Science and Engineering, University of Moratuwa Sri Lanka stated, “CSE´s interaction with Virtusa goes all the way to its inception. Throughout CSE has received lot of support from Virtusa. Visiting lecturers and collaboration in conducting courses, student mentoring and career guidance, expert advice whenever necessary, training for faculty in Virtusa´s specialized training programs are some forms of this support. Today when I see "CSE faces" among all ranks at Virtusa, I am certain that many CSE students have decided that Virtusa is the place for them to work. I am very happy and proud about our association with Virtusa throughout”.


 ‘Academic Enablement’ - Virtusa Academic Teaching Fellowship Programme

This is about escalating the program by an additional level focusing more on the academic professionals and curricula. The program provides opportunities to teaching professionals in academia to experience and grasp live project knowledge. The program also plays an important curriculum advisory role providing review and direction to curricula and potential courseware of diverse IT related courses.


According to Chinthaka Indikadahena, Senior Manager-QA, the program has spread to academic institutions like the Faculty of IT of University of Moratuwa, Open University of Sri Lanka, University of Colombo School of Computing and SLIIT. One major activity his team is involved in is the completion of the QA course curriculum of the Open University starting this year. “We have completed the QA lectures for the Masters Degrees at SLIIT. The University of Colombo MSc Advanced Software Engineering Course was entirely handled by Virtusa in 2007, amounting to over 30 actual lecturing hours. Looking at some statistics, the total reach for the first two quarters of the fiscal year 2009 has been 2705, having 86 volunteers working in 31 programmes. This is a significant improvement when compared with the total reach in the previous fiscal year - 2008 - which was 1993 with 97 volunteers working on 33 programmes” he concluded.


Conclusion

The Campus Reach Program has evolved in to a sustainable venture which benefits all of its stakeholders of which the students gain a larger proportion of the benefits, primarily polishing technical skills resulting in confidence. The knowledge and skills students acquire provides better recognition and career advancement prospects while obtaining additional credit towards higher education. As a participant of the program, the student would be able to embrace the concept of Campus Reach and take steps to give back to the university, school and society. From the point of view of the academic institutions, the Campus Reach Program increases the teaching bandwidth while bringing in industry experience and practicality to teaching material. Furthermore, the program strengthens the ties between the institutions and Virtusa. This creates a positive impact on the industry by helping to produce a pool of well rounded IT professionals, increasing the opportunity for industrial growth.


The Virtusa Campus Reach Program is ideal for the improvement of Sri Lanka’s IT academia and industry which is a boost towards the knowledge economy. 
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