The GTS, established in 1893 at Maradana, Colombo was the first institution for formal technical education in Sri Lanka (other than for the Ceylon Medical School established in 1870). It became the pioneering institution for science education in Sri Lanka and its name was changed to the Ceylon Technical College (CTC) in 1906. The CTC provided technical education in Civil, Electrical and Mechanical Engineering fields even before the establishment of the University College Colombo, affiliated to the University of London, in 1921.
In January 1933, CTC was reorganised and thereafter, prepared candidates for the external degrees in Engineering of the University of London and for the Associate Membership Examinations of the three major professional institutions (Civil, Electrical and Mechanical) in England. A Junior Technical Officers (JTO) course was also inaugurated at the CTC in the late 1940's.
Beginning of technical education at Katubedda took place in 1960 when the technician courses at the CTC were transferred to a new establishment called the Institute of Practical Technology (IPT) constructed on a fifty-acre block of land at the present premises of the University as a gift from the people of Canada with the primary aim of providing full-time JTO courses for technicians of sub-professional grades. In addition, the IPT offered part-time courses in engineering studies for those employed in the government and private sector.
In 1961, the Government of Ceylon (GoC) realised that an effective system of specialised education and training, capable of supplying the country with the necessary scientific and technical personnel, was a pre-requisite to achieve and sustain rapid development. The GoC, therefore, appointed a Commission of Inquiry on Technical Education. As engineering education at professional level was provided exclusively by the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Ceylon at that time, the Commission in its report of 1963 recommended the expansion of facilities for professional engineering education at Katubedda.
The Ceylon College of Technology (CCT) was thus established at Katubedda in 1966 which offered a practically oriented engineering diploma (Diploma in Technology, abbreviated to DipTech) equivalent to a degree which was developed and offered with the technical assistance of UNESCO. The CCT commenced with specialisations in Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, initially utilising the physical facilities available at the IPT. The IPT continued in the same premises with its full-time courses, but was amalgamated with the CCT in 1967 and the JTO course was restructured and named as the Technician's course.
At the commencement of the third year of the DipTech programme, the Electrical Engineering stream was bifurcated to Electrical Engineering and Electronic & Telecommunication Engineering specialisations. The Department of Electronic & Telecommunication Engineering was thus formally established in 1969.
Beginnings as a University
The CCT at Katubedda first earned University status, as the Katubedda Campus of the single University of Ceylon, on 15th February 1972. The Department of Architecture, then at Colombo, was transferred to Katubedda in the formation of this new Campus. The Katubedda Campus thus began with one faculty, that of Engineering and Architecture. The first President of the Campus was Dr.L.H.Sumanadasa who steered the progress of the Institution, was in fact the Principal of the IPT before it became the Katubedda Campus. When Ceylon became a Republic on 22nd May 1972, the corporate name of the single University was changed to the University of Sri Lanka. Consequently, the DipTech programme was upgraded to the BSc Engineering degree and all students from the first intake of DipTech became eligible for the degree. Further, the name of the Technicians course was changed to the National Diploma in Technology.
Developments at the Katubedda Campus
With the gaining of University status, the technical education programmes conducted at Katubedda Campus were expanded. The Department of Town & Country Planning was established within the Faculty of Engineering & Architecture in 1973. To house the new equipment obtained with the UNESCO aid and to cater to the growing needs of the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, a new building was built, which is still the largest building at the University, currently designated as Sumanada Building to honour Dr. L.H. Sumanadasa’s pioneering contribution to education at Katubedda.
Further, in 1974, with the formation of a link-programme between the UoM and the University of Leeds in the UK, the School of Applied Science was instituted. Under this school, the Departments of Chemical Engineering, Material Science and Mining & Minerals Engineering were established. In 1975, a Computer Centre with a modest computer IBM 1130 was established within the Department of Electrical Engineering to serve the entire University. Furthermore, with the developments in Engineering Education at Katubedda, the first post-graduate programme commenced in the Department of Civil Engineering in 1976.
Further changes in the corporate structure and composition of tertiary education were effected by the Universities Act No. 16 of 1978. Under the provisions of Section 139(1) of this Act, the Katubedda Campus of the University of Sri Lanka acquired the status of an independent University with its present corporate name 'The University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka', with three Faculties of study, namely the Faculty of Engineering, the Faculty of Architecture and the Faculty of Physical and Applied Sciences.
In 1981, the Faculty of Physical and Applied Sciences was amalgamated with the Faculty of Engineering, and consequently the name of the Department of Materials Science was changed to the Department of Materials Engineering.
As all the courses of study at Moratuwa were offered in the English medium, the University established a Department of Languages and Social Studies in 1977 to assist students enhance their language skills. After a few structural changes, a separate unit, namely the English Language Teaching Centre (ELTC) was set up in December 1983 to cater for this need.
In 1983, the Department of Building Economics was added to the Faculty of Architecture and the Undergraduate programme leading to BSc in Quantity Surveying (Honours) degree commenced in 1985. In the same year, the Department of Civil Engineering was shifted to its own building complex at a site bordering the North-Eastern boundary of the University, fringed by the Bolgoda Lake.
Department of Textile Technology came into being as a fully fledged Department in 1985, with the launch of the BSc Engineering Degree Programme and the Department was shifted to its own fully equipped building in 1988. The Department of Computer Science & Engineering was established in 1985 in the Faculty of Engineering incorporating the Computer Centre already existed, and the first batch of students to follow the BSc Engineering Honours degree in Computer Science and Engineering was enrolled in 1986.
In the 1990s, student accommodation and hostel facilities received the attention of the administration. New hostels were constructed and extensions to existing ones were done during the period 1991-1995. A girls’ hostel was instituted in 1991. The university library which was scattered in different buildings with difficulties to cater to the increased intake of students was relocated in its spacious new building with enhanced facilities in 1995.
With further development, the Department of Management of Technology was established in 1998 in the Faculty of Engineering in response to a national need for the discipline of technology management. In 1998, the name of the Chemical Engineering Department was changed to Department of Chemical and Process Engineering to reflect the broader area of application of the field.
With the implementation of the Science and Technology Personnel Development Project funded by the Asian Development Bank in October 1998, all departments in the Faculty of Engineering commenced or recommenced Masters degree programmes by instruction and by research. The first PhD from the Faculty of Engineering was completed in May 1999. These developments in research could be considered as a major turning point for Moratuwa University to be considered as a ‘fully-fledged’ University.
In order to keep abreast with the development of engineering education, the course curriculum of the Faculty of Engineering was revised with industry consultation and converted to semester system from sessional examination system. The Engineering II stream (which consisted of a separate entry to Chemical Engineering, Materials Engineering and Mining & Mineral Engineering) was eliminated and students were instead taken to the University under the common “Engineering” category.
Arising of a perceived need to separate technical education at lower than degree level from the main university, the Institute of Technology University of Moratuwa (ITUM) was established with effect from 10th March 2000 to conduct the National Diploma in Technology course separately from the Faculty of Engineering, with the Ordinance for the same having been gazetted in August 2000.
The Career Guidance Unit (CGU) of UoM was established in year 2000 exclusively to provide career guidance services to the students. The Career Guidance Unit now conducts a series of professional and personality development projects every year in collaboration with the University administration, academic departments and the Rotaract Club with the sole intention of improving the soft skills and employability of the students passing out from the University.
In July 2000, the name of the Department of Mining and Mineral Engineering was changed to the Department of Earth Resources Engineering to reflect the changes in their scope. During the same time the ‘Engineering Design Centre’ was set up in the Faculty of Engineering to complement design related education of undergraduates and to provide outreach services to the industry by undertaking projects involving engineering design, design modification, design & manufactures with emphasis on Electronics.
With the rapid expansion of Information Technology Industry, the country strongly felt the need to increase the production of qualified IT professionals by the higher educational institutions. The Faculty of Information Technology, the first ever faculty of this kind in the state university system, was thus established in June 2001 as the third faculty in the UoM with its first intake of 50 students in January 2002.
In 2001, Bachelor of Design was launched by the Department of Architecture while in November 2001, the Bachelor of Design in Fashion Design and Product Development course, conducted by the Department of Textile and Clothing Technology, was launched with technical assistance from the London College of Fashion of the University for the ARTs, London, to cater for a national need to create a value added apparel industry. The name of the Department of Textile Technology was subsequently changed to Textile and Clothing Technology to emphasise the equal importance given to clothing studies at the UoM.
The Department of Management of Technology moved to its new building in December 2001. The first MBA programme of the UoM, in the specialisation of Management of Technology, was inaugurated in November 2001. The next MBA in Information Technology commenced in November 2002 followed by MBA in Infrastructure in 2003 and MBA in Project Management in 2004. In April 2003, the Department of Electronic & Telecommunications Engineering moved to its new modern building from the earlier location in the Sumanadasa building.
The Department of Town & Country Planning which had been conducting only postgraduate studies in Town & Country Planning until year 2003 commenced its Honours Degree course in BSc in Town & Country Planning in 2003. All the undergraduate degree programs at the Faculty of Architecture are accredited by the local professional bodies as well as by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), of the UK.
The latest addition to the Faculty of Engineering was the Department of Transport & Logistics Management in September 2005 as a national need with strong support from the Transport and Logistics industry. The Department now offers BSc in Transport & Logistics Management degree with an annual intake of 50 students.
The Department of Building Economics launched its second undergraduate programme in September 2005 leading to BSc in Facilities Management degree. Both the undergraduate degree programmes conducted by the Department of Building Economics leading to BSc in Quantity Surveying and BSc in Facilities Management are accredited by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, UK.
In June 2009 the name of the Department of Materials Engineering was changed to Department of Materials Science and Engineering to reflect the importance of science in materials engineering. With further increase in student intake the University physical facilities were enhanced and a new Chemical Engineering building was opened in 2009, and a new Mechanical Engineering building was opened in April 2010.
The Faculty of Information Technology launched its second undergraduate programme in June 2010 leading to BSc in Information Technology and Management degree.
The UoM is undisputedly the best University in Sri Lanka today. A global ranking of Universities in 2009 has ranked the UoM as the best University in Sri Lanka and the eleventh best University in the South Asian region. The short term mission of the UoM is to “produce world class graduates in technological fields – who can gain admission easily to any postgraduate program of a reputed world class University and perform as well as any graduate from an internationally reputed world class University - in an environment that provides a rewarding experience for our students and staff, and thereby become nationally relevant and internationally recognised”. Hence, the goal of the UoM is to produce academically sound, self confident, flexible, highly employable internationally recognized quality graduates who can “hit the ground running” from day one, and to train our students to become “job creators” and not necessarily “job seekers” when they graduate.
The year 2009 was a significant one for the UoM in terms of achievements of its staff and students in many important niche areas worldwide. The University admitted 1189 new undergraduates in August 2009 and thereby, the undergraduate population rose to 5452 students, an increase of over 137% since 2000. A 45% increase of the annual intake by the year 2009 from 2005, to meet the increasing demand for our degree programs in technological disciplines by students and their parents, is significant and noteworthy.
Despite increasing the annual intakes with the limited facilities available, the UoM is proud that it has improved relevance and quality of all of its graduates. A tracer survey done in 2009 on employment patterns of graduates, reported that 95% of all graduates and 99% of the engineering graduates were employed within three (03) months after their final examination, showing that despite the recent economic downturn, the graduates of the UoM are much sought after by the industry and its employers. In 2009, 831 (91%) of 931 students, who sat the final examinations graduated within the minimum stipulated time period for the first degree. The number of degrees awarded at the General Convocation in 2009 was 1104 of which 771 were Bachelors degrees and 333 postgraduate (Ph.D, M.Phil, M.Eng, M.Sc, MBA) degrees and diplomas.
We proudly report that a team of senior staff members from UoM designed and supervised the MAS Intimates “Thurulie” Factory at Thulhiriya, Sri Lanka which was classified by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) as the first ‘new-built’ factory in the world to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum status. The “Thurulie” Factory sits in elite company of less than 150 Green buildings in the world, which possess LEED Platinum ratings for new construction. The technical team from the UoM who helped to create Thurulie Factory has developed new methods that would be the basis for USGBC to accredit future green buildings with similar approaches.
At the Google Summer of Code (GSoC) for Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) development, one of the most recognised global competitions to measure talent, creativity and performance of students, the UoM was ranked as the Top University Worldwide in terms of the number of awards received by students for the five year period from its inception in 2005. The UoM won the highest number of awards at each of the annual competitions held in 2007, 2008 and 2009.
A student team from the University emerged victorious among 721 teams from more than 40 countries that competed in the IEEEXtreme 2009 global competition. IEEEXtream organized by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) of the USA is considered to be the world’s most extreme programming competition. It is a global 24-hour online contest where student teams of three representing student branches of IEEE around the world solve a challenging set of programming problems posed by the IEEE. This is the first time that a country from the Asia-Pacific IEEE has won this global competition.
A student team from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, UoM and partnering students from TU Munchen, Garching, Germany was one of the eight teams selected for the Gold at the UNESCO Mondialogo Engineering Award 2009. The Mondialogo Engineering Award invites engineering students in developing and developed countries to form local groups and international teams to work together to develop project proposals that address the United Nations Millennium Development Goals – proposals to improve the quality of life in the developing world. Student teams from 94 countries registered a total of 932 project ideas creating a record number of entries for the Mondialogo Engineering Award in 2009.
The two student teams from the UoM won both the robot competitions (Anthropod and Micromouse) they entered, out of the six competitions at the world renowned 12th Annual International Science and Technology Festival held at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay under the “techtronics” category in 2008. These achievements have made the world sit-up take notice of the UoM for its education in engineering, computing and information technology.
A student team from UoM was placed global runners-up at the Global Business Challenge 2009 organised by the Chartered Institute for Management Accountants (CIMA), UK. We are extremely proud of this achievement as it is despite the UoM not having a degree program in Accounting.
A packaging design titled ‘Fruit Flavoured Tea Wallet’ by a student from the Design degree program at the Faculty of Architecture was placed First in the World at the World Student Star Packaging Awards in 2007 organised by the World Packaging Organization. Three other student designs were also recognised as World Star awards with Honourable Mention at the 2007 ceremony held in Istanbul, Turkey in 2008. Design degree students have participated at the World Student Star competition from year 2005. In the 2006 competition, student designs won 5 World Star awards with one student design being recognized at the Second Place in the World and three recognized as Honourable Mention awards. At the 2005 World Student Star competition student designs received 5 World Star awards.
In addition, student teams from the UoM won the local and regional competitions at the World Student Star Packaging 2009 organised by the World Packaging Organisation by Design degree students, Certified Financial Analyst (CFA) competition conducted by the local chapter of CFA of the USA, as well as the Global Business Challenge.