In Memory of Our Beloved Teacher Professor Selvadurai Mahalingam – Rest in Peace Sir
Posted on November 13th, 2015

Nimal Jayaratne

Engineering community of the world has lost a role model. It is hard to comprehend that a person of Professor Selvadurai Mahalingam’s quality ever walked on this planet. In order to come to terms with the grief of his passing away I thought I would pen down my thoughts on this great person.

My first impressions of Professor Mahalingam were his graceful and upright walk along the engineering faculty corridors in December 1970 during our first year. Sometimes he visited our engineering drawing classes for a quick walk through. Apart from that there was no other interaction with him in the first year. Before long I began to learn the credentials of this great person.

Professor Mahalingam was born in Jaffna on 16 January 1926 and at a very young age he moved to Malaya (present day Malaysia) with his parents. He had his primary and secondary education at Maxwell College and later at Victoria College of Kuala Lampur, Malaya. At the age of 20 (1946) Professor Mahalingam returned to Sri Lanka and joined the Technical College, Colombo for his tertiary studies which lead to his first engineering degree. In 1950 the Colombo Engineering Faculty was opened where Prof. Mahalingam joined as a lecturer. Later he was awarded a research opportunity at Sheffield University through which he obtained his PhD in 1956. He continued his research work in the UK for a few more years and then he returned to Sri Lanka to continue as a lecturer at the Faculty of Engineering, Colombo. While serving as a lecturer he continued his research work on mechanical vibrations and published many papers. Among his many research publications ‘Forced Vibration of Systems with Nonlinear, Non-symmetrical Characteristics (Journal of Applied Mechanics, 1957)’ and ‘An Improvement of the Holzer Method (ASME, 1958)’ were considered ground breaking. In the 1960s London University awarded the highly prestigious accolade Doctor of Science (DSc) to professor Mahalingam for his pioneering work on vibrations. Prof. Mahalingam was the only Sri Lankan engineer to have obtained a Doctor of Science accolade until that time.

One of Professor Mahalingam’s important achievements was the resolution of torsional vibration problems of the Rolls Royce MK 101 turbo-jet engines that powered the Avro Vulcan Royal Airforce (RAF) aircraft. This finding was so significant to Avro aircraft manufacturing company (and to the RAF) that he was asked to name virtually anything as a token of appreciation for his contribution to the development of the engine. The aircraft company would have expected Professor Mahalingam to request something like a top of the range Rolls Royce car or similar but Professor Mahalingam opted for a cut away section of a Rolls Royce Mk II turbo jet engine so that the students of the Faculty of Engineering, Peradeniya could use it to study and understand the interior mechanics of a turbo-jet engine. The sectioned Rolls Royce MK II jet engine still stands at the entrance foyer of the Faculty of Engineering. This gesture alone epitomises the noble values that Professor Mahalingam stood for.

A few glimpses of Professor Mahalingam in our first year and the stories about his accolades prepared us for the rich wonder world of Mechanics of Machines in the following year. We all eagerly waited for our Mechanics of Machines lectures and we were never disappointed. The punctuality of his arrival at the lecture theatre, his neat and tidy appearance, his stature, the clarity and the tone of his speech, his handwriting on the board, his drawing of the circle on the board with the wooden compass, illustration of the notes with different colour crayons were hallmarks of a great learning experience for us. Listening to his lectures was a pleasure and his lecture notes were so complete and needed no additional referencing or motivation to understand. He expected the students to be disciplined just like himself and no one dared to enter his lecture room a minute late. He once turned away a lady student arriving at the lecture a few minute late saying: ‘This is not a holiday camp’!

We cherished every moment of interaction with the teacher. Narration of his experience in the UK while researching into the failure of the rotor shaft of R-R Mk 101 turbo engines and the revelation that the torsional – gyroscopic forces were to be blamed for the failure, was his introduction to the topic of Torsional Vibrations.

Third year was special that Professor Mahalingam introduced us to the Theory of Vibrations and the matrix methods of computing solutions to vibration problems. What I learnt 41 years ago from Professor Mahalingam is still current today and applies equally well in engineering. One such example is the solution to the Eigen value problem in order to find the natural frequencies of an elastic structure. Professor Mahalingam demonstrated that the Eigen vectors of an elastic system would form the bases of vibration analysis and predicted that matrix methods of analysis would become common currency in future with the improving computational power.

Those who opted for the elective subject of Mechanics of Machines in the final year were treated to an integration of Strength of Materials and Theory of Elasticity, Mechanics of Machines and Theories of Mechanical Vibrations.

Several occasions I visited him at the Faculty of Engineering I made it a point to let him know how we were using his teachings to great advantage even after more than ten years of been introduced. I could see the sparkle in his eyes. I am glad that Professor Mahalingam lived long enough to experience his predictions coming true and to witness his techniques being used all over the world to resolve vibration related issues.

Out of the many countries that benefitted from Professor Mahalingam’s theories and techniques, New Zealand was one of the first countries to adopt them in structural design. New Zealand needed these techniques to design earthquake resistant structures in the high seismic activity region as a priority.

After completing my four year course I had the opportunity to serve the faculty as an Assistant Lecturer until I found regular employment in industry. That appointment was to assist Professor Mahalingam with his laboratory, tutorial and drawing office work and I had one of the most enjoyable times of my life. Working closely with Professor Mahalingam I was able to appreciate the foresight and love he had for his work as an academic, a teacher and a mentor. After a few years in industry I visited the Professor to request him to be my sponsor for the IMechE membership, which he gladly agreed to.

I have been an enthusiastic user of the knowledge Professor Mahalingam imparted on me 40 years ago and I still appreciate and enjoy them. Professor Mahalingam’s influence on me probably would have been a reason that I took on static and dynamic stress analysis seriously early in my career. Many times when I performed a modal analysis as part of dynamic analysis, I often remembered the days I was taught by Professor Mahalingam and think of this great teacher with admiration and respect. I am sure many others will be able relate their achievements in life to Professor Mahalingam’s inspiration.

Reading his obituary notice revealed to me that most of his relatives lived in the UK and Canada, and Professor Mahalingam could have easily settled himself in either of the two countries and enjoyed a comfortable life. His choice to live among his fellow countrymen even through the most treacherous times the country had seen, until his death, is a sacrifice only the greatest of human beings can make.

Professor Mahalingam was a brilliant academic, a true gentleman and an inspirational teacher. Above all he was a champion of simplicity and selflessness.

By Nimal Jayaratne

15 Responses to “In Memory of Our Beloved Teacher Professor Selvadurai Mahalingam – Rest in Peace Sir”

  1. SA Kumar Says:

    Good old days !!!

  2. Independent Says:

    I would like to see our fellow “Tamil” engineers write something like this. I am not from Peradeniya University. May be they didn’t like him because of impartiality ( opposite of Tamil racism).

  3. helaya Says:

    Nimal, Even though I am not a engineering students I have seen this jet engine at E faculty. I have heard great stories about this great man. He will be remembered forever.

  4. nilwala Says:

    A beautiful tribute to an exceptionally great teacher by an appreciative pupil!
    Yes indeed….those days are gone, never to return.

  5. cassandra Says:

    NJ,

    I have absolutely no idea who the gentleman you have so admiringly written about was but it is clear from your account that he was a very special person.

    It is good to read of the great attributes of the late Professor Mahalingam. For me, no less heart warming is to see that you have seen fit to pay this public tribute to him. Gratitude is a virtue to be much admired.

  6. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    Another Tribute:

    Prof. S. Mahalingam: A gentle colossus Appreciation

    – by Newton Wickramasuriya

    It was with deep sorrow that I was looking at the serene man now lying peacefully in a coffin. He was a colossus among the academics and he walked along the corridors of the sprawling Faculty of Engineering, University of Peradeniya with a characteristic and purposeful stride that inspired confidence in everybody who came across him.

    Emeritus Professor S. Mahalingam passed away in Alakollai, Alaveddy in Jaffna on 3rd November 2015, at the age of 89, far away from his beloved Peradeniya and Kandy. He would have been 90 on 16 January 2016. Unfortunately it was not to be so.

    A wave of spontaneous sorrow and grief struck hundreds of engineers here and abroad for whom he was their mentor, teacher and guide. Born on 16th January 1926 in Jaffna, he was the eldest in a family of eight. He later moved to Malaya along with his family and had his primary and secondary education at Maxwell School and Victoria College in Kuala Lumpur. Selvadurai Mahalingam left Malaya in 1946 to follow a degree course in engineering at the then Ceylon Technical College in Colombo. Ironically, according to him, Ceylonese parents in Malaya at that time wanted their children to be educated in Ceylon as there were better educational facilities and colleges teaching professional courses. Now the reverse is taking place!

    He qualified as a Civil Engineer in 1950, having obtained a B.Sc. Eng. First class honours degree from the University of London as an external candidate. He was placed first among the candidates from Ceylon. He joined the newly established Faculty of Engineering, University of Ceylon, in 1952, as an Assistant Lecturer. It was the late Professor E. O. E. Pereira who was then the Dean, that persuaded him to switch over to Mechanical Engineering. Consequently, he proceeded to University of Sheffield for his PhD and completed it in 1956, specializing in torsional vibration. He returned to the University of Ceylon in the same year and was promoted to a Lecturer’s position. He published extensively, in reputed refereed journals, on topics related to his field of expertise. In recognition of his contribution, he was awarded the Doctor of Science in Engineering (DSc Eng) by the University of London. He was the first Sri Lankan Engineer to get this prestigious award. Dr. Mahalingam became the Professor of Mechanical Engineering in 1970 and retired in 1991. Grateful students organized a felicitation ceremony, the first of its kind in the history of the Engineering Faculty, to a packed house at the E.O.E. Pereira theatre. One incident that still lingers in the minds of the Engineers, who were present that day, was how the late Dr. B M A Balasuriya, after making his speech, said that he wanted to show his respect to his teacher and went on his knees before Professor Mahalingam, touched his feet and worshipped him. It was an unforgettable moment and practically everybody present was in tears. Needless to say, that the others also followed suit.

    Simply dressed but elegant, his attire never changed its design, cottons being his favorite, the short sleeve shirt always over the trouser. His relatives had made sure to keep to this tradition even in his death, and not the usually seen lounge suit under similar situations.

    Professor Mahalingam married Devaki who predeceased him in 2014. She was a tower of strength to him and we could see how he was devastated after her death. An embodiment of simplicity and purpose, he was a man with a mission. Students’ welfare and teaching were more important to him than personal benefits and comforts. Material benefits were not a priority for him. A highly recognized academic with an international reputation, but greener pastures were not in his agenda although there were several overtures. During the disastrous 1983 riots, his wife and he were compelled to move next door, to the Hilda Obeysekera Hall, for security. This was an unforgettable but a very sad situation for them. When I rushed there, with my wife, to look into their welfare at that time, he narrated the sorry state of affairs at the Hilda Obeysekera Hall and how he had to join a queue with others to use the wash room and toilets which brought tears to our eyes. But still, the greener pastures were not for him. Many are unaware how grateful we should be to have had him amidst us through all these upheavals.

    When the country was experiencing the pangs of a closed economy, in the sixties and early seventies, where everything was in short supply, Professor Mahalingam embarked on a unique journey. That was to develop the Applied Mechanics Laboratory from scratch, which is a standing monument to his commitment. Now, named after him, it stands as a showpiece that attracts large crowds on every public occasion. The very unpretentious person he was, when the senior Engineers requested the Dean to name the laboratory after him, on the day of the felicitation ceremony, he flatly refused and said such things should not be done when the person was still serving in an institution. Such were his principles and discipline that he practiced by word and deed.

    Although he looked very stern and hard, those who were close to him knew how compassionate and witty he was. I think the exterior was due to the self-discipline he maintained. Many a time he confessed that he could not understand why students did not come to him and asked for advise regarding the subject matter. As he was a strict disciplinarian, and especially on course work, deadlines were kept without extensions, and students feared and respected his instructions.

    Inspite of this, Professor Mahalingam was a jovial person full of humor amongst friends. He was full of anecdotes and jokes, and had the ability to relate even the simplest, much heard of, stories with a unique style of delivery and well timed punch line to raise laughter. He also had the ability to narrate even the jokes bordering on adult content with a dead pan face.

    I particularly remember an incident, in my final year, at the drawing office. I felt somebody standing behind me. When I looked up it was Professor Mahalingam and I was so nervous I just stopped whatever I was doing. He, with his characteristic delivery, said “It’s good to read outside the subject. Professor Tuplin is a friend of mine. His views are well known but not shared by many”. He then walked away abruptly and I was stunned. He, of course, was referring to a coursework I had submitted on Holzer analysis of torsional vibration. Professor Tuplin, also, was an expert on vibration but did not favour Holzer’s analysis, and I also criticized and mentioned this in my discussion in the coursework. It so happened that I had read about this in a book in the library. Naturally, I expected the worst and a request for a resubmission but, he had written ‘good’ to my utter surprise.

    Of course, at that time I did not know that Professor Mahalingam was closely associated with Holzer analysis and in fact had modified the prevailing theory. Professor S. Mahalingam’s name is quoted in the well known text book, ‘Mechanics of Vibration’ by Professors R. E. D. Bishop and R. C. Johnson, in recognition of his modification to the Holzer analysis. Incidentally, both of these were friends of the Professor and he co-authored several papers on vibrations with Professor R. E. D. Bishop.

    Professor Mahalingam shunned publicity, did not accept positions, accolades or titles for which he maintained he was not qualified. When the University of Peradeniya offered to confer D.Sc. (Honoris Causa), he politely refused and said he had one earned doctorate and that was enough.

    He was very good at motivating people. Long before I read Schumacher’s “In Search of Excellence”, it was Professor Mahalingam who taught me the importance of appreciating the work of subordinates whatever the rank may be. When we were fabricating equipment for demonstration as well as for qualitative analysis, once the product was completed, he used to make a bee line to the work shop and bring the technicians who assisted in fabricating, and demonstrated the device to them first. The staff highly appreciated this indeed and went out of their way to finish work assigned to them and their unstinted cooperation was always readily available.

    Many myths are generally woven around great men, these may be an indication of their greatness. Isaac Newton and Einstein had theories attributed to them which had very little to do with them. Professor Mahalingam was not an exception. There were many stories about how he had solved vibration problems in Rolls Royce gas turbines. One such story being circulated even now, after his death, is how he had detected a defect in an Avro jet engine, and in lieu of compensation that he refused, Rolls Royce gifted a sectioned jet engine! I asked him about this, several years ago, and he laughed it off in his typical unassuming manner. He said, he just wrote to Rolls Royce explaining what he was doing at the Applied Mechanics laboratory and asked whether they had any discarded engines or equipment which could be used for teaching purposes. They responded by saying there was a sectioned jet engine, used for a training programme, which has no use for them now and they would be pleased to donate it to the Faculty provided the freight was arranged. University had agreed to bear the cost of freight, and this engine now proudly adorns the lobby of the Faculty of Engineering, Peradeniya. A fitting display for an Engineering Faculty!

    Professor Mahalingam firmly believed in a knowledge-based education with emphasis on practical application. This was the reason why he created this unique space, now known as Professor Mahalingam Laboratory, at the Faculty of Engineering, Peradeniya. This laboratory, then known as the Applied Mechanics Laboratory, is the main attraction to visitors to the Faculty, be it local or foreign. Perhaps, this home-made laboratory is the only kind in the world. Created with minimal cost, it is a veritable resource centre for all mechanical engineering students. It guides you through displays of sectioned engines to industrial applications of mechanical engineering with meticulously designed and fabricated products with superior finishes that conceal the scrap material used in them. It also demonstrates what can be achieved, with available resources, rather than waiting for foreign funds and advice.

    Applied Mechanics laboratory, at first, was housed within the Applied Thermodynamics laboratory. Very soon it became evident that the space was running out as new equipment and display units were being turned out almost every other week. If I remember right, it was in 1970 the need for a new building was conceptualized and Professor Mahalingam agreed to try out Dr Milton Amaratunge’s suggestion to use ‘no fine concrete’ for the non-load bearing walls to keep the cost down. However, he ran out of the meager funds provided by the university. Under similar situations the others normally give up but his determination was such that he used ‘petty cash’ in the department, to complete the building.

    He was a witty person too. Once in our final year, just outside the lecture room, somebody raised the engine of his two-stroke motor cycle, sans the silencer. With his characteristic staccato voice, he asked “who made that spectacular display of his horsepower?” He was not without critics. There were many who found fault with him for not initiating post graduate studies in his field of specialization. His answer to that was, he did not believe in half baked products. He bemoaned the fact that the University did not have sufficient funds to get down text books and journals of repute. “How can I produce post graduates under such circumstances”, he asked, quite rightly, too.

    He was the last of the pioneering academics that launched the first Faculty of Engineering in Sri Lanka.

    Professor Mahalingam was a teacher and gentleman par excellence worthy of emulation.

    by Newton Wickramasuriya
    Past President, Institution of Engineers Sri Lanka
    Past Chairman, The Ceylon National Chamber of Industries
    Corresponding Member, Institution of Mechanical Engineers (UK)
    Director/CEO, Central Industries PLC
    Chairman, Lanka Hydraulic Institute Ltd

  7. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    The Vidya Jyothi is a Sri Lankan national honour awarded “for outstanding scientific and technological achievements”. It is the highest national honour for science in Sri Lanka for outstanding contribution to the development of the country through dedicated work in the chosen field. Prof Mahalingam received the Vidya Jyothi honour in 2005

  8. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    The reverse brain drain

    By Prof. S. Mahalingam who came from Malaya to study and later teach engineering in Sri Lanka recalls the Peradeniya era

    Malaya in the days before its independence included Singapore, and was home to many English-educated Ceylonese who had found well-paid employment in a wide area of government service. Since there was no university education in the country until 1949, many “Malayan-Ceylonese” sent their sons to Colombo, or Britain if they had the means, for tertiary education. On completion of their studies, the young men faithfully returned to Malaya where good jobs were readily available.

    I was one of the exceptions to this general trend when, after graduating in Colombo with an External Degree of the University of London, I opted to join the staff of the University of Ceylon in 1950, at the inception of the Faculty of Engineering.

    Ceylon was indeed a very attractive place to live and work in at that time as it had been barely touched by the world war, and was totally free of the post-war political turmoil that engulfed most of the countries in South Asia and South East Asia. Development work in a new faculty would obviously give much job satisfaction, and we had a fine team of men to work with.

    Ceylonese parents in Malaya planning higher education for their children usually had in mind the Ceylon University College, the Ceylon Medical College and the Ceylon Law College. After the war the Ceylon Technical College was added to this list.

    When I left Malaya in 1946 to follow a degree course in engineering at the Ceylon Technical College (CTC), Colombo, there was no university in Malaya, nor were there any plans for one. A commission was appointed in 1947 to prepare proposals for a university in Malaya, and I believe Sir Ivor Jennings, our Vice Chancellor, was a member. The University of Ceylon, established in 1942, after its beginnings in 1921 as the Ceylon University College, was clearly a good model for a national university in a small, newly-emerging country. There was one big difference, however. The University of Ceylon had a 21-year period of preparation for university status, and during this period it had gathered a corps of experienced teachers, so that there were no transitional difficulties.

    University education arrived in Ceylon in 1921 in the form of a University College preparing students for some of the external degrees of the University of London. With steady expansion and diversification of its courses, the college soon became a well-recognised centre for external degrees. The official history of the University of London (1986) records that:

    “It was established before the war that a third of the external students (of the University of London) carried out their studies at teaching institutions in London, about a third at university colleges in the provinces, and about a third carried out their studies privately. About a tenth of them were resident overseas with Ceylon providing the largest proportion…”

    The plans for the creation of the University of Ceylon took a leap forward when a new principal was appointed to the University College in 1941. He was Dr. W.I. Jennings, a reader in the London School of Economics with a distinguished record of research, and several books to his credit. Due to his untiring efforts the Ceylon University Ordinance (No. 20 of 1942) was passed by the State Council, and the University of Ceylon was established on July 1,1942 by the amalgamation of the Ceylon University College and the Ceylon Medical College.

    Dr. Jennings became the first Vice-Chancellor. In addition to drafting the Ceylon University Ordinance he also prepared the Statutes, the Acts and the Regulations which collectively provide the legal infrastructure for university self-government. He undertook this demanding task as there was no one else in the country at that time with any knowledge or experience of university management.

    The University of Ceylon was established as a “unitary, residential and autonomous” corporation and it had a small, compact and efficient administration. At the inception there were four faculties- Arts, Oriental Studies, Science, and Medicine -and a total enrolment of 904 students. The fifth was the Faculty of Engineering.

    I joined the staff at the inception of the Faculty in July 1950. The Dean was Prof. E.O.E. Pereira, a much respected engineer, a man of integrity, vision and courage. He provided the Faculty’s leadership almost unbroken for nearly twenty years- the best years in the history of the Faculty. The country owes him a debt of gratitude for his outstanding services.

    During our golden years, before the decline set in, we produced some brilliant engineering graduates many of whom have had successful careers abroad.

    Some of them have risen to the highest positions in the profession and in academia in their adopted countries, and their success has been a source of pride to the Faculty.

    S. Mahalingam is an Emeritus Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Peradeniya.

  9. mario_perera Says:

    I wholeheartedly endorse the sentiments expressed by Cassandra

    How wonderful to see such an array of personalities rally round the memory of this intellectual, moral, and human colossus that was Professor Mahalingam. Seeing the spontaneous outburst of gratitude in his regard one becomes deeply aware of the sterility and utter insignificance of such considerations as race and religion which have obscured the vision of ourselves as a nation

    This is a man whose wisdom and humanity enriched the lives of all who came under his wings. These noble tributes are from those who drank the milk of human kindness which Professor Mahalingam lavished in abundance on them all.

    Professor Mahalingam the object of such adulation is a national treasure and supremely worthy of State honour.

    Mario Perera
    Kadawata

  10. Independent Says:

    I too have heard about this great man all from my Sinhala friends of the same profession.
    Not a word heard form Tamil friends whose number should be similar, knowing that majority entered those days were Tamil.

    I am afraid current Sri Lanka will probably not produce this type of straight people any more thanks to promotion of racism, hatred and totally meaningless hobby of hanging on to politicians even when they can see from their eye and hear from the ears that they are EVIL THIVES.
    It somewhat proves where the Elam racism started. It started by destroying the “Tamil Sri Lankan” identity. This evil movement got rid of peace loving patriots and created an evil force which promote “getting rid of people” who are obstacles or not agreeing to their brand of “patriotism”.
    They did not appreciated people who spoke truth. They wanted all Tamils to have the same voice “Heil Prabhakaran” and succeeded.

    All those Tamil greats have been eliminated. Where are we now ?

    Lucky he was in Jaffna and not harmed by LTTE. If he was in Kilinochchi

  11. SA Kumar Says:

    I am so happy to hear how you all were lived together happy in Mother Lanka !!!

    I hope & pray those days are not gone, will return soon for our future generation .

  12. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    අමිල දැනුම රටට දී හිස්අතින් අවසන්ගමන් ගිය මහැදුරු මහලිංගම්

    ලංකාවේ ඉංජිනේරු අධ්‍යාපනය මා දන්නා තරමින් ආරම්භයේ සිට දිගටම සිදුකෙරුණේ ඉංග්‍රීසි බසිනි. මෙය කවර අවදියක හෝ සිංහලෙන් හෝ දෙමළෙන් සිදුවූ බවක් මා දන්නේ නැත. සිංහලෙන් හෝ දෙමළෙන් වසර දොළහක පාසැල් අධ්‍යාපනය නිමකර සරසවියට ඇතුළු වන ඉංජිනේරු සිසුවකුට මෙසේ එක්වරම සිදුවන සංක්‍රාන්තිය සැලකිය යුතු අභියෝගයකි. මහා ලොකු ඉංග්‍රීසි දැනුමක් නොතිබුණත් සරසවියකට ඇතුළු වන විට රජයේ ඉංග්‍රීසි උපගුරුවරයෙකු ලෙස සේවය කරමින් සිටි මටද මේ සංක්‍රාන්තිය විශාල අභියෝගයක් වීනම්, හරියකට ඉංග්‍රීසි ගුරුවරයෙකු හෝ නොසිටි පාසැල් වලින් පැමිණි සිසුන් මුහුණ දුන් අභියෝගයේ තරම සිතාගැනීම අපහසු නැත.

    ඉහත තත්ත්වයට යම් විසඳුමක් ලෙස ඉංජිනේරු විද්‍යා දේශන ආරම්භ කිරීමට පෙර මාස කිහිපයක ඉංග්‍රීසි පුහුණුවක් සිදු කෙරුණේය. සරසවි දොරවල් ඇරී තිබෙනවාට වඩා වැසී තිබුණු, මා සරසවි පිවිසුම් ලබා සිටි සමයේ මේ පුහුණුවේ මුල් කොටස සරසවි වලින් පිටතදීත් දෙවන කොටස සරසවි තුළත් සිදු කෙරුණේය. මුල් කොටස සාමාන්‍ය ඉංග්‍රීසි පුහුණුවක් වූ අතර මෙය විවිධ විෂයයන් හදාරන සිසුන්ට පොදුවේ ඒ ඒ දිස්ත්‍රික්ක වලම පැවැත්වුණු අතර දෙවන කොටසින් ආවරණය කෙරුණේ ඉංජිනේරු විද්‍යා (හෝ පීඨය අනුව තමන් හැදෑරු වෙනත්) විෂයයන් ඉගෙනීමට අවශ්‍ය වන ඉංග්‍රීසි දැනුමයි.

    මේ ඉංග්‍රීසි පන්ති පැවැත්වුණේ කුඩා කණ්ඩායම් වශයෙනි. මේ අනුව, අපට මුලින්ම අඳුනා ගැනීමට ලැබුණු සරසවි සගයන් වූයේ තමන් ඇතුලත්ව සිටි ඉංග්‍රීසි පන්තියට සහභාගී වූ සිසුන්ය. එමෙන්ම, පේරාදෙණියේ අපේ කාණ්ඩයේ සිසුන්ගේ පළමු ගුරුවරයා වූයේ මෙසේ ඉංග්‍රීසි ඉගැන්වූ යම් අයෙකි. මගේ කණ්ඩායමට මෙසේ ඉංග්‍රීසි ඉගැන්වූ ගුරුවරිය මහාලිංගම් මහත්මියයි. ගුණවර්ධන මහත්මිය මෙවැනි තවත් ඉංග්‍රීසි ගුරුවරියක් විය.

    දිවා කාලයේදී ඉංග්‍රීසි පන්තියේ එකට සිටි බැචාලාව අඳුනා ගන්නා අතර රාත්‍රී කාලයේදී ශිෂ්‍ය නේවාසිකාගාරයේ නැවතී සිටි වෙනත් බැචාලාද හඳුනාගන්නට ලැබුණේ නවකවද අත්දැකීම්ද සමඟ කලවමේය. වලස්මුල්ල පැත්තෙන් පැමිණි අබරන් (සැබෑ කාඩ්එක නොවේ) ඇතුළු මගේම බැචාලා කිහිපදෙනෙකු මුල්සතියේම මට හඳුන්වා දුන්නේ ඒ ප්‍රදේශයෙන්ම පැමිණි ජේෂ්ඨ උත්තමයෙකි. ඉහත සඳහන් කළ මගේ බැචාලාට දිනපතා සවසට ඉංග්‍රීසි පන්තියක් පවත්වන ලෙස මේ ජේෂ්ඨ උත්තමයා මට නියෝග කළේ නවකවදයේ කොටසක් වශයෙන්ම නොව, එයින් ඉහත සිසුන්ට යම් පිටිවහලක් ලැබේයැයි අවංකවම අදහස් කරමින් විය යුතුය. කෙසේ වුවද, මේ හේතුවෙන් අබරන් මුල් කාලයේම මගේ මිතුරෙක් විය.

    ඉංග්‍රීසි දැනුම අතින් පිටුපසින් සිටියත් අබරන් නොදන්නා මගුලක් නැත. තුන්වන උත්සාහයෙන් සරසවි පැමිණ සිටි මට වඩා වසර කිහිපයක් වැඩිමලෙකු වූ ඔහුට භීෂණ සමයේ සිදුවීම් ගැනත්, කාන්තා පාර්ශ්වය සමඟ සිදු කළ ගණුදෙනු ගැනත් කියන්නට තිබුණු රසවත් කතා හිල්ඩා ශාලාවේ තෙවන මහලේ සඳළුතල-කොරිඩෝවේ ඈඳිගෙන, මැදියම් රැයද පසුවනතුරු කට ඇරගෙන අසා සිටීම කිසිසේත්ම වෙහෙසකර කටයුත්තක් නොවීය. ඔහුගේ ඇතැම් පාසැල් සගයින් ඉංජිනේරු පීඨයේ අපට වඩා ජ්‍යෙෂ්ඨ කණ්ඩායම් වල සිටි බැවින් පීඨය පිලිබඳ නොදන්නා බොහෝ දේ මා මුලින්ම දැනගත්තේ ඔහුගෙනි. මේ අනුව, අපේ ඉංග්‍රීසි ගුරුවරියන් වූ මහාලිංගම් මහත්මියගේත්, ගුණවර්ධන මහත්මියගේත් සැමියන් ඉංජිනේරු පීඨයේ මහාචාර්යවරුන් බවත්, ‘සිරා පොරවල්’ බවත් මා මුලින්ම දැනගත්තේ අබරන්ගෙනි.

    කාලය වේගයෙන් ගෙවී ගියේය. ඉංග්‍රීසි මධුසමය අවසන් වී ඉංජිනේරු විද්‍යා පාඨමාලා සමඟ ගෙවන සැබෑ කම්මල් ජීවිතය අපේ ජීවිත හිර කර අගුළු ලූයේය. මේ වන විට මා හඳුනාගෙන සිටි අපේ තවත් බැචෙක් වූ අණ්ඩරයා (නැවතත්, සැබෑ කාඩ් එක නොවේ.) ඔහුගේ ගොන්පාට් වලින් අපේ ඒකාකාරී ජීවිත වල නීරස තරමක් නොව බොහෝ දුරට අඩු කළේය. මහාලිංගම් මහත්මියගේ සැමියා වූ මහාචාර්ය මහාලිංගම්වද මේ වන විට අපි හඳුනාගෙන සිටියෙමු.

    අපේ කාලයේදී යාන්ත්‍රික ඉංජිනේරු විද්‍යා අධ්‍යයන අංශයේ අධිපති වූයේ මහාචාර්ය මහාලිංගම්ය. පැසුණු හිසෙන් යුතු, සුදුවතින් සැරසුණු මේ උත්තුංග දේහධාරියා පෞරුෂයේ සංකේතයක් බඳුවිය. එවකට විදුලි සහ විද්‍යුත් ඉංජිනේරු විද්‍යා අධ්‍යයන අංශයේ අධිපති වූයේ මහාචාර්ය ජයසේකරයි. මහාචාර්ය මහාලිංගම් මෙන් උසමහත පුද්ගලයෙකු නොවූවත් ඔහුද බොහෝ විට සුදුවතින් සැරසුණු ප්‍රසන්න පුද්ගලයෙකි. මහාචාර්ය මහාලිංගම්ගේ විෂය ක්ෂේත්‍රය කම්පනය සහ අනුනාදය හා අදාල වූ අතර මහාචාර්ය ජයසේකර ඉගැන්වුයේ විද්‍යුත් චුම්භක ක්ෂේත්‍ර පිලිබඳවය.

    මේ කාලයේ බොහෝ දිනවල හවස් වරුවේ මහාචාර්ය මහාලිංගම්, යාන්ත්‍රික ඉංජිනේරු විද්‍යා අධ්‍යයන අංශයේ සිට කොරිඩෝව දිගේ දිගු පියවර තබමින් විද්‍යුත් ඉංජිනේරු විද්‍යා අධ්‍යයන අංශයේ මහාචාර්ය ජයසේකරගේ කාර්යාලය වෙත ඇවිද ගොස් දිගු වේලාවක් සාමිචියේ යෙදීම විශේෂ සැලකිල්ලක් නොදැක්වූ සිසුවෙකුට වුවද හොඳින් නිරීක්ෂණය වන දසුනක් විය.

    සාමාන්‍ය ආචාර්ය උපාධියකට වඩා ඉහළ උපාධියක් ලෙස සැලකෙන, තම ක්ෂේත්‍රය වෙනුවෙන් සැලකියයුතු කාර්යභාරයක් සිදුකළ අයෙකුට පිරිනැමෙන, ‘ඩීඑස්සී’ ගෞරව උපාධියක් ලබාගත් ඉංජිනේරු විද්‍යා ක්ෂේත්‍රයේ ලංකාවේ පළමුවැන්නා මහාචාර්ය මහාලිංගම් බව එවකට අපි දැන සිටියෙමු. එමෙන්ම, ඇව්රෝ ජෙට් එන්ජිමෙහි වූ කිසිවෙකුට සොයාගත නොහැකි වූ දෝෂයක් ඔහු විසින් සොයාගත් බවත්, ඒ වෙනුවෙන් ලැබුණු බොහෝ වරදානයන් ප්‍රතික්ෂේප කර, පේරාදෙණිය ඉංජිනේරු පීඨයේ ඉදිරිපස ප්‍රදර්ශනය කර ඇති රොකට් එන්ජිම පමණක් ඔහු ඉල්ලා සිටි බවත් වැනි දේ මේ වෙද්දී අපි අසා සිටියෙමු.

    මේ දිනයේදීත් මහාචාර්ය මහාලිංගම් කොරිඩෝව දිගේ ඇවිද යන්නේ මහාචාර්ය ජයසේකර හමු වීමට විය යුතුය.

    “මචං, ඔය ප්‍රොෆෙසර් මහලිංගම් හැමදාම හවසට හවසට ප්‍රොෆෙසර් ජයසේකර හම්බ වෙන්න යන්නෙ ඇයි කියල දන්නවද?”

    අබරන් තවත් බැචාලා කිහිප දෙනෙකුට කියනු ඇසී මාද ඔලුව දැම්මේ ඔහුගේ කතා සාමාන්‍යයෙන් රසවත් නිසාය. ඒ වගේම, ඔහු නොදන්නා ඕපාදූපයක් නැත.

    “පොර අලුතින් තියරියක් හොයාගෙන ප්‍රොෆෙසර් ජයසේකරත් එක්ක. වයර් නැතුව වයිබ්‍රේෂන් යූස් කරලා ඉලෙක්ට්‍රිසිටි ට්‍රාන්ස්මිට් කරන්න.”

    “අනේ පලයන් බන් යන්න.”

    “නෑ මචං, සිරාවට!”

    මෙසේ කියමින් ඔහු පැත්තක සිටි අණ්ඩරයා දෙස බැලුවේ සිය මතය තහවුරු කිරීමට උදවුවක් බලාපොරොත්තුවෙන් මෙනි.

    “ඒ වුනාට තවම තියරියේ පොඩි අවුල් ටිකක් තියෙනවලු නේද?”

    අණ්ඩරයා අබරන්ට නොපෙනෙන්නට ඉඟියක් කළ නිසා සිදුවී ඇති දේ හිතා ගැනීම කිසිවකුට අමාරු වුනේ නැත. මෙවැනි අණ්ඩර ලස්සනට ඇඹරීම අණ්ඩරයාගේ විශේෂ දක්ෂතාවයකි. අණ්ඩරයාගේ පේටන්ට් කළ හැකි අදහස අබරන් දැන් පොර වාගේ හතර අතට දෙන්නේ ඇත්තටම ඇණගෙනය.

    “සිරානේ මචං. දැන් ඔය වැඩෙන් අපිට අහක ඉඳලා කරන්ට් වදින එකක් නැද්ද?”

    මමත් පැත්තක සිට අබරන්ව ෆෝම් කළෙමි.

    “එහෙම වෙන්නේ නැහැල්ලු. කරන්ට් එක යවන්නේ ඉලෙක්ට්‍රෝ මැග්නටික් වේව්ස් විදිහටලු.”

    අබරන් ගිරවා වගේ දෙන්නේ අණ්ඩරයාගේ වචන බව කාට වුණත් පැහැදිලිය. අණ්ඩරයාගේ මෙවැනි ගොන්පාට් ඒ දිනවල අපේ එදිනෙදා ජීවිතයේ කොටසකි.

    ඒ දවස්වල ගොන්පාට් එකක් වූ මේ කතාව ගොන්පාට් එකක්ම නොවේ. තවමත් පර්යේෂණ මට්ටමේ වුවත් මෙවැනි තාක්ෂණයක් තවදුරටත් සිහිනයක් නොවන අතර ඉදිරියේදී ‘වයර්ලස්’ ලෙස විදුලිබල්බයක් දැල්වීම සිහිනයක් නොවිය හැකිය.

    රැහැන් රහිතව විදුලිය සම්ප්‍රේෂණය කරන අයුරු සොයා නොගත්තත් මහාචාර්ය මහාලිංගම් ඒ කාලයේ අපේ වීරයෙක් මෙන්ම අතීත මතකයේද කොටසකි. ඔහු පාවිච්චි කළ මෝටර් රථය එවකට භාවිතයේ පැවති මාදිලියක නවීන මෝටර් රථයක් නොවූවත් හැමවිටම ඉතා හොඳ තත්ත්වයෙන් නඩත්තු කර තිබුණේය. එමෙන්ම, ශාරීරික ව්‍යායාම සඳහා දිනපතාම සරසවිය හරහා සැලකිය යුතු දුරක් ඇවිදීම මහාචාර්ය මහාලිංගම් නොවරදවා කළ දෙයකි. මහාලිංගම් මහත්මියද මේ කටයුත්තට බොහෝ විට එක්විය. මහාචාර්ය මහාලිංගම් උපන් දිනය මා හරියටම නොදන්නා නමුත් ඔහු විසින් විඳ ඇතැයි මා සිතන දීර්ඝායුෂ ඔහුගේ මෙවැනි යහපත් ජීවන විලසිතාවන්හි ප්‍රතිඵලයක් මිස අහම්බයක් නොවේ.

    මැලේසියානු ලාංකිකයෙකු වූ තරුණ මහාලිංගම් 1946දී ලංකාවට පැමිණෙන්නේ ලංකා තාක්ෂණික විද්‍යාලයෙහි උපාධි අධ්‍යාපනය ලබා ලන්ඩන් විශ්ව විද්‍යාලයෙන් ඉංජිනේරු විද්‍යා බාහිර උපාධියක් ලබාගැනීම සඳහාය. මේ කාලයේදී වත්මන් සිංගප්පුරුවද ඇතුළත් නිදහස ලබා නොතිබුණු මැලේසියාව තුල සරසවි අධ්‍යාපනය ලබාදෙන ආයතන කිසිවක් තිබුණේ නැත.

    මේ කාලයේදී යමක් කමක් තිබුණු මැලේසියානුවන්ගේ සිහිනයක් වූයේ සිය දරුවන් එංගලන්තයට හෝ ලංකාවට එවා උසස් අධ්‍යාපනය ලබා දීමයි. විශේෂයෙන්ම එවකට මැලේසියාවේ රජයේ ඉහළ තනතුරු බොහොමයක් දැරූ උගත් ලාංකිකයෝ සිය දරුවන් ලංකාවට එවා උසස් අධ්‍යාපනය ලබාදුන්හ. ලංකාවේ නීති විද්‍යාලය, වෛද්‍ය විද්‍යාලය, යුනිවර්සිටි කොලීජිය මෙන්ම තාක්ෂනික විද්‍යාලයද කලක සිට කලාපයේ නමක් දිනාගෙන සිටි අධ්‍යාපන ආයතනයි. වෛද්‍ය විද්‍යාලය සහ යුනිවර්සිටි කොලීජිය 1942දී ලංකා විශ්ව විද්‍යාලය තුලට අවශෝෂණය වී තිබුණත් ඉංජිනේරු පීඨය ඇරඹුණේ වසර ගණනක් පමාවී 1950 වසරේදීය.

    අධ්‍යාපනය සඳහා ලංකාවට පැමිණි මැලේසියානුවන් බොහෝ දෙනෙකු ආපසු සිය ගම්බිම් බලා පිටත් වූ නමුත්, එවකට සේවය කිරීමට හා වාසයට ඉතා යෝග්‍ය තැනක් වූ ලංකාවේ දිගටම රැඳෙන්නට මහාලිංගම් තරුණයා තීරණය කළේය. 1950 වසරේදී ලංකා විශ්ව විද්‍යාලයේ ඉංජිනේරු පීඨය පිහිටවන විට එහි ආරම්භක කථිකාචාර්යවරයෙක් ලෙස මහාලිංගම් සේවයට බැඳුණේය. පසුව ලංකා විශ්ව විද්‍යාලයේ ඉංජිනේරු පීඨය පේරාදෙණිය විශ්ව විද්‍යාලයයේ ඉංජිනේරු පීඨය බවට පත් වූ අතර එංගලන්තයේ ෂෙෆීල්ඩ් විශ්ව විද්‍යාලයෙන් ආචාර්ය උපාධිය (PhD ) ලබා ආපසු පැමිණි ආචාර්ය මහාලිංගම් පසුව ලන්ඩන් විශ්ව විද්‍යාලයෙන් DSc ගෞරව ආචාර්ය උපාධියක්ද ලබා මහාචාර්යවරයෙකු ලෙස දිගටම සේවය කළේය

    1940 වසරේ නොවැම්බර් 07 දින ඇමරිකාවේ වොෂින්ටන් ප්‍රාන්තයේ ටකෝමාහි ඉදිකර තිබුණු එවකට ලෝකයේ තිබූ තෙවන දිගම එල්ලෙන පාලම, එය විවෘත කර මාස හතරකට පසුව පැයට සැතපුම් 42ක සුළඟකට ඔරොත්තු දිය නොහැකිව බිඳ වැටුණේ ඉංජිනේරුවන් මවිතයට පත් කරවමිනි. මේ පාලම සැලසුම් කර තිබුණේ පැයට සැතපුම් 120ක සුළඟකට වුවද ඔරොත්තු දිය හැකි පරිදිය. පසුව සොයාගැනුනේ පාලම බිඳවැටීමට හේතුව අනුනාදය (resonance) බවයි. මේ සිදුවීම අලලා සකස් කෙරුණු වාර්තා චිත්‍රපටයක් පේරාදෙණිය ඉංජිනේරු පීඨයේදී නිතර ප්‍රදර්ශනය කෙරුණේය. මෙය මහාචාර්ය මහාලිංගම්ගේ විෂය ක්ෂේත්‍රය විය.

    ටකෝමා පාලම බිඳවැටීමේ 75වන සංවත්සරයට දින හතරක් ඉතිරිව තිබියදී, මහාචාර්ය මහාලිංගම් 03 දින යාපනයේ රෝහලකදී සිය දිවිසැරිය නිමාකර තිබේ. ඔහුගේ අවසන් කටයුතු නොවැම්බර් 04 බදාදා යාපනයේ අලවෙඩ්ඩිහිදී පැවැත්වුණි.

    මහාචාර්ය එස්. මහලිංගම් බිහිකළ දහස් සංඛ්‍යාත ඉංජිනේරුවන් අතුරින් අයෙකු විසින් තබන ලද සටහනකි

  13. Independent Says:

    බොහොම රසවත් කතාවක්. මේ සමහර කරුනු හරියටම මේ විධියටම මා ද අසා ඇත​.

    කෙසේ වෙතත්, ශ්‍රී ලාංකික ඉංජිනේරුවන් ගැන හිතන විට කනගාටුවක් පහලවෙයි.
    උසස් පෙල ගණිත විෂයන් ඉහලින්ම සමත් වීම පිටරටවල දැන් විභාග දෙස බලනවිට ඉතාම දුෂ්කරය​.
    එබැවින් අපේ අයට ඕනෑම රටක පොතේ දැනුම පැරදවිය හැක​. එහෙත් ඉන් පසු රටේ සිටීමෙන් කිසිම වැදගත් අත්දැකීමක් ලැබිය නොහැක​.
    එහෙත් බොහෝ අය​ පගාව ගසා මහා සල්ලිකාරයන් වී වයසටගොස් පසුතැවී මැරී ගොස් අපා ගතවී දුක් විඳිනු ඇත​. දේස පාලන ජඩයින්ට යට නොවී පිරිසිදුව දිවිගත කොට තරමකට හෝ සැපවත් සුවපහසු දිවියක් තවත් බොහෝ අයට ලැබී ඇත​.
    අසීමිත දුක් විඳින ලක් වැසියා ගේ පැත්තම ගනු මිස උජාරු පල්හොරුන් වන්දනා කිරීමක් සුදුසු නැත්තේ එබැවිනි.
    ලංකාව යනු එහි ජීවත් වන මිනිසුන් ය​. පාරවල් ගොඩනැගිලි හෝ කවුදෝ ලියපු මහා වංශය නොවේ.

  14. SA Kumar Says:

    Nalliah Thayabharan

    You’ve written article in sinhala ( hope not used google to translate- just jocking), ohh man I can not believe you old people are real talented !!!

  15. Independent Says:

    “පසුව සොයාගැනුනේ පාලම බිඳවැටීමට හේතුව අනුනාදය (resonance) බවයි. මේ සිදුවීම අලලා සකස් කෙරුණු වාර්තා චිත්‍රපටයක් පේරාදෙණිය ඉංජිනේරු පීඨයේදී නිතර ප්‍රදර්ශනය කෙරුණේය. මෙය මහාචාර්ය මහාලිංගම්ගේ විෂය ක්ෂේත්‍රය විය. ”

    Same thing repeated when opening Millennium Bridge in London after 60 years time, but didn’t collapse , shaken like mad. Looks like bloody Sudda buggers never learned from Mahalingam. This is despite having so many advanced software to check it out easily, it moved under rhythmic excitation due to people walking on it (it was a foot bridge). They rectified it.

    I thought Maha specialised in Mechanical Engineering. However vibrations of bridges comes under structural engineering too.

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