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Risindu – a space tech lover

3 years ago

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By Kusumanjalee Thilakarathna Risindu Ransen is a young space technology enthusiast who is trying to pave his way into becoming a space scientist. He was recently presented with the opportunity to participate at a NASA event as a result of his attempts to keep in touch with them on their latest news and discoveries. He is also a budding public speaker and a karate player. He currently serves his school as a school prefect and dreams of starting an astronomy club in his school to educate his fellow students. Here is what he shared with Little Stars. Tell us about yourself Risindu. My full name is W.A. Risindu Ransen and I am 15 years old. I live with my parents and my two brothers in Kotikawatta. I am currently studying at Sri Rahula College, Mulleriyawa. I prefer to read books and play video games during my leisure time. I believe that taking the road less travelled will bring me successes. What is your ambition? I aspire to become a NASA scientist in the future. Why a NASA scientist? I was interested in space technology since I was in lower grades. Years back, I had to do a class presentation on the solar system and that is when I first got to know about NASA. I researched a lot about the institute and after some time, I started writing to them. Ever since, I am determined to join the International Space University and study astronomy. You were recently invited to witness a rare moment at NASA. Tell us how this happened. I continued to communicate with NASA and acquired information for my studies. By this time, I had developed a keen interest in space technology. Recently, I got invited to participate in their mission “Launch America” as a virtual guest. This was quite a new experience for me as I was able to participate in the countdown for the launch. Later, NASA compiled a video of this count down with the clips we sent. My clip is also in their video, where I joined them in the countdown. There was a recent mission called “Mars 2020”. I registered with this programme and I was lucky to receive a boarding pass. Mars 2020 is a Mars rover mission by NASA's Mars Exploration Programme that includes the Perseverance Rover and the Mars Helicopter Ingenuity. It was launched on 30 July 2020. I was planning to visit, but due to the Covid-19 outbreak, all my plans got cancelled. Luckily, I still got the chance to participate as a virtual guest. Are you studying robotics? Well, I don’t go for classes or training to study robotics. But I do my research on robotics with the material I receive through NASA. I think my knowledge is very basic, but I am determined to enhance it. Is there any place in Sri Lanka that you can get information on astronomy? To my knowledge, the Arthur C. Clarke Centre provides good opportunities. I am planning to participate in one of their workshops in December. Are you a member of the school astronomy club? Unfortunately, we do not have a club specifically for astronomy. But I have a plan. When I am done with my Ordinary Level (O/L) exams, I am hoping to suggest to my school that we start a club. Through that, I hope to share the knowledge I have gathered with my schoolmates. But I doubt whether many are interested in this. You said you enjoy studying. What is your favourite thing to study at school? Well, I am not the smartest in class. I haven’t even come first in my class. But this is not something I worry about. My favourite subject in school is English. I have scored the highest for English in my grade for many consecutive years. I find pleasure in reading English books and watching English movies to learn English. So you use reading English books as a tool in mastering English. What is your favourite book? My favourite book is Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling, and Harry is my favourite character in it. This is the best book series I’ve ever come across. How do you manage your time to be able to do so many things? When I return from school, I try to finish my homework and get into studying. I usually spend time after dinner to research about space, read books, or play games until I go to sleep. I do one of these things every day. You missed one of the most important events of your life due to the Covid-19 outbreak. How did you feel when you realised that you were going to miss it? I was so disappointed, but I had to accept the fact that this is not something I can change. And I still got to participate virtually. However, due to the long break we got, I had a lot of extra time to work on my research projects. Some say that those who work with computers or technology all the time are most likely to end up behaving like machines. Do you agree with this? Well, I think there is some truth to it. A person who always engages with machines should make sure that they get plenty of physical activity to maintain balance in their lives. They should at least consider engaging in a sport. So do you engage in any sports? Yes, of course. I am a karate player. I have participated in many tournaments and even won medals for my skills. In 2018, I was able to bag a silver medal at the Nihon International Karate Tournament held in Colombo. I have also won a gold medal at another competition. Are there any other extracurricular activities you partake in? I am also interested in public speaking. I was able to become first at a Toastmasters competition organised by HSBC. This was a school event. In 2017, I was able to take part in the school parliament and do a lot of work for the school through that. I wasn’t elected as a minister but was able to join in with them in school development activities. This is something I am proud of. I have also participated and won places in provincial-level English dictation and creative writing competitions. Tell us what you think are the three most important qualities a public speaker must possess. Courage, self-confidence, and a clear mind. Who is supporting you in all these endeavours?  My family and my teachers. Among my teachers, I think I should especially mention the names of Miss Shashikala and Miss Dushyanthi.

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