By Abish Shakya
Photo by Arwind Chhetri
A Genius among App Developers’, ‘Leader of Experts’ and ‘Frontrunner among Whizz-kids, Shankar Uprety is the IT wunderkind who amazed his schools’ teachers with his talent, dumbfounded his college faculties with his knowledge; and benefited millions with his innovation.
The brain behind ‘HamroPatro’, a Nepali calendar app, Uprety is the passionate software engineer who has his expertise in software design and development, and is the mind behind other applications, including Hamro Keyboard,Hamro News and Hamro Magazines.
The prodigy’s early days
Uprety might have been a prodigy, but he was not privileged.
Schooled at Trijudhha Madhyamik Vidhyalaya, a government-run school in Birgunj, Uprety had not seen a computer until he was in class 8 in 1996, and until when someone donated few units of computer to his school.
“I was amused when the monitor of a computer displayed “Swagatam” after booting. I hadn’t thought that computers could be interactive or could display words in Nepali language,” shares Uprety.
Since that day, his hobbies changed from ‘flying kites’ and ‘riding bicycles’ to ‘coding’.
As the internet was not easily accessible at that time, Uprety and his group of friends would borrow magazines related to computers from libraries, and learn ‘coding’ by themselves. They even traced the outlines of the keyboard and keys onto paper to learn speed-typing. It was only during lunch breaks that they would get a chance to use school’s computer, and in many instances, successfully ran codes in their first attempts.
Most students now believe QBasic as an outdated programming language but this was the application in which Uprety created his first 2D shooting game.
“After creating mini games, I used to transfer them to games’ directories or desktops of other computers. I used to smile watching my fellow friends and other students playing them,” reveals Uprety.
Secret to achieving
Winning became his habit ever since Uprety secured ‘first rank’ in ‘class 3’. Uprety who continuously became class topper throughout his school’s life, secured impressive grades in his higher education.
While doing his +2 from Universal Academy, Uprety impressed his friends and college faculties by securing higher marks; 92% in Physics and 94% in Chemistry in Class XI, for an instance. Similarly, while pursuing B.E. in Computer Engineering from Institute of Engineering (IoE), Pulchowk, he held a record of a distinction of 85.5%, and while doing his Masters of Science in Computer System Engineering from Boston University, Boston, he had an impressive GPA of 3.89.
Uprety says, “I worked hard but I never felt I pushed myself too much.”
Learning from the brilliant
Uprety who won the ‘Intelligent Agent for Multi-Player Snake Game’ by creating a program overnight, had his first computer only when he was attending second year of Bachelor’s degree, the time when he needed a workstation to compile entrance preparation books, and prepare himself to get admitted in IoE, Pulchowk.
For someone who has been spectacular in the field of computing, we would think that he learned ‘coding’ from a fairly young age or that he was privileged, but he began from nothing. He achieved greatness with curiosity and determination.
When there is a will, there is a way. We do not need all the gears and top notch facilities to excel at anything, and Uprety has proven this to everyone.
He says, “Nepal not only lacks mentors who can give right education, but also lacks conducive environment and resources essential for acquiring good education. It is necessary to have a strong foundation and understanding the technical terms, but there’s a lot of self-learning involved. Only the core concept is required to be taught in school, and the rest can be self-pursued.”
The future of Information Technology
Considering the growing demand of IT personnel, Uprety believes professional pursuit towards the field of IT is a smart choice.
He advises, “These days, everyone has smartphones, and I suggest people to be innovative and develop mobile apps. IT enthusiasts can always develop apps that can help government bodies, private companies and general people get information easily, and make everyday life easier,” adding, “iOS developers are in huge demand. IT enthusiasts can work for international companies without stepping outside their home country. ”
Describing in technical terms, Uprety says, “We don’t focus data structure and algorithms in Nepal, which could be further focused on.”
Uprety, who previously worked for Symantec, is currently working to improvise ‘HamroPatro’, an application providing Nepali dates, special observances, date converter, and others that aims in connecting Nepali communities.
“FUTURE OF LEARNING IS THROUGH ONLINE SITES, SUCH AS COURSERA, CODECADEMY OR UDEMY, IT IS EASIER TO GET A JOB WHILE EASY TO LEARN THROUGH ONLINE COURSES WITHOUT NECESSARILY HAVING AN EDUCATIONAL DEGREE.”