I was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka on 17th October 1947. From my young days, my parents Dr Anthony Lucas and Mrs Erin Lucas always encouraged me to be honest, study well and take part in extra curricular activities. My brother Nimal, and sisters Marie, Srini and Iromi were always by my side. We had a Table Tennis (TT) table at home, and every one in the family played TT. We played badminton on an outdoor court, and the family also got together daily for quality time in the evening playing cards and carrom.
I had almost my entire school education at St Joseph's College , Colombo , (except for an year or two spent at the Montessori at St Bridgets Convent, Colombo). I am proud to have risen to be a Josephian Prefect, the Captain of Table Tennis, and winning medals for the best results in the school at both the GCE(Ordinary Level) and GCE(Advanced Level) Examinations.
I am normally called by my friends and colleagues by my middle name Rohan. I started my engineering education at the Univerity of Ceylon at Peradeniya in October 1966. Based on my performance at the GCE (A Level) examination, I was permitted to skip the first year and complete the four year degree course in August 1969, obtaining First Class honours and Second Class honours (Lower Division) respectively in the two remaining examinations. I used to frequent the University Gymnasium almost daily and played for the University in Table Tennis; and for my hall of residence, Jayathilaka Hall, in many sports including Table Tennis, Tennis and Cricket. I will always treasure these memories which has made my very humble and broad minded.
After a short stint as an Temporary Instructor at the Engineering Faculty at Peradeniya soon after graduation, I joined the Ceylon College of Technology (CCT) at Moratuwa (presently upgraded to the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka) on 13 March 1970, having been instilled by Professor Sam Karunaratne, who was my lecturer at Peradeniya and had been selected to be the Head of the Department of Electrical Engineering at the CCT and who reigned for over thirty three years. In October 1971 I proceeded to the United Kingdom on a UNESCO Fellowship for my postgraduate studies at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST). In October 1972, I obtained my Master's degree (MSc) having successfully completed the relevant written examinations in Electrical Power Systems Engineering and defended the dissertation on "Cross-bonded cables and analysis of non-linearities". In October 1974, I successfully defended the doctoral thesis on "Representation of transformers in switching surge studies" and obtained my PhD and returned to Moratuwa. I still place in high esteem Dr Keith Cornick who guided me through this period. I am fortunate to have been at St Anselm Hall throughout my studies in Manchester and for being able to Captain the Table Tennis team in my final two years. I was also a member of the Hall Bridge team, and a regular Snooker player in the evenings. Having returned to Sri Lanka with my PhD, I have been teaching both basics in Electrical Engineering, and advanced subjects such as High Voltage Engineering. I have also taught the basics of Lightning Protection and Earthing for many years at Master's Level.
Ramala who was employed at Hatton National Bank after leaving school gave up working when we got married in May 1978. She is the daughter of District Judge Benzer and Lena Fernando. We have a daughter Roshanthi who was born in May 1980, and Ramala gave up working to look after the family. She taught Piano music and Theory for some time when we lived in Moratuwa.
In October 1981, I was awarded a Commonwealth Research Fellowship, on which I undertook post-doctoral research with Keith Cornick in the Department of Electrical Engineering at UMIST for one year. My wife Ramala and baby daughter Roshanthi accompanied me to Manchester. This visit laid the foundation for my future research.
For the next seven years or so, I taught at Moratuwa, undertook research relevant to Sri Lanka and undertook consultancy work. My next sabbatical was in September 1989, where I accepted a Visiting Professorship for one year at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Manitoba, Canada and undertook research with Professor Peter McLaren. My visit was funded by the Manitoba HVDC Research Centre. Ramala and Roshanthi accompanied me on this visit. Roshanthi who was a shy girl at that time got the opportunity to study in Dalhousie Elementary and also to learn swimming. This sabbatical was very fruitful academically, resulting in a large number of conference and other publications which greatly helped me in becoming the first Associate Professor in Electrical Engineering on merit. I am extremely grateful to Peter for this opportunity.
After progressing in my academic and professional career for the next few years at Moratuwa, and having been again promoted on merit to a full Professorship, in May 1997 I visited the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand on the prestigious Erskine Fellowship and remained there for about eight months and spent my time doing teaching and research. Ramala and Roshanthi accompanied on this trip. Roshanthi in particular was fortunate to gain admission to a prestigious school which helped mould her character . During my time at Canterbury I was associated in my work with Professor Jos Arrillaga, Dr Chris Arnold and Dr Neville Watson. I spent the remaining four months of my sabbatical at the University of Auckland, New Zealand doing teaching and research associated with Dr Nalin Pahalawatta and Dr Udaya Annakkage. Ramala and Roshanthi spent only a very short time in Auckland as Roshanthi had already missed part of her advanced level schooling in Sri Lanka. However, I do not regret the decision to take her out for 8 months to New Zealand as she would never have got that exposure if she remained in Sri Lanka throughout, and which exposure has provided rich dividends.
In September 1999, my wife, daughter and I spent one month visiting some of the Universities in Melbourne, Brisbane and Wollongong in Australia and the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. We also spent a one week holiday at the Gold Coast during the visit where especially Roshanthi enjoyed the fabulous entertainment facilities there.
Roshanthi studied at Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitiya from where she sat for her GCE (Advanced Level) examination in August 1999. She offered Applied Mathematics, Pure Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry and obtained an overall aggregate of 278 (out of 400) and was admitted to the University of Moratuwa as an undergraduate student in December 2000. She was selected for the high demand specialisation of Electronics & Telecommunications Engineering at the end of the first year after performing at the top of the batch. While at the University, during the first semeser, Roshanthi also took part in the Drama "It runs in a family" conducted by the English Literary Association (ELA) of the University. She was also an active member of the Rotaract Club of the University and has helped in organising the "Are You Ready programme" for the graduands for 3 years and and ended up as the Community Services Director of the Club during her last year at the University, where one of her acts was the donation of urgently required medical supplies to the Cancer Hospital. She took part in swimming and also played tennis at the University. She graduated with First Class Honours on 1 November 2004.
Roshanthi was employed as an Engineer at Suntel Ltd in its Corportate Technical Services Division for two years soon after graduation. She also managed to find time to take part in extra-curricular activities including playing badminton and taking part in Drama, but with increasing work load she had to give them up.
Roshanthi embarked on the prestigious MBA programme at the Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge. She obtained the MBA degree in October 2007, having done the Individual Project at the Global Fund in Switzerland. From mid-December 2007, she was employed at Dialog Telecom for a few months when she was offered the position of Strategic Officer at The Global Fund in Geneva, Switzerland and took up the appointment on 1 June 2008.
Roshanthi got married to Lakshita Gunaratne in October 2010. Picture on left shows, from left to right, Rohan, Srimani and Lakshitha Gunaratne; Roshanthi, Rohan and Ramala Lucas.
After marriage, Lakshitha joinged Roshanthi for a short while in Geneva and they returned to Sri Lanka in 2011. Roshanthi was a Research Manager at LIRNEasia (an ICT policy and regulation think-tank active across the Asia Pacific region) till March 2015. Lakshitha is working as a Senior Executive at CIC Holdings (portfolio in Healthcare, Industrial, Consumer Products, Crop Solutions and Services). from left to right, Rohan, Srimani and Lakshitha Gunaratne, Roshanthi, Rohan and Ramala Lucas.
In March 2015, Roshanthi furthered her career by moving to the Colombo Office of Stax (Global Strategy Consulting Firm which develops fact-based analyses and insights) as a Senior Executive.
In February 2016, Roshanthi and Lakshitha were blessed with a son Avisha, and I became a devoted grandfather (figure above on right).
In 2006, I was fortunate to enrol in the Toastmaster's International programme at the University of Moratuwa where I made my ice breaker on How I do things differently which will also give you some additional insight into my life. Soon afterwards, I undertook my final sabbatical leave from October 2006 to October 2007 at the University of Manitoba in Canada, in collaboration with the Manitoba HVDC Research Centre, developing a small signal stability module for the well known PSCAD/EMTDC programme.
Although I was scheduled to retire on 30th September 2013, my services were extended, and I finally retired on 30th March 2014 when I had completed 44 years of teaching at the University of Moratuwa (and its predecessors). In Recognition of my services, I was also bestowed the title Emeritus Professor by the University of Moratuwa.
On the eve of my retirement, I was honoured by the Institution of Engineers, Sri Lanka with its Engineering Excellence Award, and by the University of Moratuwa by the Teaching Excellence Award. Some years earlier, I had also received the Research Excellence Award from the University. In August 2014, the batch of graduates from the 1969 final year of which I was part of, completed its 45th anniversary by fully equipping a room to the level of an international seminar room.
I completed writing my autobiography soon after retirement, and after a pre-launch presentation on the "Rise and Shine" TV show on Channel Eye, my autobiography (including the memories of my friends) was launched in book form at the IESL premises to a large audience on 17th October 2014.
Messages received from former students and colleagues are also published in the web-site http://www.elect.mrt.ac.lk/lucas/autobiography/Memories_commonformat.htm.
[The autobiography is priced at Rs 700 and is available for purchase at Expographics bookshops, the Institution of Engineers Sri Lanka and at the Office of the Electrical Engineering Department at the University of Moratuwa.]
Since retirement, I am involved in part-time teaching at the University of Moratuwa and the Sir John Kotalawela Defence University, and in doing some consultancy.