Celebrating the Publication of the 50th Issue of ‘Digital SLEN’By PUBLICITY DIVISION (IESL)
Launched in 1982, IESL printed newsletter has been the reflection of the engineering sector and the profession in Sri Lanka. Since then, all the editor has contributed to the development of the newsletter in numerous ways. Eng. (Dr.) Udeni Nawagamuwa was appointed as the Editor for the IESL newsletter in October 2012 where a significant landmark in the history of IESL was achieved.
His tenure also coincided with radical changes that were taking place in the systems and processes of the IESL Secretariat being transformed into ICT based society. It fell upon Dr. Nawagamuwa to bring corresponding changes to the paper based SLEN publication which was at that time produced in thousands to cater to the entire membership. As an institution which advocates on the sustainable development, IESL thought of going digital to minimize the printing of paper to avoid unnecessary costs and to be environmental friendly. Dr. Nawagamuwa met this challenge by preparing a web based digital newsletter where members could access and interact via the new Management Information System. However, the printed edition was also continued among the members who preferred the paper-based version. From 2013 onwards the Digital SLEN or the Digital version of the Sri Lanka Engineering News was published regularly.
At the initial stage of the IESL digital SLEN, it was more of a supplementary publication to the paper newsletter. However, with the possibilities of a digitized version, the digital SLEN became more prominent and more appealing in a quick time. For this transfer to happen the editor Dr. Nawagamuwa was supported by a video team that visited important construction sites etc. in the country and provided firsthand footage to the newsletter.
After the great contribution of Dr. Nawagamuwa who took the burden to nourish the Digital SLEN with 24 issues, from year 2017, Eng. Indika Walpitage became the second editor of the IESL Digital SLEN. For the first time, the usability and capability of the digital SLEN was put to test during this time. Since there were different arguments and discussions going around on critical topics such as free trade agreements, structural damage due to natural disasters, establishment of Engineering Council etc. the a common voice of engineers was the need of the hour at IESL. SLEN stepped up to fill this void becoming the voice of the IESL. At the same time, the digital SLEN became a forum for discussions on current topics in the country. ‘Letter to Editor’ corner provided a balanced platform for such discussions where some were heated arguments but with the correct professional sprit.
Further, not limiting for the dissemination of knowledge among the engineering community, the best articles coming to the SLEN were streamed to public newspapers as well to increase the awareness of the general public on engineering concepts and practical implications.
In 2018 the responsibility of editor was fallen upon Eng. Lalith Pallegama. being an insightful editor, Eng. Pallegama urged the importance of a successor and the post of Sub-Editor was originated. Thereafter the synergy of these two positions has become the success story of most initiatives to the digital SLEN. Among such initiatives, a mechanism was introduced where all IESL members receive a text message with a link to the current digital SLEN where they can access through their mobile phones. Today the readership of SLEN has reached over 3000 where it was around 700 at the outset.
During this time, the digital SLEN shed its skin to embrace a more reader friendly interface. With the assistance of the new technical development team, the new layout was a triumph.
Being the initial Sub-Editor, Eng. Suran Fernando took over the editorial responsibilities in December 2020. Though there has been only an issue of the Digital SLEN published since him taking over the office, drastic changes have been proposed and adopted in the 50th anniversary issue of the Digital SLEN. Quoting from the inaugural editorial Eng. Suran says “We are committed to publish the Digital SLEN on a monthly basis. In order to offer an enhanced digital experience to the readers, it is decided to increase and improve the multimedia content of the newsletter in par with the advancement of the technology. We are planning to introduce recorded audio interviews (called ‘Podcasts’) in each issue starting from SLEN-50”. Further, an interview with a non-engineering professional on a hot topic, publication of national level contribution by IESL members and the facility to share content of the digital SLEN to any professional/ social media platform has been already embraced by the majority of our members.
At a time where the IESL official digital newsletter is on a path for rapid growth, the contribution of the membership is vital. IESL members can contribute to SLEN in numerus ways like writing technical and non-technical articles, creation of audios/ videos etc.
The President of IESL, ENg. K.P.I.U. Dharmapala extended his fullest support for the SLEN activities and offered his complements for its 50th Gold edition.
As the members of the editorial team IESL Publicity Division will continue to contribute to Digital SLEN in future too and wishes it will truly be the Voice of IESL throughout its journey ahead.
IESL Publicity Division