Recreational mathematics sounds like a tautology to most of us, but after inspiring a generation of Bangladeshis to find a route to a better life through mathematics and computer science, it has become an obsession for Mohammad Kaykobad (PhD(Math) ’88).
A pioneer of computerisation across industries and universities in Bangladesh, Dr Kaykobad’s proudest moments come not from binary breakthroughs, but rather coaching and mentoring young Bangladeshis in international mathematics competitions.
“In a country like Bangladesh, with limited money to invest in education, competitions motivate students to help drive their own learning, building micro-communities of interest in computerisation that will endure,” Dr Kaykobad said.
Dr Kaykobad’s devotion did not go unnoticed, attracting a host of awards including a gold medal from the Bangladeshi President for his contribution to the ICT field and programming competition culture.
“We have had many students earn jobs at Google and Microsoft, where they are building careers. They will learn many things while they are away and some of them will come back to help build Bangladesh. This is a very important way we can build a better future for our nation.”
With a deep interest in the potential of computerisation, he headed straight to Flinders University to complete his PhD.
He became one of the pioneers of computer education in Bangladesh and has been deeply involved in the development of computer science curricula in almost every university in the nation.
“Recreational mathematics is really important – the students need to feel engaged, like they are having fun,” Dr Kaykobad said.
“If they can solve a problem that has never been solved they get a lot of happiness, so by setting good creative questions and not giving them the answers, they get a lot of satisfaction.”