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Nihal to become a Doctor of Science

Nihal to become a Doctor of Science

It’s been an unconventional career journey for electronic engineering Senior Lecturer Nihal Kularatna, a journey that is about to deliver him a Doctor of Science.

“I’m delighted to receive this qualification as it has given due credit to my contributions in the field of electronic and electrical engineering over many decades,” says Kularatna.

“I was born and brought up in Sri Lanka, and my parents couldn’t afford for me to do any postgraduate study so it hasn’t been a smooth journey to where I am now. It’s been a roller-coaster. I have been guiding PhD students for many years now, and now receiving a DSc is a huge honour.”

Kularatna submitted his thesis for the degree at the end of 2013 and received official notification he would be awarded the DSc in June 2015.

University of Waikato Dean of Science and Engineering Professor Bruce Clarkson says Kularatna’s contribution to the University has been significant.
“This award is justified recognition for Nihal’s strong research performance over many years.”

Kularatna’s interest in electrical engineering began at an early age as he was growing up in Sri Lanka.

“I used to walk home from primary school across town with my friends. I started digging around in the garbage bins of radio repair shops picking up discarded components, which I didn’t know were resistors and capacitors. I enjoyed playing with them, and by the age of 10 I was able to use step-down transformers instead of batteries to light up bulbs.”

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In 1976, Kularatna graduated with a BSc (Engineering)(Hons) from Sri Lanka’s University of Peradeniya. From 1976 to 1985 he worked in Sri Lanka and the Middle East as an electronics engineer responsible for navigational aids and communications projects in civil aviation and digital telephone exchange systems.

After returning to Sri Lanka from a three-year contract as an electronic engineer in Saudi Arabia, he joined the Arthur C Clarke Institute for Modern Technologies in 1985 as a research and development engineer. He was appointed as CEO in 2000.

Kularatna came to New Zealand with his family in 2002 to take up a position at the University of Auckland, moving to the University of Waikato in 2006. His research work at Waikato is in the main area power electronics and the sub-areas of supercapacitor applications, power conditioning and surge protection. He invented a supercapacitor-based surge protector, the S-TViQ, which has made it to commercialisation and was named New Zealand Innovator of the Year at the 2013 New Zealand Engineering Excellence Awards.

He has eight published books and 120 journal and conference papers.
Kularatna will be conferred with his DSc at the 2pm graduation ceremony at Claudelands Event Centre on 20 October.


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