Noel Kalicharan (Date of Birth: 14th Nov 1952)
Trinidad and Tobago Icons Vol 2
Dr Noel Kalicharan joined the St. Augustine Campus of The University of the West Indies (UWI) in 1976. He was the first full-time lecturer in computer science and became the longest serving member of staff there. He shaped the teaching of computer science in Trinidad and Tobago for several decades and authored several internationally recognised computer science books.
Kalicharan was born on 14th November, 1952 in Lengua, Trinidad. He attended Lengua Presbyterian School, participated in the “Cubs and Scouts”, and organised cricket matches against boys from other villages. In 1963, he placed first in the Presbyterian Teachers’ Association Examination, later earning a scholarship to Naparima College.
A well-rounded student, he represented his school in cricket, table tennis and chess, and tied for first place in the country in his O’Level GCE examinations. At the A’Level examinations, Kalicharan won a National Scholarship in Mathematics and the UWI Open Scholarship. He attended UWI, Mona, where he attained a First Class Honours Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Special Mathematics, and represented the university in table tennis and cricket.
Graduating in 1973, he won the West Indies Studentship to Trinity College, Cambridge but declined it, instead returning to Trinidad and Tobago to teach mathematics at Naparima College. In 1974, a Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship took him to the University of British Columbia where he pursued his Masters in Computer Science, specialising in programming languages. He worked part-time as a programming tutor to undergraduates, and later edited The Minicode Users Guide.
After graduating in 1976, Dr Kalicharan lectured at the Faculty of Engineering and then the Faculty of Natural Sciences, UWI where he introduced new courses in computer science. He was a member of the committee responsible for formulating the first computer science programme at UWI, in 1979 and has been involved in every revision since.
When Kalicharan began teaching, textbooks were not regularly available so he wrote monographs, technical reports, and manuals for use by students. In 1985, he published the first local book on computer science – Computer Studies-Fundamental Plus. Since then, he has written fourteen more books, all of which are highly acclaimed internationally. Dr Kalicharan had taught every computer science graduate of UWI until 1977. He also formulated and presented a 26-episode television series on computer literacy and programming: Computers – Bit by Bit.
Dr Kalicharan was Chief Examiner for the National Training Board, NIHERST and the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC). He also served on the advisory committees that introduced computer science at the secondary and tertiary levels in Trinidad and Tobago. Since 1993, he trained Trinidad and Tobago’s candidates for the International Olympiad in Informatics.
Dr Kalicharan has won several prizes for his innovations, namely Pan Tutor for teaching music for the pan, and games such as Brainstorm! which develops logical thinking and numeracy skills, and Not Just Luck, which develops word skills. His other significant projects include a computer system to tabulate results for the 1991 General Elections, another in 1992 to process the results of National Carnival Commission competitions, and a third to calculate target scores in a limited overs cricket match interrupted by rain.
A pioneer in computer science education in Trinidad and Tobago and the wider Caribbean, Noel Kalicharan’s contributions in diverse areas have had a lasting impact on the standard and quality of Information Technology locally, regionally and internationally.