Driven by his passion for science, technology and innovation, Dinesh Katugampala has always been trying to find new solutions to everyday problems. Even as a student at Bomiriya National School and D. S. Senanayake College, he showed promise in the fields of science and mathematics. At Bomiriya National School he and his friends created a bio gas unit for the school cafeteria as a clean, energy saving alternative. At a science exhibition at D. S. Senanayake College, he impressed his audience by turning copper into gold – a ‘science magic’ as he called it.
However, Mr. Katugampala’s most significant innovation was the world’s first radius metre – a device to find the radius of any sphere or arc. He invented the apparatus in 2008, when he was a final year student of the National Diploma in Technology (NDT) at the University of Moratuwa, following textile and clothing engineering technology.
According to the young inventor - an engineer at MAS Innovations - his creation happened quite by chance.
“At that time, we were building a house and I noticed that one of the arches was crooked. I pointed it out to the mason but he disagreed, claiming that it was perfect. I could not argue with him but I had a feeling that something was wrong with the arch and wanted to prove it. This is what led to my invention,” Mr. Katugampala reminisced.
Before building the device, Mr. Katugampala came up with a mathematical formula to measure the radius of a part of a circle. His mathematical derivation is called the Square Dual Theorem and is the basis for the radius metre.
In the year 2009 he patented both his creation and the mathematical formula.
"Mr. Katugampala and his radius metre has been nominated as a finalist for the Ray Award 2015, a coveted award set up in Dr. Ray Wijewardene’s name to recognise outstanding inventions. Dr. Philip Revatha (Ray) Wijewardene, is celebrated as a legendary visionary, scientist and an inventor who excelled in many different areas of science including, agriculture, aviation,engineering design and renewable energy technologies"
However, since then he has been working to improve his apparatus to optimize its usefulness.
“The model I came up with initially was very basic; it consisted of two wooden rods. By 2010 I built an aluminum apparatus. In 2011, I managed to make it semi-digitized. For this I won the Presidential Award. In 2012, I built the fully-digitized prototype and by 2013 I managed to create a commercialized version ready for the market,” Mr. Katugampala explained.
Mr. Katugamapala explained that the radius metre could be useful in several industries including the tyre manufacturing industry, metal and plastic pipe industry, vehicle body industry, machine industry, construction field and any other engineering related industry. It is also immensely useful in archaeology to figure out the sizes of unearthed artefacts.
“This is the only apparatus that can measure the radius of an arc. Before this, the radius of a part of a circle had to be measured using manual gages, which was time consuming. But with this device it can be done 100 percent accurately within seconds,” he pointed out.
Mr. Katugampala has already sold one radius metre to a tyre company. He said that he had received orders for several others as well.
His invention has won him international accolades as well bringing honour to Sri Lanka. In 2012, it won him the silver medal in the field of industrial equipment at the World Innovation Exhibition in Geneva, organized by the World Intellectual Property Organization.
Mr. Katugampala and his radius metre has been nominated as a finalist for the Ray Award 2015, a coveted award set up in Dr. Ray Wijewardene’s name to recognise outstanding inventions.
Dr. Philip Revatha (Ray) Wijewardene, is celebrated as a legendary visionary, scientist and an inventor who excelled in many different areas of science including, agriculture, aviation,engineering design and renewable energy technologies. He is credited with inventing the world’s first two-wheeled hand-tractor ‘Land Master’ to help small farmers as well. As a seasoned pilot and an aviator, he built several ultra-light aircraft and helicopters, and trained a generation of pilots and aircraft technicians.
"Mr. Katugampala’s goal is to market his product. He also wants his Square Dual Theorem to be included in mathematics textbooks and taught in schools"
In order to honour one of the greatest catalysts and inventors Sri Lanka had ever seen, the Ray Wijewardene Charitable Trust (RWCT) was established in early 2011 to promote Dr. Ray’s vision and ideas in Sri Lanka and to help upcoming creators like Dr. Ray himself.
Coincidentally, one of Mr. Katugampala’s role models was Dr. Ray Wijewardene.
Currently, Mr. Katugampala’s goal is to market his product. He also wants his Square Dual Theorem to be included in mathematics textbooks and taught in schools.
“There is no point in keeping the patent to myself. There is no point in inventing if the inventions are not used. I want my creation to be useful and I want to share my mathematical theorem with school students to help in their education,” he said.