Meet a CQTian: Resmi Poovathumkal Raju

Resmi works behind the scenes to keep the Centre’s websites and databases running smoothly
07 October 2020

Resmi sits on a stone bench in front of a lake Resmi's role at CQT involves programming IT systems that support the Centre's operations. When she's not at work, she enjoys travelling. This picture was taken on a holiday to Tokyo.


Who are you?

I’m Resmi and I’m from Kerala, India. I am an IT analyst and have been working as part of CQT's admin team since 2014.

What is your role at CQT?

My main role is programming to develop and maintain websites and databases. I support public websites including quantumlah.org, event and research group websites, and also internal tools to handle matters such as safety training, procurement tracking, asset management, job applications, publication records and more.

Sometimes my task is to write high-quality source code to programme complete applications, then perform unit and integration testing before launch. For all our products, I am also responsible for ongoing improvements. For example, we will get suggestions from our community about how we can enhance or add features to our websites. I will gather all the information for discussion with our team to set the requirement specifications. Then, I will implement these features, troubleshoot and debug the applications.

Previously, I was also involved in IT support. This included preparing PCs for staff, setting up and installing software, providing IT orientation, and responding to any other requests that come. These jobs are now handled by a university cluster team led by IT manager Jacky Lim. When that cluster was set up, my role moved into CQT's outreach team.

Could you tell us about a project that you were most proud of?

It was the revamp of our quantumlah.org website for our tenth anniversary. This was also one of the biggest projects that I did for CQT. The pages were designed by Aki Honda. Jacky and I worked together with the outreach team to make it happen in a very limited time. There was an official launch of the website at the end of our anniversary function. That was one of the happiest moments during my time at CQT.

What is your expertise?

Programming. I actually had no plans to go into IT until I entered university. I had intended to go into the medical industry. But the course I was offered when I received the results for my university entrance exams was not what I was interested in. I chose the computer applications course instead.

Before then, I did not know anything about computers or what to do with them. It was different from now where we handle computers very early on in life and computer science is sometimes in pre-university curricula. The first semester was very difficult as I was learning everything from scratch. By my third year in university, I knew that programming was what I wanted to do.

Are there misconceptions that people have about your field?

People usually say that if you want to learn programming or go into the computer science field, you have to be good in math. However, I feel that anybody can do programming. It is like finding a way to go somewhere. You just have to think through the steps you might take to reach your destination. It is logical thinking. What you do need to know is the language. There are a lot of programming languages and the syntax for each can be different.

Some of the languages that I learnt in university were C, C++, Visual Basic, Java, ASP.NET, PHP, HTML, CSS, Javascript, and SQL. Now I’m working in PHP.

That is a lot of languages.

Technology is moving very fast so I think a good programmer is someone who can adapt rapidly to change. The languages are one of the many things that are changing. You can also find yourself needing to quickly get to know new frameworks and libraries. At the same time, even as things change, what I found over the past ten years is that some things such as implementation patterns still repeat.

What do you find most difficult and what do you enjoy most about programming?

I think the hardest part about programming is that it is sometimes not easy to explain how much work is behind something and it can be impossible to predict how much time something will take. A task can seem very simple but have a struggle behind to choose the right approach to the problem. This takes lot of time thinking, doing researching and so on. Extra challenges come when you have a deadline looming or requirements keep changing. Having a good team with you helps make things easier.

I enjoy the whole journey of creating something from nothing. I believe there is no one right way to do something. Sometimes a task may initially seem very complex, but you realise later that there is a simple and elegant way to tackle it. It is very satisfying when you finally implement the solution and make it work. That people use and appreciate the program is rewarding too. Technically, I think there’s a lot of personal satisfaction to be gained from writing clean, maintainable code that any other programmer can understand and build upon.

What are your hobbies?

Something which I really enjoy is travelling with my husband. Before our wedding, I did not have much experience travelling and Singapore was my first destination outside Kerala. After travelling together, I found that this was something I really enjoyed. We had many plans for this year, but the priority is to going back to Kerala as I’m missing my family. Hopefully, things will get better and I can meet them soon. I also like listening to music. Melody songs are my favourite. I occasionally read as well. I have a habit of getting books at the airport and reading on the plane while travelling.