Programmer Kong Divin recently returned from a trip to the US, where he won second place in a Microsoft Office context in Texas. He had entered the same competition last year, but did not win any prizes, though it gave him the drive to return.
“I saw that last year’s winners brought pride to their country, so I wanted success like them,” he told VOA Khmer recently. “It made me put more effort to compete and bring honor to my country, too.”
Kong Divin’s first encounter with a computer was at the age of 9, and he began reading about information technology in his older brother’s text book. His father is a doctor, and his mother owns a pharmacy. He graduated Sisowat High School and decided to study IT at the University of Puthisastra and medical science at the University of Health Sciences.
Listen to full VOA Khmer interview with Kong Davin in Khmer:
Now, in a country where pirated software is common, Kong Divin hopes to design a better data system to help Cambodia’s hospitals. “In the IT field, once you do it, you’ll see a result,” he said. “I feel happy when I’m tested to write code.”
Chhum Chheng Kong, Divin’s father, said he watched his son win in Texas via web cam, and shared in his happiness. His son has always been studious, Chhum Chheng Kong said. “He studies until 1 am or 2 am most nights,” he said. “His mother usually advises him no to spend too much time at night, but he prefers night time to morning.”
Mork Ratha, dean of the science faculty at Puthisastra, said he has noticed Kong Divin’s talents in the two years he’s been teaching him. “Divin is an active student in class, and he’s smart,” Mork Ratha said. “He’s always researching, so when we explain to him, he easily catches the lesson.”
And while many Cambodians who take on two degrees can have a hard time linking them, Kong Divin thinks he’s found a way: improving Cambodia’s medical system through better data.
“Actually, IT can be used in all fields as a business solution,” he said. “Because we all control data through systems. Controlling data in a hospital can’t be done yet [in Cambodia]. We are only able to control [a patient’s] name. What should be the main focus is the artificial intelligence of the computer. It needs lots of information from the doctors to control those data.”
Kong Divin integrated a similar idea in a business model competition in early 2015. There, he and his teammates created a website that offered information related to Cambodian hospitals, to help people make a decision on whether to go abroad for treatment.
“We created a website that focused on convincing people to go to the local hospital, rather going abroad for treatment,” Kong Divin said. “Going abroad costs money for transportation and medical expenses, but those can be done in Cambodia too. What they lack is the information on which hospital is reliable.”
In the future, he hopes to build a system to digitalize a patient’s records at the hospital. This will improve the health system in Cambodia, he said.