BU Putting Mark On World Finals Of "Tech Olympics"
by Frank Raczkiewicz, science writer, (254) 710-1964
Baylor University is gearing up to play host to the IBM-sponsored Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC), a competition that will bring the world's brightest computer programming college students together for a true "battle of the brains." The contest, which is being held in San Antonio, will run between Monday, April 10, and Wednesday, April 12.
The 30th annual ICPC will bring 83 teams from universities across the world to Texas for the three-day computer programming contest. The finalists were narrowed from more than 5,000 teams from nearly 1,600 universities in 71 countries. Although ICPC is headquartered at Baylor, this is the first time the competition has been held in Texas since 1991 and it is first time it has been held in the United States since 2003.
"We're thrilled to have it back in Texas and we're thrilled that Baylor is hosting it," said ICPC executive director William Poucher, who also is a computer science professor at Baylor. "We wanted to bring the contest back to Texas for a while now and we decided to take it to the soul of Texas, San Antonio."
Teams are made up of three students and led by a coach. The teams face a series of 10 complex, real-world computer programming problems, which have to be completed in five hours. Completing these problems is the equivalent of an entire semester-worth of computer programming. The team that correctly solves the most problems, in the least amount of time, wins the competition.
As the host, Baylor is putting its green and gold mark on the occasion. More than 100 student, faculty and staff volunteers will greet teams and act as tour guides throughout the competition. Poucher said the competition will bring more than 600 people from around the world and there will be a Baylor presence at every level of the competition.
"We've been planning for this event for the past three to five years," Poucher said. "I think we're ready, we have some of the most gifted people in the world running this competition."
While Baylor's team did not make it to the finals this year, they did make it to the regional competition. In 1982, the Baylor team won the entire competition, the only first-place international win in the university's history. The '82 team will be present at this year's competition.
ICPC officials said the main message they hope to portray is that Baylor, the state of Texas and the United States support the technology leaders of tomorrow. Officials hope competitions like this will spur more students to pursue a technology-oriented career. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the elite 10 percent of some country's youngest engineers outnumber America's top 50 percent.
"For years, American students have challenged the rest of the world through the ICPC to measure up, and they have," Poucher said. "They've caught up and now they're sending a message back to the American students that we need to work harder."
The ACM-ICPC started in 1970 as a competition at Texas A&M, but quickly gained popularity as a way to challenge the top computer science students within the U.S. and Canada. ICPC has since evolved into a global contest with regional competitions that advance teams to the world finals. ICPC has been headquartered at Baylor since 1989.
News conference video can be found at http://www.baylortv.com/video.php?id=001014