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Not programmed to win

The dismal performance at a recent programming contest could be indicative of Indian students’ inability to take global competitors head-on.

education Updated: Jul 16, 2013 14:57 IST
Vandana Ramnani

Indian students are brought up on the engineering or the medical dream. Those who manage to find a seat in the prestigious IITs or medical colleges are considered the best of the lot. What happens then, when you see these talented youngsters finding themselves completely out of their depth at an international competition, pitted against some of the best young global tech talent?

The 37th annual world finals of the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) held recently at St Petersburg, Russia, got tech brains around the world for some quick and creative thinking.

About 120 teams from across the globe, including five from India, had to solve computer programming problems under a strict five-hour deadline. They were selected from among three lakh students who cleared the regional levels in 91 countries spread across six continents.

The Indian boys were ranked 60, 76 and 94. This year's theme was big data - applying analytics technology to big data - a major economic growth engine and career opportunity worldwide.

When questioned about the ranking, the Indian teams said that even though they solved over a thousand problems, they perhaps did not practise well enough, did not have a structured training programme and needed to participate in more events at the national level to compete and assess themselves.

There is something else altogether, however, in doing well in contests where you have to battle it out with the best brains in the world. “By participating in a contest like this, participants learn raw programming skills, time management, risk management, visualisation, collaboration - skills that will continue to be nurtured if they are taken on board by companies,” says Doug Heintzman, director of strategy for IBM software group and sponsorship executive of the ICPC.

Teams from India

Chennai Mathematical Institute
IIT - Bombay
IIT - Indore
IIT - Roorkee
International Institute of Information Technology - Hyderabad

Chennai Mathematical Institute
IIT - Delhi
IIT - Kanpur
IIT - Madras
International Institute of Information Technology - Hyderabad

DJ Sanghvi College of Engineering
IIT - Delhi
IIT - Kanpur
International Institute of Information Technology - Hyderabad

DJ Sanghvi College of Engineering Team: Phoenix
International Institute of Information Technology - Hyderabad Team:TheKingsGambit
NIT, TrichyTeam: