While the host university St Petersburg National Research University of Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics won the world’s smartest trophy as well as awards and offers of employment, or internship from IBM at ICPC 2013 held in St Petersburg recently, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, The University of Tokyo and National Taiwan University finished second, third and fourth respectively.
Kaushik Iska, an ICPC participant from IIIT Hyderabad says his team could not get a lot of time to prepare for the contest in their third year at college because of internships. “Since we had our placements and this being the last year of our respective college lives, we slacked off a bit and didn’t practice much. This should’ve been the time we should’ve worked harder.”
Participants from IIT Mumbai, most of them third year students of BTech, started preparing for the event in December, taking time off during weekends, usually on their own. Their coach, Sharat Chandran, says that while there are many coaching centres for the JEE, there are hardly any training opportunities for children who are passionate about programming within the country. The school education system does not prepare them for an international
contest like this one.
The team from IIT Roorkee, that secured the 60th rank, the best among the Indians, used the winter break to get ready for the contest. “One needs to be a lot more smarter to do well at this event and work harder than one would even the IIT entrance,” says Tarun Goyal from IIT Bombay.
Also, if programming is introduced as part of the curriculum both at the school and college level, “we can definitely do well at an event like this,” he says.
Anudhyan Borai from the Chennai Mathematical Institute, says that there is a huge difference in the level of “our preparation and theirs (the top scorers). I feel we are not motivated enough and lack training in the field. Our textbook approach does not help either.”
Students from IIT Indore also say they should have worked harder for the contest.”There is a need for a programming culture in our country,” says Achit Karandikar.
Programming forms barely 20% of the total curriculum at IITs. Other subjects are given more weightage,” says professor Rajib Mall of IIT Kharagpur, adding there is a need for such a competition at the national level.