By Alexander Vazhenin, Assistant Professor of Software Engineering Lab
Contests of different kinds are an important part of the educational process in leading universities of the world. This improves the student professional experience and makes the university life be more interesting and attractive. The University of Aizu should also focus on improving the educational process and making it be more challenging and competitive. That is why the software department established the Contest Working Group consisting of Professors M. Osano (Chairman), A. Belyaev, and A. Vazhenin. This group analyzed the situation and proposed a plan of activity on organizing programming contests at the University of Aizu. This plan also includes participating our teams in International contests and, first of all, in the ACM Programming Contest.
The ACM Programming Contest is a very popular competition. From thousands of teams competing in the regional contests held from September to December (every year) worldwide, about sixty teams will advance to the World Finals. We have established the WWW-site (http://sparth/ACMcontest) containing information about contest rules, links to sites of regional contests in Asia as well as a huge set of past problems. To prepare student teams to the contest participation, it is good to have special lectures, seminars, and exercises. Moreover, it would be nice to establish a special course on Algorithms and Programming aimed to prepare our students for participation in such contests. This course could be offered in the first semester of the next year. Some budget should be required to cover expenses of the student participation. Professors can also support the teams, especially, if they decided to participate in regional contests held abroad.
The Aizu University Student Contests are considered as competitions between junior, senior and master students. It is possible to have annual contests in the following fields: Algorithms and Programming, Multimedia and Internet, and Web Design. The Organizing Committees of such contests can be formed according to professional and scientific interests of our professors. We suppose also that the contest organization should be considered on the level the teaching load. The student participation should be also motivated by awarding special prizes and/or certificates. The university contests could be a ``serious" subject extending the teaching courses and providing some fun. Some of them could be a part of the University festival program. In this case, the variety of contests can be increased by Internet-search contest, Computer music competition, etc. We plan to start the contest activity in this year.