(Note: Day 2 was Monday, May 18th, but this is being posted on Tuesday, May 19th)
First and foremost, the ICPC is a serious competition. But the World Finals are about more than just competing. While the grueling 5-hour contest will take place on Wednesday, the 384 World Finalists (128 teams of three) are treated to some fantastic educational and cultural activities that help make this a true once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
The IBM Morocco Hackathon Activity is an exciting new component of the event. This activity provides a pressure-free outlet for the competing students to hone their programming skills in a fun and interactive way. Hackathon participants will be using IBM Bluemix technologies to develop applications that can be used to solve specific challenges related to helping engage students, parents, and civil society to help make schools a better place.
The students will have direct access to talented IBM technology experts while they learn about IBM Bluemix and the services available for them to use to design and develop their programs. While some students may begin coding during their spare time while at the ICPC, they will have until the end of June 2015 to submit their programs for judging. Winners of the Hackathon will be offered mentorship and eligibility to apply for cool Internships or full-time jobs at IBM.
Art Francis, Program Director of IBM Innovation, had this to say: "We have successfully held similar hackathon events across Africa, in Nigeria, Tunisia, Egypt and South Africa, where we engage university students in education, ideation and experimentation, resulting in innovation around a specific societal theme. We look forward to seeing what kind of innovation and creativity can be generated when you bring the best and brightest ICPC students together to help create opportunities for others who could follow in their footsteps."
This morning, IBM also conducted its annual TechTrek, an interactive presentation designed to share insights into important evolving technologies. Hopefully the students paid attention, because the TechTrek theme, cloud computing, was chosen with the students’ career aspirations explicitly in mind.
But don’t just take my word for it! Gerald Lane, the ACM-ICPC Sponsorship Executive and Director of IBM Open Technologies & IP, said that "according to industry analysts, nearly half of enterprises will have hybrid cloud deployments by 2017, making this a rapidly growing field with tremendous employment opportunities for the students competing at this year’s contest."
After TechTrek, the ICPC Opening Ceremony officially kicked off the event, followed by a fun excursion to some of Marrakech’s great attractions. It was a great day, but the 95+ F temperatures made it exhausting. Time to get some rest!
Chas Kurtz is CACM's on-site blogger at ICPC.