Creating a culture of programming competition in the University using motivation, free online tools.

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Rafael Niquefa.png

Rafael Niquefa

World Finals contestant in 2011 and 2012 and coach in world finals in 2013 and 2014

Creating a culture of programming competition in the University using motivation, free online tools.

In this talk we will discuss the process of creating and maintaining a culture of competition in programming contest at a College level in the National University of Colombia. I will share the story of going from a small group of five individuals participating in the ACMICPC National and Regional stages and having a chance of going to the World Finals, to the actual state of the programming competition group in our University where we have over 70 people training and working to get better, our best team is the current all Latin America Champion, an accomplishment made for first time for a Colombian team. In the National University of Colombia, the process concerning its participation in programming competition at a Distrital, National, Regional and World level has been evolving since 2008, year in which only five student were participating in events like ICPC contest at a National and Regional level. The process of becoming a large and growing group of people interested and succeeding in programming competitions at a National level has various reasons, all of which will be mentioned in the proposed talk:

  • Motivation.
    • Sport-like motivation.
    • Career and student profile improvement motivation.
  • Design, implementation and use of a methodological guide for beginners, with selected topics, tutoring, and a competition based scheme. This guide is available only in spanish sadly. Uses the google-docs technology to save and explain the steps for beginners,so is always available online.
  • Use of online tools, and sites.
  • Training camps using free tools and problems available online.
  • Contest at an institutional and a National level.
  • Establishment and maintaining a link between the very young competitors at high school level and the best contestants at a college level.
  • The creation and consolidation of the Colombian Collegiate Programming League ( and our participation on it.

The main idea of the talk then, is tell the history, and explain how we used available free online tools, sport-like motivation, a methodological guide using available information and problems online, to motivate and increase the number of student contestants in programming contest in the National University of Colombia.

We think that by knowing our experience, could be coaches worldwide that could use similar strategies and tools to increase the number and level of students contestants in programming competitions.