TRAINING ICPC TEAMS - Lessons Learned

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TRAINING ICPC TEAMS - Lessons Learned

IT IS ALL ABOUT PASSION!!!

My experience is from a public, government maintained university, UFPE, which is located in one of the poorest parts of Brazil, a developing Country with serious education problems. Along the years, we have built a tradition of standing among the best teams in the Latin America Region. Everyone wants to know our secret. Of course there is a lot of personal talent and long work hours involved, but I have no doubt that the most important ingredient for our success in the ICPC is passion!

ICPC brings out the best in our students! They wake up early, work after hours, help each other out, teach the newcomers, encourage those who are not doing so great, they build each other’s hopes with their accomplishments. They want to leave a legacy behind, when they depart for a successful carrier in a rewarding job, so they develop libraries of problems discussion and possible solutions, and they also prepare classes on elaborate, popular data structures, computational strategies, and types of problems that one can encounter.

How do we pass this passion on? No sweat! It is highly contagious. It all starts in the freshman year, when they come to college for a new learning adventure and discover that they can conquer the world. We encourage our students to try it out, and we offer them guidance and support throughout the training process. Many will be “caught” by the fever, they will roll their sleeves and start working. The interested students have opportunity to hang out with the more experienced ones, and they will build each other up. In our case, that is not hard, since there is a lot of work to be done. That includes weekly contests; they meet every Saturday for training, throughout the entire year (with only a few exceptions), then eat together, and go on discussing problem solving strategies.

Our consistent success in the ICPC competitions has caught the attention of several high tech industries, and we now have a large number of alumni working for world known companies, besides the ones who have opened their own technology business or chosen academic carriers.

Sharing knowledge and enthusiasm will do the trick! This is the 11th time that Team UFPE is in the ICPC Finals in the last 18 years, and we hope that the tradition will keep going on and on.