2006 South Central USA Regional Programming Contest
You might wonder what is going on and why the changes. LSU has enjoyed hosting the regional contest as a single site since 2000. And then last year we shifted to two sites (Thanks UTA!).
So why change? Times change. Circumstances change. In the past, our region was small enough that the various schools could send a team to the regional each year. Back then, a school had to work very hard to train a team. Interest in computing has exploded. Schools can field multiple quality teams. But it costs a lot of money to send multiple teams across this region. So, to provide more students an opportunity to compete, the regional has transitioned to a distributed contest.
Last year in our welcome message we predicted:
"Over time, we anticipate sites in Oklahoma, west Texas, central Texas and east Texas join LSU to host a distributed contest for this region. As this evolves, the contest will probably shift to a single day event instead of the current two days of activities. This change is being made to help our region grow its participation. So start preparing more students for future contests."
Well the response was so overwhelming to the UTA site that we sped up the distributed part of the contest and found volunteers willing to work hard with us to develop contest sites at their school. We are hoping these schools will host the sites for at least two years. However, if your school is interested in hosting 15 to 30 teams please let us know.
This year, as in years past, our goal is to host a contest that will be the ultimate warm-up for the ACM International Programming Contest. The winner from this contest will advance to the 2007 International Programming Contest (and maybe other teams depending on the number of schools that participate, the number of teams that compete, and the number of teams that solve at least one problem). In 2005 we had only one team promoted to the final. The way to two or more teams promoted to the final is to register early, bring in new schools, current attending school bring an extra team and everyone solve lots and lots of problems.
This regional contest consists of a lot of different groups. Officially it includes three complete states and a part of another. We have schools that have graduate programs and schools that don't. We have males and females here. We have numerous nationalities. We have students who are majoring in a number of different areas. Some have practiced for a long time to get here - others much less. But we all are interested in computing, in working together, in transcending differences and furthering the future that computing can bring to all of us.
This contest is a chance for each of the contestants to test their skills at comprehension, analysis, problem solving, coding, debugging, resource management, self control, and communication. This is also a chance for coaches to measure the effectiveness of their teaching and leadership.
On Saturday, we will crown a number of specific champions:
Regardless of who takes which titles, everyone here will be a winner! Each student will have won by gaining the experience of working as part of a team to accomplish a goal. Each coach will have won by having the opportunity to work with bright, motivated students. Each team that practiced and competed will have already won the right to represent their school. Each university and college will have won through being represented by their teams and coaches. Our region will have won via the excellent skill and good sportsmanship that will occur.
The metric will not be how many problems you solve. It will not be where you finish in the final standings. I am sure many will point at these, but success will be best measured by how much of your potential you achieve and how effective you function as a team. Remember - you will go home with your team members.
Along with being a host for this contest, I am also a coach, and now I am going to tell you what I have told the LSU students who have worked hard for the chance to compete in this contest:
You should all stop and realize that you are already winners. You have already been chosen to represent your school. This means that you have shown ability, a willingness to work for an important goal, and a desire to do your best. Just being here means that you have made it to the semi-finals!
This year IBM is actively recruiting resumes for internships and permanent positions. While we are not sure if we will have recruiters several of our judges are from IBM and they will take all of your resumes back to IBM with them. When you get to the contest you will turn your resume in to the site director. I am thinking a cd from each team with that team and alternate's resume would be a good way to handle this. There may be some electronic games to play with your resumes to get them to our judges so and electronic format would be best. Make sure you have your career services department look at your resume before you decide it is your final version!
Once again, we thank each student, coach, site director, university staff and faculty and volunteers that participate to make this contest possible. Thank YOU for competing and making this contest necessary!
We have tried to make this contest less of a hassle for the teams and the coaches by providing systems for each team. This solves many problems:
With any luck, the contestants will have a good night's sleep before the contest (one of the reasons that practice ends at 10:00 PM). By the way, the labs that we will be using are all public access student labs (normally) or computerized classrooms. You will have plenty of room to do your work.
We hope that you also agree that the many advantages of this environment outweigh the few disadvantages (if you don't agree yet, think about gathering all your stuff up after the contest :).
Friday will include check-in, open practice, official welcome, and the formal covering of the rules (and maybe more if we can figure out how).
Each team member and coach will receive a t-shirt (team members must wear their shirts during the contest on Saturday). We will have prizes for the top spots and we hope to continue the tradition of a prize for each team that is the first to solve a problem.
Once again, welcome! If we can do anything for you, please ask.