IT ROMANCE – The American University of Cairo finnished in the top half, 47th, at the 32nd Annual ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest in Banff, Alberta this week. They may have not won the top prize, but Khaled Hafez, left, and Soha Hassan can look to many years of happiness. The couple is engaged and plan to follow a career in IT acadamia. I bet their kids will also be next-gen ACM-ICPC finalists too. Maybe team member Remoun Hafez, right, will be the best man!
The male-dominated contest at the ACM ICPC contest in Banff, Alberta, Canada underscored the shrinking female attendance in IT.
“Where have all the women gone?” asked executive contest director, Bill Poucher, professor of Computing Science, Baylor University.
They were there, all five of them, amid 295 guys.
“I’ve always been around computers and math,” said University of Cape Town team member Tamara von Glehn, whose parents have a math and physics background. “My sister competes in computing events too.”
She can’t figure out why more women don’t pursue math and science. “But it’s cool to be here, around other people who are so good at what they do,” she said.
Soha Hassan from the American University of Cairo didn’t take being here for granted. “I am a hard worker, many of the other women did not want to put the effort in for this competition,” she said.
But a round table discussion with event organizers noted the overall shrinking IT school attendance posed a serious shortage of qualified workers, including Canada.
“People don’t understand why we hire so many IT workers from countries like India,” said Jonathan Schaeffer, chairman of computing science at the U of A.
He expressed concern over a 60 per cent attendance drop at the U of A Computing Science program since the .Com era in 2001.
“We are willing to create heroes from people with physical attributes and pay them millions to entertain us,” he said. . “But we don’t celebrate or appreciate mental muscles.”
He thinks that unless computing science enrollments jump up soon, there will be a shortage of IT workers in Canada for the next five years.
“IT will play an increasingly important role in every aspect of what we do, with no geographic boundaries,” said Poucher. “It’s important to not only value how smart IT students are today but to also arm them with social skills.”
See my main story on the event which saw a DOS attack launched by one of the teams during the event practice session. www.canada.com/topics/technology/columnists/makris.html
Check out my stevoidstickcam walkthrough during the Battle of the Brains ACM-ICPC showdown: