A call to arms in computer programming | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 26, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, October 26, 2017

A call to arms in computer programming

Bangladesh Advanced Computing Society (BACS) was recently established to promote competitive programming and to bring about excellence and enrichment in the field of programming in Bangladesh. It is spearheaded by its Chairman, Dr. Mohammad Kaykobad, Professor of Computer Science and Engineering department, BUET. 

ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest (ACM-ICPC) is a prominent programming contest which possesses a large participation of thousands of students from hundreds of universities spanning over six continents. First promoted as a multi-tiered programming competition in 1977, it is so well-known and prestigious that the top scorers are hired by the best tech companies in the world. Generally, students that participate in ACM-ICPC are specially trained to sustain such a tough competition. 

But the students of Bangladesh have been deprived of this opportunity, as there was no intensive programming training for many years in the country. In fact, during the last 20 years, a nationwide training was held only in three years, where only about 250 people were allowed to participate in each year. In order to rectify this situation, BACS has taken the initiative to organise regional and national level training camps for 1000 students every year. This surely will provide a magnificent opportunity for the youths of Bangladesh to showcase their distinctive skills on an international level.

The final round of ACM-ICPC is usually dominated by students of China, Russia, and the European countries as regular residential camps are conducted for them. For the first time ever in Bangladesh, BACS organised three divisional camps in Chittagong, Khulna, and Rajshahi along with a national camp in Dhaka. Dr. Shazzad Hossain, Associate Professor of North South University and the General Secretary of BACS, has played a remarkable role in this endeavour. Known as the Regional Programming Camps (RPC - 2017), these camps aimed to train the top 1000 CSE students of Bangladesh to give them the appropriate, thorough preparation needed to excel at the ICPC Finals.

The selection process to find students worthy of being trained in the camps were chosen via an online competition held on Toph, which is a sports programming platform in Bangladesh. From 103 universities throughout Bangladesh, 1792 students registered out of which 983 students were from Dhaka, 323 from Chittagong, 155 from Khulna, 137 from Sylhet, 116 from Rajshahi, 39 from Barisal, 31 from Rangpur and 8 from Mymensingh. From the registered participants, 1072 participated in the selection contest held on July 7, 2017. After the selection process, the regional camps were held. Hasnain Heickal Jami, Lecturer, University of Dhaka was acting as the Camp Coordinator of all those camps.

The first one took place in Chittagong and was organised by the BGC Trust University Bangladesh. From July 20-22, the three-day event had 82 participants. The Khulna regional camp was held at Khulna University of Engineering & Technology (KUET) from August 24-26, participated by 91 students. Rajshahi regional camp was held at University of Rajshahi from September 14-16 with 46 participating students.

Finally, the Grand National camp was held in Dhaka, from October 4-8. The camp brought together 249 eager students striving to reach excellence in programming. Bangladesh University of Business and Technology (BUBT) was welcoming enough to organise the national camp for the third time, and with the help of their Department of CSE and BUBT IT Club, BACS was able to organise a successful event. This camp had participants in Beginner (71), Intermediate (99) and Advanced (79) groups. 

It was inaugurated by the Chairman of BUBT Trust AFM Sarwar Kamal and was graced by eminent author and ICT expert Dr. Muhammad Zafar Iqbal and Prof. M Kaykobad, who was the chief guest. AFM Sarwar Kamal and Md. Shakhwat Ahamed, Head of Marketing, PRAN Foods Ltd. were present as special guests. 

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