Organizer Of 2017 Rapid City Computer Programming Contest Speaks At BH Forum & Press Club

Dec 20, 2016

The 2017 ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest  is coming to Rapid City in May.
Officials say the contest is geared toward finding the best critical thinkers in the world to solve extremely complex computer coding problems.  

Dr. Dick Gowen spearheaded the project to get the ICPC to Rapid City.  He told the Black Hills Forum and Press Club in today’s technology driven world cyber security and hacking have become two major issues to address.

Gowen says one way to solve these issues is by bringing up a new generation of computing experts. He says starting computer science curriculum earlier in schools could help the U.S. create new industry.

“When you graduate from college in computer science, that’s when you get your first job and you build your experience, so why is it that we’re not able to compete with other countries that have lots and lots of experience building it? That’s the idea of jumpstarting into something that would be a new American work force,” says Gowen.

Gowen says at last year’s ICPC in Thailand, two teams from the U.S. did not do well.   He says to improve their performance the organization decided to send them to Russia, a country which does historically well at the competition.

“And they came back and told us what we need to do is start early and work in depth. Calculus is a subject that we typically think of as a part of college, and calculus is not necessarily the easiest thing to do, but in Russia, they do that at the start of high school, not at the start of college, and so we learned a lot and the way our teams are now working, they’re not just practicing, what we’re doing with them is we’re going back and making sure they understand the math and the algorithms they need, it’s changing our curriculum,” says Gowen.
 
Gowen says the two teams from South Dakota are set to represent the U.S. again during the 2017 ICPC.  He says next year’s contest plans to celebrate the culture of the U.S. while keeping innovation at the forefront.

Gowen says one challenge he continues to work on is how to accommodate air travel for around 1300 competitors who will all arrive at the same time. He says he’s confident he will work out the solution to that problem before the competition starts. 

Next year's ICPC begins on May 24 in Rapid City.

To listen to the full audio from the Black Hills Forum and Press Club Gathering on December 20, click play below.