18 August 2004
Egypt Launches Second Olympiad in Informatics

Modeled on the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI), Egypt’s own computer programming competition, the EOI, enters its second year this September.

The Egyptian Olympiad in Informatics (EOI) is an annual competition in information technology and programming – held under the auspices of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) and Technology and Marine Transport (AAST)– in which participants compete in solving various real-life problems using computer algorithms and basic IT skills.

Contestants, aged six to twenty – covering students from elementary and high school as well as university students – come from governorates across the country. This year, ten governorates are taking part in the competition, up from four in 2003.

The contest consists of a series of questions and problems, which participants are asked to solve using methodical thinking and computer algorithms. The first level includes mathematical questions while the second involves more complicated tasks, such as dynamic programming, minimum spanning trees, computational geometry and network flow problems. Yet, in addition to testing participants’ computer skills, the Olympiad works to boost social and cultural integration between towns and cities across the country.

The first EOI, held in Alexandria in September 2003, saw 60 contestants competing to show their IT skills and another 60 vying for the position of best programmer. The event also included competitions for 20 children, aged between four and seven, and 20 deaf-mute contestants. This year’s EOI will incorporate visually impaired participants too, who will receive training on the latest edition of the bilingual “Ibsar” program. Ibsar allows the visually impaired to complete with ease a variety of computer-related tasks, including reading printed books and documents as well as electronic files. The program also enables users to write in both Arabic and English, save and print texts in Braille, access the Internet and manage e-mail.

In order to complete their assignments, EOI contestants are provided with the latest technology. Computers are powered by Intel Pentium processors running at 1000 MHz with 256MB RAM while installed software includes Windows XP, Turbo C++ Version 3.0, GNU–GCC and Visual Basic.

“We were trained on the hardware and software before the competition started,” Hamza Fawzy, winner of the 2003 EOI said, referring to training sessions provided at the MCIT Internet Technology Clubs (ITCs).

Through the EOI, MCIT has given young people a chance to explore, expand and realize their dreams. Not only does the competition pave the way for a well-resourced IT marketplace in Egypt, but it aims to establish an innovative, technologically empowered generation.

“I don’t know yet what my future will revolve around, but I know that I will definitely integrate my love of computers and IT into my work,” said Fawzy. For now, last year’s winner has his hopes set high for the international Olympiad. “I have won the national Olympiad, and am very hopeful that I will win the international one in Greece this year,” he said.

In line with the government’s plan to increase the use of technology in Egypt, the EOI stands as an ideal launch pad, developing the future generation’s knowledge and resources, and giving the young space to develop and display their creativity. http://www.mcit.gov.eg/eoi/main.asp

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