On March 16, more than 143 students from 23 high schools came to the Harker campus for the third annual Harker Invitational Programming Contest. The event pits teams of three students against each other in two challenge rounds of problem-solving and programming.
The Harker Invitational is the only high school programming contest in the Bay Area that is organized and run by high school students. Harker junior Divyahans Gupta, grade 11, and seniors Lynda Tang, Maddie Dawson and Wilbur Yang led the effort which included fundraising, problem writing, generating the scoring software, getting a keynote speaker and organizing a college fair.
The event was originally created by Christine Chen ’10 in order to provide a forum that lets students interested in computer science, especially girls, compete. Many schools lack a computer science program, especially schools in economically disadvantaged areas. Even in affluent areas, many schools lack a CS program. One key objective of the contest is to give these students an outlet for their interest in computing.
This year’s contest attracted students from throughout the Bay Area, including San Francisco and Albany.
Registration for the contest filled almost immediately. Given the demand, the Programming Club hopes to increase the number of teams by about 15 percent next year. In addition to competing in the programming contest, students were treated to an amazing interactive talk by Dr. Dan Garcia of the University of California, Berkeley, who spoke about his research in game theory. The auditorium in Nichols Hall was filled with students who participated in several activities orchestrated by Garcia that illustrated his work. The students were spellbound and participated eagerly.
Following lunch in the Edge catered by Harker chef Danae McLaughlin, participants visited with professors from the University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara University, Stanford University and Carnegie Mellon University. Dr. Tom Cortina of CMU commented on how well the contest was run and said that he is looking forward to being invited to next year’s contest; he said it was well worth the trip from Pittsburgh.
The contest was made possible by generous donations from the Harker parent community and SanDisk. The officers and members of the Programming Club are to be congratulated for another overwhelmingly successful day of computer science.