Why I Judge the IEEEXtreme Programming Contest

The competition brings together engineering students around the world

2 October 2013

It doesn't matter how much you know, what matters is what you are doing with it. This saying always repeats in my mind. Throughout my career, I have been part of many teams both locally and globally, and one team activity in particular that I enjoy  is the IEEEXtreme 24-hour programming competition—a contest that puts knowledge to the test.

For the past four years, I have volunteered as a judge for IEEEXtreme. But more and more I found myself getting involved in other aspects of the competition. Last year I was selected by IEEE to lead a team of 30 members, including organizers and judges, to plan this year's contest.

It is one of IEEE’s most active international competitions and designed for undergraduate, graduate and Ph.D. students. Last year, the competition had more than 6 000 participants from around the world.

Words cannot describe the heat and excitement felt throughout the competition. I’ll just say that you have to experience it to understand the adrenaline rush. And participants always manage to exceed our expectations. Last year, more than 150 000 solutions were attempted by student teams around the clock to solve programming problems. After judging IEEEXtreme four years in a row, I believe that some people can learn to program, while others are born to do it.

I personally am addicted to solving problems and surrounding myself with others who enjoy the same. It takes an extreme team to prepare for IEEEXtreme. I am proud to be part of it all and hope to meet students’ expectations for this year’s competition by organizing the most exciting event I know how.

Watch IEEEXtreme in action in this video from IEEE.tv


For those looking for a mind-bending, stay-up-all night experience with other students from around the globe then this competition is for you. It will take place online starting on 26 October at 00:00 GMT and lasts a full 24 hours. Oh, and all participants receive a T-shirt.

With up to three students, the teams receive sets of programming problems every six hours, starting at 0:00 GMT. Teams work together to solve all 15 problems within a 24-hour period. They didn’t have to tackle every problem, but the more they answered, the more points they scored. Students submitted their solutions using an online competition management tool called Hacker Rank.

Points are awarded based on a problem’s difficulty. Higher-grade IEEE members, like me, serve as judges or proctors.

And if you manage to be one of the best programmers either worldwide or locally, you will receive a bigger prize for your team (and a lot of recognition).

The first prize last year was an all-expenses-paid trip to an IEEE conference of the team’s choice. The second and third place teams each received a netbook computer.

Registration is open until 11 October. To register your team, visit https://xtreme.vtools.ieee.org

achieveChowdhery Photo: Sinan Alsheikh

Sinan Alsheikh is an IEEE member and volunteer and integration architect at IBM.

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