Championships and Olympiads — between sessions
<img class="imgr" alt="" src="http://www.belarus-magazine.by/belen/data/upimages/2009/0001-009-482.jpg">[b]Many domestic and foreign IT companies look at Belarusian students as potential future programmers, while they are still studying[/b]<br />How are the first Soviet space shuttle ‘Buran’ and Belarus connected? I think this question would puzzle many people, including experts from the popular TV game ‘What? Where? When?’. The answer is quite simple: Belarusian specialists participated in the development of the automatic landing program of the Soviet shuttle which enabled ‘Buran’ to land safely in Baikonur. That first flight was, unfortunately, the shuttle’s last. But that is another story.
How are the first Soviet space shuttle ‘Buran’ and Belarus connected? I think this question would puzzle many people, including experts from the popular TV game ‘What? Where? When?’. The answer is quite simple: Belarusian specialists participated in the development of the automatic landing program of the Soviet shuttle which enabled ‘Buran’ to land safely in Baikonur. That first flight was, unfortunately, the shuttle’s last. But that is another story.
Ever since the Soviet Union times, Belarus was famous for engineering stuff and the best groundwork in the field of information technology. The creation of the landing program for ‘Buran’ is clear evidence of this fact, as is the fact that the first personal computer in the Soviet Union, the EU-1840, was produced at Minsk Production Association of Computer Engineering.
There have always been a great number of talented people in the sphere of IT technology. There are a lot of them today, and many examples of it. We should not forget that a couple of years ago, our country received a status of a space nation, operating the first Belarusian satellite and employing hundreds of specialists to work on the creation of it, including the best programmers.
The professionalism and competence of the Belarusian IT workers has not diminished over the years. Basic confirmation of that are the Viktories of students of native universities at many prestigious international competitions in programming. For example, last summer, Belarusian representatives won prizes in the finals of the IT-Planet International Olympiad. A graduate student of the Belarusian State University of Informatics and Radioelectronics, Ilya Sibiryatkin won first prize, and students of the Brest State Technical University, Andrey Klimovich and Vadim Blinkovsky, were awarded the third prize.
A lot of people have written about the achievements and Viktories of another Belarusian, Gennady Korotkevich, who studies today at St. Petersburg National Research University. Born in Gomel, he attracted the attention of specialists to his personality, not when he was a student, but during his school years. Today, Gennady is a participant and a winner of many prestigious tournaments, and last year he took gold at the Yandex Algorithm Open Programming Championship, which involved more than three thousand computer geeks from 84 countries.
Belarusians can also boast Viktories in team competitions. For example, students of the Belarusian State University recently won the silver medal at the prestigious World Programming Championship. This World Championship is worth mentioning separately. About 30,000 students, from more than 120 universities of 91 countries participated in the qualifying rounds. In the finals, where teams from 120 universities of 36 countries took part, passions ran high. But the students of the Faculty of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science of the Belarusian State University, Roman Udovichenko, Andrey Malevich and Sergey Zhgirovsky managed to charge into the lead, overtaking opponents from Stanford University and the University of Massachusetts, both recognised leaders in programming.
Roman Udovichenko and Sergey Zhgirovsky, with whom I was able to meet and talk, said that to win a ‘silver medal’ was not easy for the team. For more than a year, the guys were getting ready for the championship, attending at least one, five-hour training session per week. In addition, they had to attend other training sessions, to prepare for diploma defence and pass state examinations, because at that time they were in their final year at university.
Eleven tasks, five hours, one computer were the conditions of the Championship. During this time they needed to solve the maximum amount of tasks proposed. “The opponents were very serious, because they have all gone through regional selections, which means that the championship was attended by the best teams from around the world,” said Roman.
Roman finished regular secondary school, and many times participated in the International Olympiads on Informatics. During his studies at the BSU, he twice reached the finals of the international competition in programming, the TopCoder Open, held in the United States, and was twice among the finalists of the Russian Code Cup Championship, held in Moscow by Mail.ru. Before entering the universities, both Sergey and Andrey studied at the BSU Lyceum, attending Physics and Mathematics, and participated in school competitions.
Roman is convinced that the potential of Belarusian students is no worse than that of their peers from other countries. According to him, in order to succeed, one must develop one’s own abilities, and it is obligatory to participate in various contests, competitions and conferences.
The Belarusian medal holders successfully graduated from their ‘alma mater’ and now work in prestigious companies connected with, who would have doubted it, IT. Sergey Zhgirovsky and Roman Udovichenko apply their knowledge in the Minsk office of the Yandex subsidiary, YandexBel. Andrey Malevich moved to the USA to work for Facebook, receiving an offer to work there during his studies at the Belarusian State University.
“But that does not mean that our participation in the Olympiads is over. International competitions are held each year for all programmers of the world, not just the students,” Roman Udovichenko explained.
Not too far off, I think, Viktories will come to other talented Belarusians in such competitions. IT technologies in Belarus and throughout the world are growing rapidly, and need high-class specialists today. Therefore, both domestic and foreign companies are hunting for them. And often, seeing the potential of students, offer them a job, even when they have not yet graduated. The most important thing for an employer is not a ‘document’, but real knowledge and skills.
Many Belarusian programmers, who got excellent knowledge in higher educational institutions of the country, successfully work for many prestigious companies around the world, including Yandex, Mail.ru, Facebook and Google.
By Yuri Chernyakevich
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