This is the VOA Special English Education Report, from http://voaspecialenglish.com In February, students from one hundred three universities in eighty-eight countries took part in an international computer programming contest. It was called The Battle of the Brains. The competition took place in Harbin, China. Three-person teams from each school had five hours to solve eleven real world problems. Jerry Cain coached the team from Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. He says the problems involved, among other things, paperweights, robots, castles and lakes. The students first listed the problems in order of difficulty. Then they figured out the requirements of each. They designed ways to test their solutions. And they wrote the needed software systems. The winning team was from Shanghai Jiaotong University in China. But even that team was not able to solve all the problems within the given time limit. Stanford's team solved five problems and finished in fourteenth place. Stanford was one of twenty-one American universities that took part in the contest this year. The official name of the Battle of the Brains is the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest. It began in nineteen seventy at Texas A and M University. The contest quickly became popular in the United States and Canada. It developed and grew as more and more schools took part in local and area contests. The first final competition was held in nineteen seventy-seven at the Association for Computer Machinery Computer Science Conference. Today, a network of universities holds area competitions that send the winners to the world finals, now organized by IBM. Contest spokesman Doug Heintzman says the world champions receive prizes and scholarships. They are also guaranteed an offer of employment or internship with IBM. He said past world champions are now working on some of the leading edge materials in science and physics. One world finalist from China has been working on the Watson Supercomputer. So this competition is a chance to be recognized and to work for some of the top technology and research companies around the world. And that's the VOA Special English Education Report. You can read all our reports and send comments to our newly re-designed Web site at voaspecialenglish.com. (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 11Mar2010)
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