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Free Travel Is the Main Perk for IEEE Programming Contest’s Winners

The students attend an IEEE conference of their choice

2 min read

three young men standing underneath a large sign that reads “ICCV23 Paris” and “Google DeepMind”

The winning team from the 2022 IEEE Xtreme competition traveled to Paris to attend the 2023 International Conference on Computer Vision.

Hiệp Lê Bảo

EnergyIsNotOver, a team that competed in IEEEXtreme 17.0, placed first in October’s competition. The team is from Ukraine’s Kharkiv National University of Radioelectronics.

The annual IEEEXtreme programming competition is a 24-hour virtual contest in which teams of up to three IEEE student members compete to solve a set of computer coding problems.

Ranking second was HCMUSSmokinTomatoes from the University of Science, Viet Nam National University Ho Chi Minh City (HCMUS). 0GBRAM from the National Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Ukraine, placed third.

The competition has been growing steadily since it launched in 2006, when 40 teams participated. Last year nearly 5,700 teams competed. Close to 17,000 IEEE student members registered for the event. That’s more than 10 percent of the entire IEEE student member population, which at the time was approximately 140,000.

In addition to bragging rights and an IEEEXtreme T-shirt, each member of the first-place team gets an all-expenses-paid trip to an IEEE conference of their choice.

Benefits of attending an IEEE conference

Getting to attend an IEEE conference is the real prize, many students say.

“Traveling to any IEEE conference in the world is not something that most students would be able to afford on their own,” says Phyllis Caputo, senior manager of IEEE’s member programs. “Past winners who attended one found inspiration to further their education and explore academic and professional possibilities they may not have considered before. These events also offer an opportunity to network with potential mentors.”

HCMUSBurnedTomatoes—the HCMUS team that won the 2022 competition—traveled to Paris last year to attend the annual International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV).

“IEEEXtreme 16.0 was the best competition I have ever participated in,” says Hiệp Lê Bảo, the team’s leader. “Winning was genuinely unexpected.”

At various points in the competition, Lê Bảo says, “My team was not even ranked in the top five, because we could not solve some problems. But we persisted and solved one problem after another.

“We were ranked second after 22 hours, having solved all of the released problems, but slower than an Indonesian team, which was ranked first. It was the final problem that gave us the championship.”

The last 30 minutes of the competition were nerve-wracking, he says, and winning it was one of the happiest moments of his life.

The team members chose ICCV because it is one of the top computer vision conferences in the world, Lê Bảo says, adding that the event covered a wide variety of topics such as image processing, object detection, scene understanding, and video analysis.

“I met some Ph.D. candidates and learned more about the life of a doctoral student,” he says. “They all said that a Ph.D. can be very stressful but worth it because you get to develop cutting-edge solutions for various problems, and you get a much better sense of achievement when your papers are accepted at top conferences.”

The event was a transformative moment, he says, and has helped him prepare for the future.

“Before going to ICCV 2023, I was not sure what to do after my undergraduate studies,” he says, “but getting to experience a top conference firsthand and seeing all the fascinating research really inspired me to pursue a doctoral degree in computer vision.”

For more information about the IEEEXtreme worldwide computer coding competition visit its website.

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