Riverside City College hosts annual programming competition

By Kenia Marrufo

Riverside City College hosted the annual SoCal International Computer Programing Contest for its 19th year in the Martin Luther King Learning Center on Nov. 10. 

The competition contest consisted of teams from around Southern California to compete in groups of three, having access to one computer within a group and trying to solve multiple problems in only five hours. RCC  has become a stable home for the ICPC competition since 2000. The sponsors for the competition are JetBrains and Two Sigma.

Throughout the contest, the atmosphere remained quiet and serious unlike other competitions where cheering is encouraged.

“It’s a sporting event for the mind,” director Ed Skochinski said.

RCC had three teams enter the contest which are iOstream, 3nPlus1 and the Bloolean Babes.

“This is the first year that we actually have, out of our three teams, an all-female team,” coach and event host Mark Lehr said, “I’m super happy that we have maintained a full on team, they are really enthused to be here.”

According to Lehr, the gender diversity in STEM programs and computer classes range from 10-20 percent female and 80 percent male. This year alone has been the highest percentage of women competing in the contest.

“We have 15 percent of the registered contestants are women this year, that is a record for us, obviously it’s not 50/50, but it’s a big improvement over where we have been in the years past,” register Donna Furon said.

According to timeline.com, the percentage of women in computer science programs had fallen to 17 percent by 2011. Today, just 6.7 percent of women get a degree in science, technology, engineering or math, compared to 17 percent of men.

For many women, computer science is not always the first choice when it comes to majors, but surprisingly it has caught interest in more women today. “I was more interested in learning languages like Japanese, Latin and then someone told me to try computer science because it’s a new type of language that you are learning so that’s when I started getting into coding,” Bloolean Babes team member Daisy Garcia said.

As a former business analyst, Furon said she seeks change within the western culture for more women to engage into the field study of computer science to ignore and remain committed so they can, “stay away from the model that tells girls, that’s not something they oughta do.”

Only a few women coaches were present in the competition and most of them constantly encourage all students to participate to benefit their academic path into success.

“I want to see more students competing and getting the experience,” coach Doina Bein said. “I started computer science ever since I was 14, so I love it and I could not do anything else.”

For the all-women team, the Bloolean Babes, the computer programming competition scene is all new to them but, has yet to intimidate them for future competitions due to their strong support system.

“I feel like the advisers and professors are super supportive and very encouraging and are very willing to go out of their way to make sure that we are well accommodating,” Bloolean Babes team member Nichole Medero said. “We are so lucky to have so much supportive people around us and most which are men and also we have each other to support one another.”

The competition ended at 8:15 p.m. with an award ceremony hosted in the RCC cafeteria. Most competitors shared with other teams the difficulty of the problems. The Bloolean Babes said they were not discouraged about not winning, but were more thrilled for the next competition.

“Don’t be intimidated, even if our skill sets are different they are definitely going to be people there to be accepting and willingly to help you,” Bloolean Babes team member Savannah Torres said.