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LAU students shine at regional programming conference

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The two LAU teams with their coach Dr. Faisal Abu Khzam (1st from right) a few minutes before the regional programming contest in Egypt, on November 24.

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The members of the two LAU student teams, Sailors and Stars, with Dr. Abu Khzam near the Library of Alexandria the day of the ANARC opening ceremony, November 23.

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LAU students near the pyramids in Egypt, November 25.

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The LAU Sailors and their coach Dr. Abu Khzam receiving their certificate during the closing ceremony, November 24.

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LAU student participants and Dr. Abu Khzam with the regional contest director, Dr. Ziad Najem (4th from left), during the closing ceremony of the regional programming contest in Egypt.

Click on any photo above to view all five images

December 7, 2009—

Alexandria — LAU’s student team, the Sailors, finished in a top-10 spot at the Arab and North Africa Regional Programming Contest, held from November 22-24 in Alexandria, Egypt.

Placing sixth among 45 teams comprised of the best student computer programmers from universities across the region, the three-member LAU Sailors team, comprised of Raja Baz, Rashad Kabbara and Amer Mouawad, impressed at this year’s annual contest hosted by the Arab Academy for Science and Technology. The event is a qualifying round to the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest.

In fact LAU made such a great impression at the event that it has been granted the opportunity to host next year’s regional ANARC-ICPC contest, to be held in November 2010. “This is quite an honor, and would give us a very high visibility in the region and worldwide,” says Dr. Samer Habre, chairperson of the Department of Computer Science and Mathematics at LAU Beirut.

Two LAU teams participated in the contest, the experienced Sailors and the junior Stars, both of which were coached by Dr. Faisal Abu Khzam, an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science and Mathematics.

“The level of skill at the contest was very high across all of the teams,” says Abu Khzam, who has been appointed by the ANARC-ICPC steering committee to be site director of next year’s contest. “The contest attracts the best programmers in the region,” he adds.

Abu Khzam explains that the fact the LAU Sailors placed sixth, not higher, is due to chance, and not necessarily a disparity in level of skill. He explains: “The third team and our team both solved six problems, but the difference was only because of timing — our students were very close to solving seven problems. And considering the first- and second-place teams solved eight problems, it shows that our students’ skills were comparable to the best students at the contest.”

Amer Mouawad, a member of the Sailors team, says it was a challenging contest. “There were tough teams, and were very well-trained — especially the Egyptian teams hosting the competition,” he says. “We realized we didn’t have enough training because we were hoping to be in the top three, not the top six,” he adds.

“I don’t feel satisfied, I was hoping for better and we weren’t far from being in the top three. We only missed one problem that we should have solved. But since it’s the first time that we made it to the top 10, it’s better than the previous participation,” adds Mouawad.

Separately, LAU’s junior team, the Stars, solved four problems, something that Habre describes as “a very promising achievement.”

The members of the junior team are Marwan Fawaz, Karim Jahed and Hussein Mohsen, all of whom have just recently completed their first year at LAU.

The LAU Sailors programming team is no stranger to success — it won the first Lebanese Collegiate Programming Competition held at LAU in July 2009, beating 15 other teams from across the country.


Read a story about computer science student Amer Mouawad, a member of the LAU Sailors team that competed in Egypt.


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