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Student team from LAU wins 1st university programming contest in Lebanon


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Lebanese Collegiate Programming Competition participants solving the programming problems prepared by experts.


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The members of the winning team, LAU Sailors. From left: Kamal Mahmassani, Raja Baz and Ahmad Al Shami.


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Dr. Samer Habre (left), chair of LAU's Department of Computer Science and Mathematics and LAU Assistant Professor Faisal Abu Khzam (right), chairperson of the LCPC organizing committee, near the registration desk right before the contest.


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The 15 teams that participated in the first Lebanese Collegiate Programming Contest at LAU's Beirut campus.

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July 22, 2009—

At the first Lebanese Collegiate Programming Competition, which gathered 15 teams from nine universities across Lebanon at LAU Beirut’s campus from July 2–3, one of the three LAU student teams, the LAU Sailors, won the first place.

The three-member student teams were given five hours to solve nine programming problems prepared by experts from Lebanon and Egypt.

The LAU Sailors emerged victorious from heated competition. Its three members, Ahmad Al Shami, Raja Baz and Kamal Mahmassani, solved five of the problems, while the AUB Engineers came in second place, having finished only two problems.

The members of the LAU Sailors “had the talent and the experience. They have been participating in competitions like this at the international level, so it was easy for them to focus and win,” says their coach Dr. Faisal Abu Khzam, assistant professor at LAU’s Department of Computer Science and Mathematics.

The department organized the contest with the close supervision of the Association of Computing Machinery–International Collegiate Programming Contest through the direct involvement of Dr. Ziad Najem, ICPC director for the Arab region.

“It is a great achievement for us to be able to organize such an event for the first time in Lebanon,” says Dr. Samer Habre, chair of LAU’s Department of Computer Science and Mathematics.

AUB, Beirut Arab University, Balamand University, Notre Dame University, Hariri Canadian University, Lebanese University and Saint Joseph University sent their best students, accompanied by coaches, to participate in the contest, in addition to the LAU teams.

“Everybody was pleased with the organization. We are still receiving e-mails of congratulation from other universities,” says Abu Khzam, who led the organizing committee, consisting of engineering and computer science professors from various universities in Lebanon.

Abu Khzam believes that the success might help LAU host the regional contest in the future.

Al Shami, Baz and Mahmassani are already preparing for this year’s Arab and North Africa Regional Programming Contest, an annual competition established 10 years ago. The regional contest, which is a qualifying round to ACM–ICPC, is to take place in Alexandria, Egypt, in November.

Baz, a computer engineering senior student in Byblos, says he is very excited about the victory and their upcoming trip, and he knows that winning academic competitions can help him get a scholarship for a master’s degree abroad.

According to Abu Khzam, such contests can enhance students’ career opportunities and the LAU team’s success should motivate other students to excel in the field. “These competitions are there to make them work more in programming. It is, after all, the backbone of any computing field. And they can put the achievements in their CVs,” he says.

At the dinner held in honor of the participants at Bristol Hotel, Dr. Najem and Adonis Al Fakih, CEO of Ayna Corporation, which sponsored the competition, were recognized for their support.


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