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"At EGOI, women rule!"

First European Girls’ Olympiad in Informatics starts on an inspirational note

At 10:00 CEST on this Monday morning, girls all over the world sat in front of their screens and watched as Informatics Olympiad history was being written: The first edition of EGOI officially started with an online opening ceremony.

Viewers were welcomed to EGOI by moderator Dominique Stark and Stefanie Zbinden, chair and one of the founders of EGOI. They told the story of how the dream of organizing an all-girls international Informatics Olympiad in Switzerland became a reality. Even if they seem ridiculous at first - believing in your dreams is worth it.

In their speeches, ETH-rector Sarah Springman and Ergon-CEO Gabriela Keller also encouraged the participants to believe in themselves. “At EGOI, women rule!”, said Keller, and explained that even though that’s not necessarily the case in IT in general, the dedication that got the participants of this first EGOI to where they are now will get them everywhere.

They were the true stars of the opening ceremony: The girls from 43 countries whose introduction videos were shown during the opening ceremony. In their short clips, they took us on a journey from Armenia to the United States. They waved to each other from their homes or the outdoors, wished each other good luck in dozens of different languages and even played the piano. All the while, their excitement and unique personalities could be felt even through the screen.

After the opening ceremony, it was time for the participants to meet on the EGOI Discord server. This is where the socializing happens at this EGOI. Volunteers guide a group of three or four delegations each through the week and make sure they get to know each other, for example by playing games together. Apart from a variety of online social games scheduled throughout the week, there’s also a playful competition in which the participants get to write a program controlling a snake. The goal of the program is to grow the snake by consuming food without ever bumping into the other snakes on the playing field. Any collision results in instant death.

In the afternoon, the participants had their first practice session for the official competition - the two programming contests on Wednesday and Friday. Later, they got to practice a different skill: 3D design. Using the program Tinkercad, they learned to put together a model of a keychain in any shape they desired, which will then be printed with a 3D printer in the ETH Makerspace and sent to the participants by mail. At EGOI, dreams do become real, even keychain dreams.

EGOI volunteers make the participants’ keychain dreams come true with the help of a 3D printer.
Survival of the fittest: The snakes programmed by EGOI participants slithering past each other.
Apart from the delegations’ creative introduction videos, the opening ceremony featured short speeches by inspiring women.