Life after school and EGOI after dark
As some participants face decisions about the future, EGOI shows the many faces of computer science
What do you think of when you think of an EGOI participant? Maybe a clever and creative young woman sitting in front of her computer, coming up with the next ingenious idea for an algorithm? That’s certainly how the participants spend a lot of their time during EGOI, but sometimes, they’re also climbing trees and whizzing down ziplines. That’s what the Swiss team did on Thursday when they went on an excursion to a rope course in the Canton of St. Gallen. Most of them, that is. Ema took a long train journey from Zurich to Geneva and back in order to sit a university admissions maths exam. Sometimes, EGOI participants chase each other in a game of paintball (such as Team Mexico), and sometimes, they ask themselves: What am I supposed to do with my life?
“Universities seem to be on many of their minds”, says Kalina Petrova, the guide of Bulgaria, Lithuania and Slovenia. On Thursday, she spent two hours chatting with five girls from her designated delegations about all their questions on choosing a university and studying abroad. The “Computer Science Outlook”, which took place on Zoom in the afternoon, also provided potential informatics students with insights. In a video conference, four young computer scientists explained their work and showed that this field opens many different doors. Thomas Wolf, one of the minds behind the ETH student project turned commercially distributed game “Unrailed” (which some of the participants played on Wednesday), spoke about creating maps in games. Jieni Wang explained how the ETH students group “NomadZ” make robots play soccer and take them to tournaments. Julia Chatain combines learning sciences and game technology and researches how using our body enhances learning and what role virtual and augmented reality could play in this. “Research always starts with a question”, the ETH doctoral student says, “and that was really good for me because I had so many questions.” Charlotte Knierim, who is also one of the core EGOI organizers, presented theoretical considerations behind algorithms. Coding isn’t really part of her daily PhD activities, yet she is part of the computer science department at ETH.
Later in the evening, the participants who felt up for it got to watch an interactive movie on Netflix. Together, they wielded the power to choose what would happen to Puss in Boots from the Shrek movie franchise in an animated fantasy adventure. Then, it was time to get some rest. After all, Friday is the day of the second contest. For the Swiss team, the first contest had been a high temperature experience: With up to over 30 degrees, Zurich is showing itself from its sunniest side this week. The third floor apartment close to the main train station in which the team resides can get quite hot. In addition, Ema suffered sunburns during the bike tour on Tuesday, which she had to moisturize constantly. Let’s hope Ema, Jasmin, Priska, Vivienne and everyone competing from similar or even hotter weather keeps a cool head during the second contest!
While the participants went to bed (or at least, should have gone to bed) in order to be fit for the demanding day ahead, work was not over for some of the volunteers organizing EGOI. When facing the challenges of coordinating such an event, EGOI chair Stefanie Zbinden recommends strawberry tarts. André Ryser, who can be found sitting in the EGOI headquarters late at night while editing the solution videos, recommends not using a weak laptop when editing 4K footage. Ivana Klasovita, who spent the last few days in the company of 3D printers, recommends taking enough time when planning to print 160 keychains. The printing process took longer than expected, Ivana explains. She also had to adapt 3D models with unsupported parts in a way which works with the printers, yet still stays true to the original design. On Thursday evening, Ivana was waiting for another batch of keychains to print overnight. After this week, even the 3D printers are going to need some sleep!