York buzzes with whiz kids at computing competition


Above: The winning team from Vaughan Road Academy

There was a buzz of excitement and tension in the air on Saturday, April 3, when 25 whiz-kid teams of four people each from 23 Greater Toronto Area high schools competed in the annual Educational Computing Organization of Ontario (ECOO) Programming Competition. The event was held in Bethune College.

Right: Teams at work during the competition

Each team worked under the gun to solve four problem questions in three hours. Top place was determined by the number of problems solved and the time taken to do so. The winning team from Vaughan Road Academy consisted of students Richard Peng, Sean Lamers, Lev Naiman and Dimitrios Simitas, who solved all four of the problems in roughly two hours for a score of 525.

The next eight top ranked teams, in order, were from the following schools:

  • Leaside High School, – 4 problems solved, score, 495
  • Woburn Collegiate Institute #1 – 4 problems solved, score, 493
  • Newtonbrook Secondary School – 4 problems solved, score, 421
  • Thornleigh SS, York Region DSB – 4 problems solved, score, 407
  • Northview Heights Secondary School S – 4 problems solved, , 405
  • Markville Secondary School – 3 problems solved, score, 386
  • Iona Catholic Secondary School – 3 problems solved, score, 375
  • William Lyon Mackenzie Collegiate Institute– 3 problems solved, score, 371

“Students such as these represent the future of Ontario and Canada,” said Peter Cribb, senior lecturer in York’s Department of Computer Science and host organizer of the event. “Through their future efforts this country will prosper in the competitive, knowledge-based, global economy. We are proud to recognize their abilities and to foster their achievements through sponsoring this competition.”

Above: Peter Cribb 

On Saturday, May 1, the University will again host these nine Toronto area teams as well as teams from schools across the province at the Ontario Provincial finals competition. They will be competing for the York University Trophy for Programming Excellence.

The ECOO competition is sponsored by York’s Department of Computer Science & Engineering with support from the Faculty of Pure & Applied Science and from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).

What is ECOO?

The organization is composed of teachers whose aim, says the ECOO Web site, is “to share and disseminate information and to advocate and promote the effective use of computers and associated technologies in the education process.”

ECOO represents all levels of the education system and draws members from all areas of study. Although primarily focused on Ontario issues, ECOO membership also extends across international boundaries. Formed in 1979, ECOO has grown steadily and now has a membership base of over 2,000 members.