Programming in NITH is broken. It is not considered cool as it should be. This is a big problem I’m trying to help fix. As a result, I’m working on getting a community going that likes programming and thinks of each others as friends. I wrote the following blog for CSEC to inform people about these efforts. We have our first meeting tomorrow. I’m repeating the blog here also for archival purposes.
NIT Hamirpur is full of talented people. Everybody will agree with this. We have been doing great at GSoC, ahead of top colleges consistently, with alumni who got jobs working on open source from their contributions. We have great competitive coders in all years, with alumni who used to rank in the top 10 in India on Codechef. The projects that we make in hackathons are nothing short of amazing for two days of work.
However, every one we’ve talked to tends to agree that the programming culture here is average at best. We have lots of clubs that don’t do much. Clubs which cater to students, helping them learn stuff that is relevant to their fields of study, don’t exist in NITH. Anyone who codes does it alone, without any help, starting from scratch, eventually re-inventing the wheel, spending time on insignificant stuff that wouldn’t take a minute if they had someone who they could ask for help. There is no sense of community in the programmers of NITH. There are small groups, scattered by year or by clubs, that do very well alone, but would do much better if they were together. CSEC is partially guilty for allowing this to happen. After all, we are the departmental club. It is our responsibility to make sure that the programming culture in the college remains vibrant and exciting. We went a little inactive in 2014 and 2015. There are many reasons for this, none of them worth going into. However, we realized that we had a problem and we resolved to fix it this year.
Enter Heuristics. Before starting to work on the programming culture, we wanted to gauge the interest of people in programming. We decided to start with an online programming competition series, Heuristics. Of course, it was our expectation that Heuristics would garner good amounts of participation. However, the results were much better than we expected. A 2 hour competition with over 500 submissions by over a 100 people was mind-blowing to us. It showed us that given a chance, a programming community could thrive in NITH.
After making Heuristics stable and getting it into the normal schedule of programmers in NITH, we started with the problem of trying to connect the graph of coders in NITH, and start a community that meets regularly and discusses Computer Science (and general life). We’re starting with a focus on competitive programming. We plan to start with solving problems in teams with the aim of introducing people to competitions like the ACM-ICPC and Google Codejam. To do this, we’re going to hold regular bi-weekly meetings where people can come and have fun programming and solving problems with us. An introductory meeting took place today (24th of March) and we plan to have our first real meeting on Thursday, the 30th of March. The venue of the meeting is Seminar Hall (top floor), Computer Center. Timings are 5:00 PM to 7:30 PM. This meet is open to everyone, we would love it if more people join us.
We’re hoping that this will be the beginning of a better programming culture in NITH. We’re also hoping that you’ll join us in this endeavour. See you this Thursday!