The idea: Develop your own creative solutions
Organised as an programming competition just for girls, EGOI is all about problem-solving. Two five-hour exams will be held on 16 and 18 June, consisting of four tasks that participants must solve using algorithms they have developed themselves. Those who demonstrate outstanding logic and creativity will be awarded with the gold, silver or bronze medals. Around 160 participants from 43 countries have qualified to take part in EGOI.
Four secondary school students and their two supervisors, students at ETH, make up the Swiss team. The home team will be the only participants to do their programming in Zurich itself; the other teams will participate in EGOI as an online event due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
One of the Swiss contestants is Ema Skottova from the Kirchenfeld
school in Bern. She’s just as familiar with the commute to ETH as she is with exam pressure. This year she is taking her school-leaving exams (
). Previously, she attended the ETH Math Youth Academy, a joint project hosted by the ETH Department of Mathematics and the NCCR SwissMAP aimed at secondary school students who enjoy the process of creative thinking in maths. It was in these classes that she learned how to do proofs, Skottova recalls. She loves the way of thinking that this requires.
Skottova enjoyed the same experience at the Swiss Olympiad in Informatics and the European Girls’ Mathematical Olympiad, participating in both these competitions last year and winning silver and bronze. Like Stefanie Zbinden, she compares computer science and mathematics to solving puzzles. Skottova loves the elegance with which logical arguments can be applied to solve and understand certain problems. “I relish the pure and the logical,” she says. “That’s why I enjoy maths so much, and programming is a way I can apply it.”
Now she wants to put her programming skills to the test at the Olympiad in Informatics. Unlike at school, in an Olympiad she will have to come up with her own way to find the solution.
The idea for the EGOI competition was born out of the fact that, on average, women account for less than 15 percent of the students who participate in the original Swiss Olympiad in Informatics. A group of committed young people with links to the Olympiad and ETH wanted to change that, so they created EGOI. “EGOI is pitched directly at young women. The aim is to encourage their interest in computer science by providing a platform for them to gain a sense of achievement and engage with like-minded people,” explains Lara Gafner, who is involved in the competition in her capacity as communication officer for the umbrella Association of Swiss Scientific Olympiads. She studies History and Philosophy of Knowledge at ETH. Although not a programmer herself, she’s familiar with the related fields of philosophy, such as logic, and has participated in the Philosophy Olympiad.