21 June 2010

Farewell CompTeam

Hello all,

Wow! It has been a great first year for BCA Computer Team. You all deserve a big pat on the back for shaping the elective into what it is now and deserve many thanks for your involvement and contributions. Hopefully the elective has fulfilled its intended purpose: to present challenges in computer science to further current knowledge. Please do not feel discouraged by USACO training and the contests, they were meant to be tough and non-routine. Battleship was meant to be a relaxing break from the training problems; hopefully it was a good application of algorithmic programming, data structures, and most of all, problem solving in a real-life programming job.

The real lesson to be learned from CompTeam is to create opportunities for yourself. Don't complain about the teachers; just finish their work quickly so you have more time for your own endeavors. There is a plethora of fresh material waiting: USACO, TopCoder, research, and even projects. The last option is most definitely possible. I'll give you two examples. At the end of junior year, I wrote a minesweeper clone, LOLsweeper, in two days using Java. This year, Mark Fayngersh, Alec Benzer, Vikram Jayashankar, and friends wrote a full-blown iPad game, Blob Defense in about a month using Objective C. Sure, this sounds intimidating at first, but if you are willing to take the time to learn cool techniques, languages, and coding paradigms, you most certainly will get a phenomenal product and you will be impressed at what you are capable of. So when should you start? NOW!

Last but not least, since the elective is in its infancy, I would like to present my expectations for CompTeam's future. I will officially empower Alec Benzer as 2010-2011 Captain at 12:00PM on 24 June 2010. This does not imply that he is the one doing everything, though he is the one managing logistics. Remember that this is CompTeam; it has been successful for the past year because of you, the individual. My stepping down means that I will not be dictating the future of CompTeam. Keep the team alive, make it a tradition, and hopefully it will be recognized as a competent team. Attract freshmen and everyone who wants to pursue computer science or wants a challenge in problem solving with computers. Do a mixture of lectures, contest problems, and projects. Host a game tournament, party, and give out prizes. Share lectures, material, knowledge and put them on a website or central repository. Get parents involved. Learn. Have fun. Make new friends.

I must reiterate myself again: don't let teachers limit your potential. Reflect on the accomplishments you made in CompTeam. That was all you. If you realized that compsci isn't your passion, keep looking. As Steve Jobs said in his Stanford Commencement speech, "Don't settle until you found something (or someone) you love. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it."

That's all for now. Keep in touch! Feel free if you have programming questions :)


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