Trinidad and Tobago's participation in the International Olympiad in Informatics

Professor Noel Kalicharan has passed away recently. May he rest in peace. I remember him as being the organiser for what we called the Computer Olympiads for secondary school students. I was attending St. Mary's College at the time. We would submit solutions to programming questions and then be selected to participate in the next round of the selection process at the Roytec computer lab. I never made it past this round. Winners after that round would be trained at UWI under Kalicharan and then another selection made to fly to the international competition. The local awards ceremony would usually be held at Algico plaza.

When I went on to Morehouse College I would participate in the ACM contest and one time my team placed 2nd in our division having gotten 3 questions correct. I see that UWI and other tertiary schools have been participating in the ACM-ICPC contests. At one point we also had participants in the Microsoft Imagine Cup. We really need to promote our participation in these types of contests locally. We have not participated in the International Olympiad in Informatics since 2013.

We have participated 15 times between 2013 and 1992. We medalled 3 times. Bronze by Ravi Ramkissoon in 1995 and bronze by Xin Zheng in 2000 and 2001. I remember Ravi Ramkissoon from St. Mary's College. He was one year ahead of me. I remember him as being a genius and someone I look up to. He was also a president medal scholarship winner. In 2017 I had emailed Noel and asked him, is the Computer Olympiad still running in Trinidad? His reply was as follows, "We run it when there’s interest from schools/students. This interest has been declining in recent years. Seems that not many people are interested in computer programming (most find it too difficult, even at UWI)".

Where do we go from here? I have contacted a senior lecturer at UWI to get more info. I am also going to ask Minister Hassel Bacchus about this. Participation in the these contests will help to keep interest in ICT and coding. We need coders to build out the systems in our country's digitisation strategy. Last year we did not have the 2nd iteration of the HackTT hackaton because of Covid and I am thinking that we should still hold the contest virtually. The first contest came in for a lot of praises.

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