University computer buffs plus in to conference

By Dan Shah

The Association for Computing Machinery at the University, in conjunction with the computer science department and the electrical engineering department, will be hosting its 11th annual student computing conference from Oct. 7-9.

The conference, titled the ACM Reflections Projections Student Computing Conference is taking place at the Digital Computer Laboratory, 1304 W. Springfield Ave., and at the Siebel Center, 201 N. Goodwin.

The goal of the conference is to bring students together from all over the nation to gain a more general idea regarding the field of computer science. A job fair, speakers, an artificial intelligence programming contest, an Xbox tournament, as well as food and events such as a puzzle contest will take place.

The fair features talks about cutting edge ideas in the field of computer science, said Sameer Sundresh, a graduate student at the University.

“The conference brings various companies and speakers, and invites students from other schools as a sort of exchange,” he said.

The conference, however, is not exclusively limited to computer science students.

“All students are welcome, not just computer science students,” Sundresh said. “Some companies may be looking for production managers. The goal of the conference is to be half software and business and half hardware related.”

The Xbox tournament, puzzles and lectures are free and open to everyone. There is a $20 registration fee for food, programs and t-shirts at the fair. The conference has steadily grown since its inaugural year, 1995. This year, the conference will feature 21 speakers, 25 companies and more than 400 students.

“The conference is run entirely by student volunteers,” said Anthony Philipp, junior in Engineering. “It’s gotten a lot bigger in the last few years. Companies who have come in the past have maintained relationships and from those relationships the conference has grown.”

Many of those companies will be present at the job fair, which will take place Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Siebel Center. Twenty-five companies will be present at the job fair furnishing another opportunity for engineering students aside the Engineering Career Expo.

“Applicants should wear appropriate attire and bring their resumes,” said Philip. “During that time, companies will be doing info sessions out in the atrium (of the Siebel Center) as well.”

The job fair will be the one of the largest the computer science conference has had, and features large companies like Google, Amazon.com and Morgan-Stanley.

“This year’s job fair is going to be the best I’ve seen,” said John Washington, senior in Engineering, who was on the executive committee for the conference last year. “It’s going to be big.”

The field of speakers is a rich one, including Stephen Wolfram, from Wolfram Research, and Peter Hofstee, chip designer for PlayStation 3. There are also non-computer science related speakers such as Ik Yoo from Morgan-Stanley who will give a financial talk as well as Professor Lada Adamic from the University of Michigan who will be discussing the “Butterfly Effect,” said Sundresh.

“The number of speakers and breadth is, at very least, comparable to last year,” said Washington. “This year, there are many speakers who will provide interesting talks. It is really useful that the school has such strong connections in the department.”

The artificial intelligence programming contest, entitled MechMania XI, which will consist of 16 3-person teams and will last 18 hours on Saturday at the Digital Computer Laboratory. The instructions will be given out Friday.

The Xbox tournament, sponsored by EA Sports and Microsoft, will take place Saturday evening at the Siebel Center and will feature “Madden 2006” and “Halo 2.” There is a registration fee that will contribute to the prize money for both games.

There is also an activity called “Puzzlecrack,” at the Siebel Center, which can be participated in through puzzlecrack.org, and is sponsored by Google and Avalon Business Systems.

“Individuals and teams try to figure out the solutions to interesting puzzles,” said Sundresh.” There will be a “meta-puzzle” on Friday with a bigger prize.