Monday, July 06, 2009

China Dominates

Students from China and Russia came out on top in a NSA contest for computer programmers.

Programmers from China and Russia have dominated an international competition on everything from writing algorithms to designing components.

Whether the outcome of this competition is another sign that math and science education in the U.S. needs improvement may spur debate. But the fact remains: Of 70 finalists, 20 were from China, 10 from Russia and two from the U.S.

TopCoder Inc., which runs software competitions as part of its software development service, operates TopCoder Open, an annual contest.

About 4,200 people participated in the U.S. National Security Agency-supported challenge. The NSA has been sponsoring the program for a number of years because of its interest in hiring people with advanced skills.

Participants in the contest, which was open to anyone -- from student to professional -- and finished with 120 competitors from around the world, went through a process of elimination that finished this month in Las Vegas.

China's showing in the finals was also helped by the sheer volume of its numbers, 894. India followed at 705, but none of its programmers were finalists. Russia had 380 participants; the United States, 234; Poland, 214; Egypt, 145; and Ukraine, 128, among others.

Of the total number of contestants, 93% were male, and 84% were aged between 18 and 24.
This lack of talent from the USA may be caused by one of two things. Either we are not developing enough computer scientists and engineers or the one's we have are already employed and producing. In either case it points to the fact that we are not investing enough in the #1 resource of the 21st Century. Brains. Or it could mean that our best resources are going into where the real money is. Marketing and sales.

I have been doing my part. I have one son in marketing (graduated with honors in Russian literature from U. Chicago) and another son and a daughter studying engineering.

H/T The Risks Digest

1 comment:

Neil said...

Lots of people tell me that there is a "crisis" in engineering education. As an engineer, I'm flattered by this. But when I need help making something, I can always find a really good engineer. What I have trouble with is finding a really good marketing guy, who can figure out how to sell things without giving away the store.

Now, if you want to talk about a crisis in scientific literacy in the general public, that's a whole other story.