A Lighthouse of Knowledge: How a No-IP Employee Helps Foster Success through ICPC Latin America

ICPC: Education, Competition, and Community Drives Success

No-IP has a never-ending lineup of talented employees; From working and simultaneously achieving a Master’s Degree to winning awards, the No-IP team is always practicing our core values in and out of the office. In addition, we’ve been fortunate to have talent from different parts of the world outside of our headquarters in Reno, Nevada. The team has been blessed with talent involved with the famous ICPC.

Great Minds are Taught by Good Teachers

Emilio Wuerges works remotely in Brazil and is part of our Platform team led by our resident expert David Jonas. Earlier this month, he attended the prestigious International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) Latin American finals in Guadalajara, Mexico. ICPC is an annual competitive programming competition for college students all around the globe. It has been described as “The oldest, largest, and most prestigious programming contest in the world”. Participants come from over 3,000 universities that are spread across 111 countries and host over 400 competitions. Students take part in different contests where small teams are given five hours to solve eight to fifteen programming problems.

According to the ICPC, the contests give participants the opportunity to compete against each other to solve programming challenges. It is a way for them to practice “collaboration, creativity, innovation, and the ability to perform under pressure.” Even if participants don’t win, they gain invaluable skills that will only serve them as they continue their education in Computer Science. However, winning the contest is more than just bragging rights: The winning team takes home $15,000 along with the ICPC Gold medal. Now that’s impressive!

ICPC Lighthouse Keepers: Teachers are Never Off-Duty

Emilio first got involved with ICPC as a coach training teams for the finals contest. Their group started with a small team of professors in a small countryside university in Brazil: They saw the value in ICPC as a way to help prepare their students for challenges they would encounter in the real world. The students in the groups have been so successful that they have even advanced six times to the Brazilian nationals!

During the COVID shutdown, Emilio and the other teachers needed to find a way to interact with the students to keep the group going. That’s when they started livestreaming the Brazilian regional contest. The livestreams became so popular and successful that the ICPC started streaming the nationals and the Latin American finals. Even better, the livestreams continue to grow.

Emilio shared that it’s hard for Computer Science courses to stay up to date: The curriculum is prone to becoming outdated or disadvantageous. There’s always a risk that courses will become too self-centered and can drift toward irrelevant subjects. This, in turn, negatively impacts students who end up working too hard on non-pertinent subjects and end up with an unbalanced education.

That’s where ICPC becomes “like a lighthouse” according to Emilio. The contest helps guide and show teachers and students what to study, how to study, and how much to study. This ensures that students stay the course and hone their skills with relevant tools and information. “It doesn’t matter if you are in Brazil, the US, or China. It gives students and teachers a way to work together globally. All you have to do is take part in the competition and do the best you can,” Emilio shares. Unsurprisingly, he has been very proud of the impact participating in the contest has created.

Competition Creates Trailblazers

Emilio is proud that most of the students who have participated in ICPC turned out to be professionally successful. The group is at a point where returning students are coming back to help sponsor the competitions. They now hail from Brazilian companies like Wildlife Studios, VTEX, and Nelogica, which created Brazil’s stock exchange (B3)’s official app. Some former competitors have also landed roles at conglomerates like Oracle.

From left to right: Emilio Wuerges, Lidia Perovskaya (live broadcaster from ICPC News/World Finals from US/Russia), and Marcos Kolodny (Latin America an World Finals Spanish commentator, 4 times world finalist, 2 times Latin American champion, from Argentina).

This year, Emilio worked behind the scenes at the ICPC in Guadalajara, but was able to join in on a short segment of a livestream in English. You can also take a look at the promotional video for the next ICPC Latin American contest. Next year, it will take place in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.

It’s hard not to be inspired by Emilio and countless other Computer Science teachers. They have done so much to inspire, motivate, and prepare these students to become full-fledged experts in their fields. Not only are we lucky to have these international remote employees on board, but they happen to be genuinely invested in tech professionally and personally.

Interested in joining our stellar team? Take a look at our careers page to see if there is a role fit for you!