November 8, 2011

Fourth-year wins statewide technology competition

Courtesy of Darren Leow

While most of the University’s sports teams were left in the dumps this weekend, one student took the gold in a state-wide competition.

Fourth-year Louis Wasserman came in first place at the second annual Illinois Technology Association (ITA) Fall Challenge Contest held on Friday downtown, after tackling a series of applied computer science tests. He came home with $5,000 for winning the contest.

Wasserman was among a group of 125 finalists selected from 1,000 regional undergraduate and graduate students who initially took an ITA qualifying test to demonstrate their programming competency to advance to the final round of the contest.

“I’m actually pretty surprised, since the contest wasn’t the sort of thing I typically focus on,” Wasserman said, despite his strong background in technology.

Wasserman is an active member of the University’s student chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and previously participated in the International Collegiate Programming Contest for which he is now an assistant coach.

“Louis has always had an interest in programming contests, and when he heard about the ITA, he was naturally drawn to it,” said Borja Sotomayor, the academic advisor for ACM. Sotomayor was responsible for bringing the ITA to campus to administer the initial round of the Fall Challenge.

The ITA targets promising Illinois science and technology students like Wasserman in order to connect them with opportunities offered by regional companies.

“Many students migrate to the East and West Coast thinking that’s where tech opportunities are, but many people don’t know about tech businesses here like Groupon and Grubhub,” Sotomayor said.

Wasserman said he still values the opportunity to meet and connect with numerous companies through the ITA.

“It was very interesting, and I certainly enjoyed the chance to get to hear about how different companies approach software development,” Wasserman said.