Al Arqam Academy wins first place at Carnegie Mellon programming competition
Fourth annual Alice Middle East Programming Competition hosts more than 100 students from 12 schools across Qatar
DOHA, Qatar: A team from Al Arqam Academy took first place in the Alice Middle East Programming Competition for middle and high school students at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMU-Q). There were 111 students from 12 schools who participated in the fourth annual showcase of creativity and programming skills.
Michael Trick, Dean of CMU-Q, congratulated all of the participants of the competition: “Alice was developed at Carnegie Mellon to make programming accessible to school-aged children. These students have not only learned the concepts well, they used creativity and imagination to create some amazing projects. The world of computing is now open to them.”
Alice Middle East is an educational software program that teaches students fundamental programming concepts as they create animated movies and simple videos. Originally developed at Carnegie Mellon’s main campus in the US, Alice was adapted for Qatar by researchers at CMU-Q, with support from a National Priorities Research Program (NPRP) grant from Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF). With the support of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, Alice Middle East is now part of the curriculum at all Qatar government schools that teach information communication technology.
In 2018, CMU-Q and Jassim & Hamad Bin Jassim Charitable Foundation created the Hamad Bin Jassim Center for K-12 Computer Science Education that supports Alice Middle East. Saeed Mathkar AlHajri, Board Member and CEO of Jassim & Hamad Bin Jassim Charitable Foundation, noted: “We created the center for computer science education with CMU-Q to give students the tools they will need in their studies and in their careers. These students show that when we provide children with knowledge, we unlock their creativity and talent.”
The competition was sponsored by Abu Issa Holdings, a strategic partner of CMU-Q. The Chairman and CEO, Ashraf Abu Issa, observed that many of the Alice projects were directly connected to Qatar: “Many of these student-led projects show us how young people view Qatar. It is very encouraging to see many young minds envisioning a technological and advanced future for Qatar.”
The competition was the culmination of weeks of preparation by the teams, who created animations in the categories of education, social good, the environment, tourism and video games. They were judged for programming skills, creativity, oral presentations and teamwork.
Abdul Sattar Al-Taie, Executive Director of QNRF and a long-time supporter of Alice Middle East, commented: “It is a priority for us to fund research that will contribute to Qatar’s human development for future generations. We are very pleased to see these students embrace the knowledge they have learned through Alice Middle East and create these imaginative and technically challenging projects.”
Saquib Razak, associate teaching professor of computer science and the co-director of the Hamad Bin Jassim Center for K-12 Computer Science Education, believes that computer science is fundamentally important to the development of Qatar. “Today, computer science touches nearly every part of the Qatar economy, and computing will continue to play a bigger role as technologies advance. I congratulate all of the students for a remarkable showcase of their skills.”