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Student Voice

My HSC GPA was 4.6. I missed Golden A, by accidentally getting A+ in math. In 2009, more than 18000 HSC examinees got A+ (GPA 5.00), and only around 10,000 positions were available for admission in public Universities and colleges of Bangladesh, and private Universities’ tuition fees were unaffordable for me. Well, I never liked Bangladesh Education Board’s public education system because of many reasons, and I was too passionate about CSE to let their poor grades judge me.

It was the beginning of the month of February. I can still remember that day, February 1, 2010, our orientation day at CSEDU. I was sitting in the front, excited, thrilled and shy. I was happy and feeling proud being a part of the great family. Later, our first programming class it was, Ashis Sir explaining what “#include int main{return 0;}” does. I didn’t understand anything. The next day there was this C lab. The problem was to print “\\Hello World//” to console. As far as I can remember, I couldn’t get rid of those stupid compile errors! But, I wanted to learn programming. So I tried and finished all the basics of C in two weeks. Following Ashis Sir’s precise lectures, I started getting into programming wonderland. He led us to a rabbit hole, the CSEDU Online Judge (yes, we had our own OJ back then, developed by Monowar Sir and Jan vai). I had no Internet connection at home during the 1st semester, so using lab’s PCs I used to download problems from CSEDUOJ to solve them at home, and submit from lab the next day.

Prize giving ceremony, Amritapuri Regional 2013.

Ashis Sir shared with us what ACM ICPC is … balloons, free food, problem solving, excitement, University tour and prize money! We were so excited to get into the competition. Jami, Shiplu vai, and Anna apu started taking classes for us. We, 16th batch competitive programmers jumped together into problem solving arena. We used to rush towards lab; right after classes were finished, to jump into the show (contest). Foods used to arrive in the middle of the show, and hungry we used to eat them with extreme delight – hands on keyboard and food in mouth. Well, my first national level programming contest was NCPC 2011, arranged by CSEDU. My teammates were Rijul and Akash. To get into the contest, the requirement was to be within top 5 departmental teams, judged by internal contests. I still remember the delight we shared upon achieving that goal. It was priceless.

Well, we were 20th. Bidhan, Shafaet and Imran’s team from our batch ranked 11th. Our team was extremely bad in solving DP (Dynamic Programming Problems). Well, the next thing I remember is I solved hundreds of DP problems wihthin the next few months. In the last contest I attended (2013 Amritapuri Regional) with Ridowan and Zobayer vai, I solved a DP that was the least solved problem, and our team solved it first, among all the 400+ participating Asian teams. Well, we couldn’t make it to the World Final though, I wished to participate in 2014 regional, but, after regional 2013, I got a job offer from Google (after several phases of interviews, of course), and I accepted that. So yeah, bye bye ACM ICPC.

With Mr. Android, at Google Cambridge. I loved Boston a lot.

After almost every internal contests, all of us used to go to Chankharpul, for food, or wandered around TSC, to enjoy all good street foods there. Delight, frustration, contentment, disappointment, all of our feelings grew into something meaningful. And so we grew. Weeks before regional, we stayed at department overnight for practicing together. It was unbelievably fun. And, our favorite coach used to treat us with awesome Chankharpul dinner. In IUT IUPC 2012, “DU Incendio” was a newly formed team: Bidhan, Shafaet and me. All new war mates, and indeed so much exciting it was. Well, we ranked 10th. Disappointed? Yes. But 10 is a beautiful number, so let’s try to find something positive out of it: if we can eliminate Mr. 0, we are the champion! So, we tried not to stop trying. Next national level contest was BGC Trust IUPC 2012, and we became champion there, solving 8 problems. Yes, for us that was a day flooded with happiness, excitement, delight and thrill. IUT IUPC again. 2013 it was. Having non-mainstream names are too mainstream. So we had alphabetic team names: DU A, B, C, D, E, F. I was in DU B, with Ridowan and Zobayer vai. 0 left us alone again, and the lucky digit accompanied us. We were champion solving 7 problems. Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth.

At Google Switzerland, some days after starting here.

Sounds like too much of success stories? In 2013 Amritapuri Regional, we missed the World Final by Getting 4 Wrong Answers on the easiest problem because of a silly misunderstanding with the judge’s clarification system. I was so excited to attend 2012 Amritapuri Regional (prepared my passport for that, you know how bureaucratic the process is) only to face the truth that our team-mate couldn’t go because of not getting Indian visa. We attended that contest virtually later and acquired second position (top three official teams were selected for the great battle of the brains).

Well, not the outcome, the journey is what makes it beautiful. The universe may end as a black hole singularity at some point, but living is beautiful, isn’t it? Have I reached my goal? No. Will I ever? No. Why? Because there is no goal. I pursued what my heart wanted to pursue, always, always enjoyed the beautiful journey. That’s where the pleasure lies. Life is too short to live someone else’s dream, you know.

Momontho Mashak Monmoy
Software Engineer
(16th Batch Student, Department of CSE, University of Dhaka)