During my undergraduate studies at Damascus University, I was an active member of the famous programming competition ACM ICPC. In a nutshell, it is a team-based competition, each team consists of 3 students and one machine. The contest runs for 5 hours, and the winner is the team who can solve as many problems as possible from the proposed problem set (usually from 8 to 12 problems). The main programming languages are C++ and Java.
My first official participation was in 2009 and it was the second time for the university to participate in the regional tier of the ACM contest, Arab Collegiate Programming Contest (ACPC). My team achieved the 8th place and we were so close to being qualified for the international round. Subsequent years, we got the 14th and 11th place.
In 2011, my country starts to be more involved in the competition and organized the first official national tier round, Syrian Collegiate Programming Contest (SCPC). We achieved, as a team, the 1st place back then.
From 2012 and for two years, I co-trained and co-coached the teams that are qualified for the regional tier. At the same time, I played the role of judge and problem setter in many national and local tier contests.
In this kind of competitions, the ultimate goal is to solve predefined and well-specified problems accurately, and as fast as possible. However, after starting my Ph.D., I realized that sometimes, finding and defining the problem is as difficult as solving it, if not more difficult. Now, it makes me happy working in the research world with invaluable experience in problems solving.