B. Küppers, M. Politze

RWTH Aachen University (GERMANY)
While already established in economics, integrated degree programs in STEM education got more popular in Germany over the last few years. The bachelor degree course "Scientific Programming", offered at FH Aachen University of Applied Sciences, is such an integrated degree program, which consists of 50% mathematics and 50% computer science. It incorporates the MATSE (MAthematical and Technical Software dEveloper) training course in cooperation with research facilities and IT companies located in and around Aachen.

Each year a programming contest for active students is carried out in order to support their learning processes in addition to university lectures. These contests are organized by a committee formed by lecturers, alumni and encouraged active students. In the past years a rather classical setting was chosen: publish a task, then let the students work on their solutions for several weeks and in the end collect and evaluate their results to determine the winners of the contest. In this year’s contest a more interactive setting was chosen to increase motivation of the students to take part in the contest.

Therefore three phases were planned: During the first and third phase the students’ attendance at a gathering of all participants was required. In these phases the students were intentionally put under time pressure to enforce imperfect solutions, similar to real life projects but on a smaller scale. The second phase allowed the students to work on the assignment asynchronously at home. For all phases the students had to use a state of the art software lifecycle management toolchain to connect the contest even further to real life software development scenarios.

Before and after the gatherings social activities were set up by the organizing committee. These session were intended to encourage networking between the participants, students as well as organizing committee members. Finally a survey was carried out to get feedback about the new setting of the contest. With these information this year’s contest will be evaluated against the previous setting and improved according to the results.