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BrainAcademy 2007: are you smart enough?

No winners last year, the gauntlet is down

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BrainAcademy, the competition that hands out bursaries to promising computer science students, is kicking off again this summer. Last year the challenge proved too tough for the entrants: no one managed to survive all three elimination rounds to claim the prize.

The contest runs on three levels: postgraduate, undergraduate, and "next generation", open to school-aged whizz-kids. The winner of the postgraduate contest will receive cash to put towards studying an MSc at Queen Mary's, and an interview at ARM. The undergraduate winner will receive a fee-paid place at university, and a fast track to a career with its sponsor, Microsoft.

Prizes on offer to the next generation include iPod nanos, book tokens, and a trip to the Augmented Human Interaction Research Laboratory at Queen Mary's.

The theme this year, perhaps in acknowledgement of the long-delayed WEEE directive coming into force, is Computer Science, Creativity, and Going Green.

BrainAcademy organiser, Dr Paul Curzon of Queen Mary's Department of Computer Science, says the industries that depend on computer science "urgently need...new talent".

He argues that the so-called green revolution demands people with creative skills to solve the particular problems it presents. The need, he says, is for society to find new ways to use technology to reduce environmental impact and for computer scientists to find ways to make existing technologies greener.

"An important part of the function of science is to face the challenges for society", said David Evans, of the British Computer Society. "As well as highlighting the need for talent in computing, this competition highlights the need for professional and social responsibility in the way computer science is applied." ®

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