Computer Laboratory

2MinuteChallenge: Computer Science in Two Minutes

Sixth form students have the opportunity to win prizes by telling the world about computer science and how important it is to our society. The University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory is running a competition this summer to find short YouTube video clips that help to educate the public ( Entrants, mostly school students, must submit a video or animation that is less than two minutes long that describes some aspect of computer science in an entertaining way. The authors of the best entries will win an expenses-paid trip to see the new Google Zurich offices as well as receiving new Asus eeePCs. Entries from the general public are also being accepted, and are eligible for a separate prize.

The competition is to encourage students and the public to re-evaluate what they understand by the term ‘computer science’. The introduction of the ICT qualification has caused confusion amongst many students, who incorrectly equate it to computer science. ICT is a vocational qualification akin to a training course in specific computer products. Computer scientists combine mathematical rigour with lateral thinking, creative design, psychology and social sciences to make tomorrow’s technology, changing the world and generating the ideas from which fortunes are made.

Dr Robert Harle, of the Cambridge Computer Laboratory says “Many students dismiss computer science without realising that it underpins almost everything in modern society – cars, logistics, communications, banking, retail shopping and education. Graduates of Cambridge’s computer science degree are in high demand from sectors as diverse as banking, management, IT, and research. Without more trained computer scientists, the UK will rapidly decline. The competition is an incentive for students and members of the public to find out more about computer science and communicate it to their peers. The Laboratory hopes that this will boost the popularity of the subject.”

The competition is run by the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory and is supported by Google. The closing date for entries is August 15 2008. For more information about the competition, please visit the website at or contact Dr Robert Harle (Robert.Harle at, phone 01223 767019)

About the Computer Laboratory: The Computer Laboratory is an academic department within the University of Cambridge which encompasses Computer Science, along with many aspects of Engineering, Technology and Mathematics. It consists of 35 full-time academic staff, 25 support staff, 35 post-doctoral research workers and 140 PhD students.