SCUSA Site Hosting Information
The South Central USA Regional Programming Contest desperately needs more sites! Potential contestants/schools should not be turned away. Many of us could host. Below is information about hosting:
- Overview of SCUSA
- Site Director Responsibilities
- Space Requirements
- Computer/Network Requirements
- Benefits of Hosting
Overview of SCUSA
SCUSA is a distributed contest. This means that instead of every team going to a single site, we have multiple sites across the region where teams can go and compete. We changed to distributed to reduce travel time and cost for competitors in hopes that it would increase participation.
For this model to work, we need places willing to host a site. For the last several years, we have filled all available seats at the each site. While it might be nice if each site could handle more teams, having more sites is very desirable.
The SCUSA Regional is usually scheduled for a Friday/Saturday towards the end of October or at the beginning of November. Doing it earlier makes getting teams difficult for many schools. Mid-November is the deadline imposed by ICPC. Even though this is an academic event, we are often impacted by athletic events. In particular, home football games quite often prevent a campus from hosting a student activity that weekend (LSU, Baylor, Texas A&M for example). The actual choice of date becomes the weekend near the month change that the most most schools can host (LSU as the judging site cannot have a home game).
For example, based on 2016 projected football schedule LSU can host October 28/29 (home games the week before and after). Texas A&M has a home game.
Site Director Responsibilities
The Site Director is the person who runs everything at the site. One person can do it all or they can utilize as many assistants as they would like (and can get). Delegating where feasible is a great plan. Below is a rough list of responsibilities. In reality, you have to do everything it takes to make things happen.
- Coordinate with Regional Director
- Coordinate event
- Determine site capacity
- Coordinate food purchase, food delivery, food distribution, food cleanup (We have a budgeted amount per team per meal)
- Coordinate with technical staff (you need at least one technical person at your site that has more than a passing knowledge with Linux)
- Arrange facilities and parking
- Put together a list of nearby hotels and amenities (so coaches of visiting teams will have a little easier time)
- Print and maintain security of problem sets
Hosting a site means a general meeting room, a place to eat and a competition area. Here are some criteria that each area needs to meet.
- General info
- Contest is currently a two day affair. Site needs to be available from Friday at 5:00 PM until Saturday and 6:00 PM
- Printing capability. You will need to print problem sets and other stuff before contest. Teams will need to be able to print during contest.
- Meeting area
- Typically a site needs a single room that all teams can congregate in.
- This room needs a video projector and a computer (this will be needed for site wide communications)
- Eating area (This can be same area as the Meeting area)
- Enough space for food and teams to eat
- Bathrooms nearby
- Garbage cans
- Competition area
- A site should be able to host 20 or more teams (10 is an absolute minimum)
- Three chairs (one per competitor)
- Adequate workspace for computer and the other two to work at
- Reasonable isolation (if teams are to close to each other, it can be disruptive)
- Power and network for the computer
Computer and Network Requirements
Obviously the teams will need computers to compete with. These need to be site supplied. If they were competitor supplied by the competitors, it would be difficult to ensure security.
We will generate a USB image that can boot your systems and communicate over wired ethernet (appropriate for use in an existing lab). Here are the minimum requirements for a contestant machine. The key runs self contained (no changes needed to host system).
- At least 4 GB RAM (prefer 8 or more)
- Bootable from USB
- Dual core (Core 2 Duo or newer)
- Wired ethernet
- All competitor machines at a site should be the same (or darn close).
You will need to provide us the ip address of your printer and the make and model so that we can configure the image properly.
If you do static networking instead of DHCP, we will need a list of ip addresses and mac addresses to customize the image with.
We are currently working to add support for NFS home space if you would prefer that instead of home being on the USB key.
In the future we will probably provide the USB keys. Unless a funding source (read a sponsor) is found, you will need to retain the keys for reuse each year. We will provide the key, the image and the instructions and support for getting the image on the keys (you will need a few volunteers to help with that process).
The contestants use web browsers to view documentation (port 80) and use secure web to submit (port 443). An additional port can be used for remote communication (configuration management). We will handle adapting the firewalls on the contestant machines to ensure that internet access is not available during contests. They will need network access to the printer.
So far, it starts to look like hosting a site is all work and no fun. Here is a list of some of the benefits. If you can think of other benefits (or suggestions), please let us know.
- One free team entry for your school
- No travel cost/hassle for your teams
- Community service/outreach opportunity for your school (put Grad school pamphlets in registration bags)
- Allowing contest to reach more people
- The knowledge that you are helping
Since you run your own site, you might have another opportunity. You might decide that your site can support 18 teams acceptably. You may be able to add an extra team or two of your own in sub-standard location. In other words, you might be able to add an extra young team or two by putting them in locations that would not be suitable for guests or having them use equipment that is different or less capable.