AILO contest open for students to test logic and computational thinking skills

17 Jan 2013

Contestants Imogen Grumley Traynor from St Kilian's Deutsche Schule in Dublin; Aidan Murnane from St Francis College Rochestown in Co Cork; and competition tutor Melissa Sorensen at the launch of the 2013 All Ireland Linguistics Olympiad

The 2013 All Ireland Linguistics Olympiad (AILO) competition is now accepting applications from second-level students who wish to test their minds against the world’s toughest puzzles in language, logic and linguistics.

The competition challenges secondary school students to apply logic and computational thinking to solve complex puzzles in unfamiliar languages – be it deciphering ancient Oriental scripts, decoding Armenian railway maps, or translating genealogical terms in Hawaiian.

The Minister for Research and Innovation Seán Sherlock, TD, today launched the 2013 season of AILO, which is run by the Centre for Next Generation Localisation (CNGL), the academia-industry research partnership between Dublin City University, Trinity College Dublin (TCD), University College Dublin and University of Limerick.

The aim of the AILO contest, which runs annually, is to inspire students to pursue careers combining computing, linguistics and language.  

According to the CNGL, more than 1,100 students have already entered the competition so far.

To enter, students don’t need to have previous knowledge of foreign languages or linguistics, but key prerequisites are logic and reasoning skills. The top four students in AILO will then go on to represent Ireland at the International Linguistics Olympiad in Manchester, England, in July.

Speaking at the launch, Sherlock said Ireland is experiencing significant demand for multilingual technology graduates, citing the €680m localisation sector in particular.

“Ireland needs a strong supply of talented graduates to pursue the many rewarding careers available at the intersection of computing, language and linguistics,” he said.

Sherlock spoke about how the AILO competition allows students to develop their logic and problem-solving skills.

Imogen Grumley Traynor, a sixth-year student at St Killian’s Deutsche Schule in Dublin, has twice represented Ireland at the International Linguistics Olympiad. She has credited AILO for helping her develop a passion for linguistics, which she now plans to study at university.

Meanwhile, Melissa Sorensen is studying for a degree in computer science, linguistics and language at TCD. A past AILO participant, she now volunteers as a tutor for the competition.  

“After competing in AILO my enthusiasm for languages and linguistics expanded greatly,” said Sorensen. “The experience had a huge effect on my choice of course in university.”

Students have until 18 January to register for the competition. Those who reach the national final of this year’s AILO contest will get tutoring from experts at CNGL.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic