HU Students take Top Honors at Computer Science Competitions

A team comprising two computer science sophomores and a freshman has won the Database Design Competition at FAST’s Procom 2016 and secured third position at IBA’s Pro Battle 2016 in the same category

HABIB UNIVERSITY, April 21, 2016: Students enrolled in Habib University’s School of Science & Engineering recorded decisive victories in database design competitions held earlier this month at two separate local universities.

Syed Shariq Ali (B.S. Computer Science, 2018), Barira Yousuf (B.S. Computer Science, 2018) and Usman Ahmed (B.S. Computer Science, 2019) formed the only team representing Habib University in the Database category, at FAST-NUCES Karachi’s Procom 2016 competition.

The three students, who are currently taking a course in Databases with Dr. Syeda Saleha Raza, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Habib, had never taken part in a computer science competition before. After hearing about the competition from a friend, they initially decided to enter Procom 2016 as individual participants, but later joined forces and formed a team that could represent Habib University.

With 43 other teams from big name universities vying for the top position in the Database Design category, you could be forgiven for thinking they were underdogs: they were possibly the youngest team in the event, and one of them had never studied computer science before she came to Habib.

However, their strong knowledge base more than made up for their lack of experience. “We found the first round of the competition – designing Entity Relationship Diagrams – very easy, and actually a lot of fun,” the team said. They finished comfortably in the top three, while 26 other teams were disqualified for failing the task.

In the second round, they were asked to retrieve information from a given database by executing different ‘queries’. The team once again benefited from their superior training and knowledge: “The queries we were asked to run were something we had studied in the first couple of classes of our course,” explained Barira. “We knew as soon as we were given the problem what we had to do and were the first team to finish the challenge.”

I felt as if we have been studying much more advanced things here at Habib.


The winning team exploring Databases with the instructor.

As their strategy to win, the three students worked as a tight-knit unit. They broke the problem down and divided the work between themselves. They cross-checked each other’s work to make sure they were on the right path, and leveraged each other’s strengths where they felt they were individually weak. They were so impressive in the competition that when they arrived for Pro Battle 2016 at IBA, people came up to say hello after recognizing them as ‘the team who won at Procom.’

“Some people had difficulty believing we could have done it so quickly. ‘Did you guys take help from the internet?’ some people asked us,” recalled Usman.

The team repeated their success at Pro Battle 2016, but perhaps not at the level they had hoped to. “The Entity Relationship Diagrams (ERD) were pretty tricky at Pro Battle,” they said. “ERDs teach you how to apply database theory to real-world applications. Perhaps if we had slightly more experience, we might have been able to ace this competition as well.” Still, for the youngest team at the competition, even third place was no mean feat in a competition dominated by juniors and seniors from universities dedicated to computer science.

We wish the three best of luck in their future efforts, and their hopes of holding a competition similar to Procom and Pro Battle here at Habib. “We have gained a lot of exposure, and learnt a lot about how we can hold a similar event here at Habib. Perhaps if we three work on this together, we can do it,” the team said.


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