BWINF: A Synergetic GI Initiative to Attract Young People to Informatics

The IT industry is urgently looking for more new employees than education can provide. There are many ways to cope with this dilemma. Perhaps the most difficult but most sustainable area of the population to raise interest in informatics is with teenagers.

In 1980, Gesellschaft für Informatik e.V. (GI) founded Bundeswettbewerb Informatik (BWINF), a school talent competition in informatics. Programming was very popular during the early years when computers first appeared in the home and initially BWINF attracted up to 3,000 16 - 19 year olds every year. However during the early 2000s, numbers decreased to 500. Activities to attract more and younger students were needed.

Therefore in 2006, BWINF joined the international “Bebras“ contest (German site "Informatik Biber“) and founded "Einstieg Informatik" (EI), an online youth portal. Four years later, their success was evident; about 120,000 10 - 19 year olds participated in "Informatik-Biber“ of which more than 40% were girls, approximately 1000 students took part in the talent competition and more than 130,000 visits to the EI site were recorded.

BWINF has become a far-reaching initiative for attracting and fostering talents in informatics, showing the positive effects of well coordinated youth activities through collaboration. There is a wide support network for BWINF activities; GI's partners such as Fraunhofer ICT Group, Max-Planck-Institute for Computer Science, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research generously provide funding for BWINF projects, and Fakultätentag Informatik (a council of university computing institutes) supports the EI website.

Click here for a graph showing Informatik Biber participation numbers since 2006

Thank you to Dr. Wolfgang Pohl and Peter Federer from GI for this contribution.