PCs lend the whiz-kids a helping hand

May 5, 2000

Language should be less of a barrier to communication this year between students at the 31st International Physics Olympiad.

The Olympiad will attract 450 physics students from a record entry of 65 countries to take part in a battle of academic and experimental skills.

The University of Leicester has invested heavily in new software that will enable competitors to type assignments in their own language.

Brian Cooke, senior lecturer in the department of physics and astronomy, is overseeing the translation of examination papers.

He said: "We ask all the participating countries to submit sample questions in their own languages so that we can set up a Windows environment for that language. We then feed in their question and email it to them to check that it all makes sense."

In May 1999, Leicester became the first university in the world to offer a computing service based on a beta-release of Microsoft's Windows 2000 operating system. By the time the software was officially released in February, the university had nearly 1,000 client PCs running the operating system and 5,000 registered users. By October 2000, all 8,500 students at the university will have started using the service.

A software image, created specially for the Olympiad, and Office 2000 with full international language support, will be installed simultaneously on each of the PCs via the campus network. The Olympiad will be held from July 8-16.

Details: www.star.le.ac.uk/IPhO-2000

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