The Polish programming champion left job in Google to teach in Poland

Marek Cygan triumphed over tens of thousands of competitors, winning the world’s most prestigious programming competition at that time – Google Code Jam. He became the world champion in team programming, surpassing thousands of competitors worldwide. At the age of 33, he earned a habilitation in computer science, shortly thereafter becoming a university professor. Marek, by combining robotics and AI, is advancing a company in Poland, supporting our technology sector.

The Polish world champion in programming made a significant decision to step away from his career at American Google and return to his homeland to educate young Poles. 

Holding a Ph.D., Marek is the global champion of ACM ICPC 2007 and secured the title of world champion in Google Code Jam 2005. His research interests primarily revolve around various facets of algorithmics, with a specific emphasis on approximation algorithms and fixed parameter tractability. Following his post-doc positions at the University of Maryland and IDSIA, University of Lugano, Marek made a return to the Institute of Informatics at the University of Warsaw, where he currently serves as an Assistant Professor, overseeing the newly formed Robot Learning group. This group focusses on advancing knowledge in robotic manipulation and computer vision. Marek’s earlier pursuits involved algorithmic research and active participation in programming competitions.

In the recent TopCoder competition, an esteemed event for programmers where approximately 5,000 IT specialists globally participated, Marek Cygan secured the third position, following representatives from China and Russia. The finalists were given 80 minutes to solve three tasks, with the audience observing closely around the stage, featuring eight stands. This competition, sponsored by the American National Security Agency (NSA), is conducted regularly in Las Vegas.

Additionally, Marek plays an active role in the deepsense.ai R&D team, specialising in Deep Learning.

Marek also serves as the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and co-founder of Nomagic, a startup dedicated to developing smart pick-and-place robots tailored for intralogistics applications.

He emphasises that competitions can greatly enhance the chances of securing an internship or traineeship with a sought-after overseas company –  „I engaged in such internships on two occasions, in the third and fourth years of my academic studies, with experiences at both Nvidia and Google. It’s important to note that emerging victorious in a competition doesn’t guarantee a job offer. Corporations reassess candidates to ensure that winning the competition was not merely coincidental, examining qualifications and suitability for the role.”

Nevertheless, Marek declined a job offer in the United States and, at the commencement of his doctoral studies, opted for a position at the Polish company ADB, located in Zielona Góra, which had established a research and development department in Warsaw. ADB specialises in manufacturing TV set-top boxes, primarily for international markets. One year later, Marek faced the decision of either pursuing a career in industry or continuing his tenure at the university.

„I am married and I can’t really imagine my future children growing up in a different culture. I am very used to our culture and our value system.” – Marek says.

 

Author: Patrycja Bodzek-Kurzyńska

Photo: aiforgood

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