Held annually since 2021, Mega Contest is a competition for Bachelor’s students and graduates that helps talented students enter ITMO’s Master’s programs without exams. The winners are also supported during their move to St. Petersburg and have their dorm fees covered throughout the entire period of studies. 

The registration for this year’s contest will be open until January 4, 2024. Students wishing to take part in the contest will have to sign up on its official website and pick any number of tracks they’d like to take part in. Participants can prepare for the contest with the demos available on its website. 

This year, the contest will offer tasks in 11 fields: Programming, Artificial Intelligence, Engineering Sciences, Robotics, Molecular Biology, Ecology, Humanities, Biotechnology, Chemistry, Physics, and Management and Innovations. 

Each field includes several tracks, the number of which grew from 16 in the first season to 28 in the third. This year’s additions are Electrical Engineering, Quantum Models and Algorithms, Computational Modelling Methods, Information Systems and Artificial Intelligence, and Mobile Development. You can find the full list here.

MegaForum held within the framework of Mega Contest. Photo by Tatiana Voropayeva /: ITMO's Mediaportal

MegaForum held within the framework of Mega Contest. Photo by Tatiana Voropayeva /: ITMO's Mediaportal

The selection round will be held on January 5-21 in the form of online testing, where the participants will have 180 minutes to complete its tasks. Students who get the biggest number of points will proceed to the next round. 

The final round will be held in March 2024. In it, the participants will also have to solve several tasks online – this time, in 240 minutes and under the monitoring of a proctoring system. The winners will be announced in April 2024. They will be able to enter the university’s Master’s programs without exams and will be assisted with their relocation to St. Petersburg. 

Over the Mega Contest’s two seasons, it has welcomed over 3,300 participants from various Russian cities – 107 of them entered ITMO University. 

We talked to winners of last year’s Mega Contest, who entered the Programming and Artificial Intelligence program, about their impressions of the competition and reasons for joining it.

Yaroslav Ilyin

Yaroslav Ilyin. Photo courtesy of the subject

Yaroslav Ilyin. Photo courtesy of the subject

Taking part in student contests is one of the easiest ways to enter a Master’s program at ITMO, because you always risk not getting enough points when you are taking exams. For instance, my friend scored 100 points for his entrance exam – but so did another dozen applicants. As a result, 5 students with the highest GPA in their diploma took the tuition-free positions, while my friend had to start his studying on a tuition-based one. 

I decided to participate in the Mega Contest and signed up for every track I could compete in to up my chances. In total, I took part in five tracks: Software Engineering & Computer Technologies, Computational Modeling Methods, Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Technologies & Networks, and Industrial Backend.

It wasn’t easy to perform in all of them, but luckily, the contest’s rounds were held on weekends and it was possible to choose the most convenient time slot. In the morning, I’d complete the final round in one track, and in the evening – in another. Typically, the knowledge you receive in class is enough to solve the tasks, however you will also benefit from solving the demos and checking the list of recommended literature. As for the hardest tasks, I relied on my work experience and out-of-the-box solutions. 

I won in the tracks Cloud Technologies & Networks and Industrial Backend, so I was able to get into a program offered by the faculty where I completed my Bachelor’s degree. I am continuing my studies here, because I know ITMO, I know what to expect from my classes – and I know that my expectations will be met.

Artem Shashulovsky

Artem Shashulovsky. Photo courtesy of the subject

Artem Shashulovsky. Photo courtesy of the subject

I entered my Bachelor’s program thanks to a student contest, so when the time came to apply for a Master’s degree, I decided to rely on the same method. I took part in the I Am a Professional contest, but no luck – I didn’t get enough points to win; I also participated in two Mega Contest tracks: Software Engineering & Computer Technologies and Cloud Technologies & Networks. These tracks are closest to what I do in my studies and work. 

In the selection round, we had to solve a multiple-choice test and write a short bit of code. For the final round in Cloud Technologies & Networks, I wrote a deployment configuration for an app using Kubernetes, and for Software Engineering & Computer Technologies – I completed the test and submitted some code. As a result, I won the latter track, and now I am a Master’s student at ITMO. I didn’t consider any other universities, because I wanted to stay in the city and the other universities that offer programs in AI and programming didn’t appeal to me.

Vyacheslav Strashilin

Vyacheslav Strashilin at the educational forum for winners of ITMO's Mega Contest. Photo by Dmitry Grigoryev / ITMO.NEWS

Vyacheslav Strashilin at the educational forum for winners of ITMO's Mega Contest. Photo by Dmitry Grigoryev / ITMO.NEWS

I first took part in the Mega Contest in my third year. On the one hand, I was curious to try, and on the other – I was hoping to secure a tuition-free position in a Master’s program even before I graduate with a Bachelor’s degree. 

My Bachelor’s program was in photonics and optoinformatics, so I studied primarily computation and mathematical modeling in quantum systems. That’s why I didn’t face any problems with the tasks of the Computational Modeling Methods track. However, it was important to find unconventional solutions. The selection round tested our theoretical knowledge, and the final round took several days: I wrote functions to compute quantum interactions and then defended them in front of an expert jury. As a result, I became the winner in my track. 

In my Master’s studies, I decided to complement my technical education with an IT degree, so I chose the program Programming and Artificial Intelligence. And I decided to stay at ITMO because I like the university. Ever since I came here as a Bachelor’s student, I’ve been part of various activities, such as ITMO.Megabattle, the Adapters student club, and the student counsel of Vyazemskaya dormitory. I love ITMO for its wonderful people and the abundant opportunities it offers.