Chris Gau trying his luck at the dunk tank
Fellow information & computer sciences students watch as Chris Gau tries his luck at the dunk tank on ICS Day.

Here’s a surefire way to relieve midterm tension: dunk an instructor – and a classmate or two – in a tank of tepid water.

Amid taunts of “Whatcha aimin’ at?” and “My grandma can throw better than you!” students lined up outside the ICS building May 12 for the chance to soak volunteers. It was part of a daylong festival organized entirely by student organizations from the Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences.

Jerry Huynh, a computer science & engineering major and president-elect of the year-old ICS Student Council, said the event was designed to strengthen the ICS community, which includes nearly 850 undergraduates and about 340 graduate students. The council comprises leaders from several student groups, including Women in Information & Computer Sciences and the Informatics Student Association.

“It’s great to see everyone out here together, laughing and cheering, as one ICS family,” said Huynh, who took a turn in the dunk tank – and loved it. “We all work really hard, and to see everyone having fun when it’s Week 7 and we’re about to go into the second round of midterms. … You know it’s going to be a grind, but this day is making people happy and giving them a chance to bond. That’s the best part.”

In addition to the popular dunk tank attraction, the fourth annual ICS Day – sponsored in part by Experian, Blizzard Entertainment, Salesforce and Associated Students of UCI – featured a coding competition, a demonstration of student-developed video games, free food and T-shirts, karaoke, a chance to network with potential employers, and a mystery game tournament.

“I’m so proud of the student organizations that came together to make ICS Day possible,” said Neha Rawal, one of the school’s undergraduate counselors. “I’m impressed by their teamwork and project management skills; this truly is an extension of what they’re learning and doing in the lab and in the classroom. And it shows that ICS majors have a strong sense of community. They know how to celebrate who they are, and they know how to have fun.”

ICS Day kicked off with a coding competition in which students raced to write code for a program that could automatically rank a fictional prosecution team’s evidence in a high-profile court case. Computer science & engineering major David Ho won, successfully completing it in 37 minutes; informatics major Ryan Skinner took second, with a time of 49 minutes.

The video game demo included five entries from past Game Jam competitions organized by UCI’s Video Game Development Club. Game Jam calls for student designers, artists and programmers to team up and create a game within one week, using completely original code, art and sound. At ICS Day, students, faculty and staff tested the games and voted for their favorite. This year, the People’s Choice Award – and a $100 cash prize to cover fees associated with the game’s eventual publication to the Xbox Live Indie arcade – went to team Rainbow Dice Games for “Camera Obscura.”

On the low-tech front, a dozen students competed in the mystery game single-elimination tournament, with “oohs,” “aahs” and the occasional “No way!” greeting the introduction of each surprise round. Business information management major Ben Pan took the top prize and the title of “Awesome!” by besting his classmates in Rock ’Em Sock ’Em Robots, Nerf Dart Tag, and video games “Puzzle Fighter” and “Jackie Chan in Fists of Fire.”

“Having the opportunity to show our silly side and just have fun is vital to enhancing student life,” said Shannon Tauro, computer science lecturer and spirited dunk tank volunteer. “I’m so impressed and so thankful to the ICS student leaders for taking the time to serve their fellow students and for giving all of us a chance to connect as a community.”