The recent winners of a spot in a prestigious international Computer Science and Mathematics challenge competition are going to have to brush up on their Russian – and quickly.
A team of University of Lethbridge Computer Science and Physics students, coached by Dr. Howard Cheng, placed second of 49 teams from western Canada and the northwestern United States in the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) Rocky Mountain competition at the end of October.
The team’s success landed three members of the U of L group -- for the first time -- on the elite roster of competitors at the ICPC World Finals to be held in St. Petersburg, Russia, June 30 to July 4, 2013.
“The team also won a warm-up event two weeks before the regional contest (the Alberta Collegiate Programming Contest) where we took the top spot in the province, and the students have put in a tremendous amount of training into this effort,” Cheng said.
“They trained for hours on weekends as well as a few evenings just before the regional contest. This is in addition to the years of practices they have had, including taking a course (CPSC 3200) that teaches many of the topics they had to know for this contest. Top IT employers such as IBM and Google value these contests and commonly test applicants with programming contest puzzles during interviews, so there is definitely career-related aspect to knowing how these types of puzzles work.”
“This is an outstanding achievement for our students and their coaching and mentoring group,” said Dr. Chris Nicol, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science at the U of L.
“Howard has done an excellent job of building up the teams’ strength and developing their real-world experience in mathematics and computer science through these competitions. They have been consistently successful at regional competitions, and that success is now paying off. We wish them well in their future efforts at the world finals in Russia this summer.”
Photo – Front row, left: Hugh Ramp: 4th year Physics; right: Dr. Howard Cheng (Mathematics and Computer Science), team coach; Back row, left: Chris Martin: 3rd year Computer Science; right: Darcy Best: 2nd year MSc Mathematics.
The international event is hosted by St. Petersburg National Research University of Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics (ITMO). Only 115 of the top teams world-wide make it to the World Finals.
The events leading up to, and including, the St.Petersburg events are a gruelling series of problem-solving boot camps, competitions and drills designed to enhance the students’ ability to work as a team under relentless pressure, the watchful eyes of the world’s best judges and extremely strict working conditions.
At the ACM Rocky Mountain Regional Contest at the University of Alberta on October 27, the U of L teams placed second, 12th, 28th, and 34th of 49 groups.
The team members are: Darcy Best, Chris Martin, Hugh Ramp, Rio Lowry, Chris Thomas, Kim Wikkerink, Mark Hunter, Ian Stewart, Fei Wang, Camara Lerner, Jason Racine and Vince Weiler.
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