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Students Showcase Computer Programming Skills in Regional ‘Battle of the Brains’

November 14, 2011

A team of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology computer science and software engineering students earned respect among its collegiate peers, placing a strong fifth out of approximately 140 teams in this year's Association for Computing Machinery's (ACM) Mid-Central USA Region Programming Contest earlier this month in Springfield, Ill.  The showing was a considerable improvement over the 14th-place finish for Rose-Hulman's top team last year.


Programming Problem Solvers: Members of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology's Programming Teams celebrate their accomplishments in the Association for Computing Machinery's Mid-Central USA Region Programming Contest with visiting faculty mentor Alex Lo, a former team member.

This prestigious competition is considered the national championships for collegiate computer programmers -- recognized as "The Battle of the Brains."  This year's problems involved implementing algorithms and strategies to develop solutions.  Three-member teams used their math and computer science knowledge to match programming problems with algorithms, and then applied those algorithms to solve the problems.  

Rose-Hulman's team that featured Tim Ekl, Kenny Gao and Seth Troisi led the regional competition after the first three problem sets, and went on to complete six of the eight problems.  Only the winning team from the University of Illinois was able to complete seven of the eight problems.  The top two teams from each regional advanced to the national competition.

"These competitors are talented problem solvers with acute mental agility and strength of concentration," said Shawn Bohner, professor and director of software engineering at Rose-Hulman.  "Rose-Hulman students performed very well, and demonstrated that they have what it takes to compete with any and all schools in the engineering and science community."

Another Rose-Hulman team, consisting of Arjun Comar, Richard Thai and Eric Vernon, placed 28th in the regional contest.  Meanwhile, an all-freshmen team of Bill D'Attilo, Kyle Dooley and AJ Piergiovanni placed 99th.

"All of our teams were pleased with their results and have already started thinking about how to prepare for next year.  They plan to build even strong teams for next year," said Bohner.

Alex Lo, visiting professor of computer science and software engineering and former Rose-Hulman Programming Team member, joined Bohner in serving as the teams' coaches and competition judges.