Computer Science Students Put to the Test
Moravian Teams Successfully Compete at Collegiate Programming Contest
Preparation paid off for the Moravian College computer science majors who competed against peers from fellow Pennsylvania universities and colleges in early November. Two three-person teams represented Moravian at the 2013 Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) International Collegiate Programming Contest for the Mid-Atlantic Region, capturing fifth and ninth place, respectively. Hosted at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, the competitive regional site featured a field of 25 student squads.
The Nov. 2 event drew students from Bucknell University, King’s College, Lafayette College, Lehigh University, Susquehanna University, The University of Scranton, Ursinus College, Villanova University, West Chester University and Wilkes. Teams were challenged to use their programming skills, creativity and business sense to solve complex, real-world problems under a five-hour deadline. The Wilkes event was one of eight host sites in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Ben Coleman, associate professor of computer science at Moravian, called the College’s two top 10 finishes at the site “respectable,” adding “our teams should be pleased with how they fared against their peers.”
ABOVE: Myles Barros ’14 (from left), Alek Szilagyi ’14 and Elliot Ronaghan ’13 captured ninth place at the programming contest.
Allison Samson ’14, Jason Boccoti ’15 and Vincent Pillinger ’17 combined to take home fifth place, edging classmates Myles Barros ’14, Alek Szilagyi ’14 and Elliot Ronaghan ’13, who recorded a ninth-place finish. A team from Lafayette captured first place.
The Moravian teams began training for the contest at the start of the fall semester, meeting once a week with Coleman to prepare for the five-hour competition. The event consisted of each team using a single computer to design and then implement a solution to eight problems.
“Leading up to the contest, we go over previous problems, talk about strategies, talk about common problem types, and then practice solving these problems,” explained Coleman. “It is a great opportunity for them to practice working in teams and get the skills they need to be successful in these contests. Plus, it is a great way to build the community within the program.”
While the benefits of the training are obvious at the competition, they also have long-term advantages, Coleman added.
“Our students get to see that the material that we cover in a number of our courses actually can be used to solve problems,” he said. “Additionally, this competition is something that they can put on their resumes. Companies all know what the programming contests are and what’s involved.”
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