Tennessee Tech students placed third and fourth out of 15 teams who competed at Murray State University in the annual contest, which is sponsored by the Association for Computing Machinery. They were part of a multi-site competition involving 70 teams from a six state region, who tested their abilities in coding, critical thinking, time management and communication.
In a tense five-hour event, student teams worked feverishly to solve as many of seven programming problems as they could. Writing working programs in their choice of C, C++ or Pascal programming languages, the students tackled topics that ranged from solving jigsaw puzzles to computing the length of the shortest path through a chamber with obstructing walls.
Tennessee Tech's teams scored ahead of students from the host university, as well as from the University of Tennessee at Martin and Belmont University in Nashville. A team from Rhodes College in Memphis won at the Murray site with Austin Peay State University placing second.
"It was a team effort. Everyone contributed," said Matt Malone, a junior computer science major from Cookeville. "The hardest part was spending five grueling hours coding on the fly on an all-candy diet. But that was also the most fun part. This is the kind of thing that computer people get a kick out of."
And, Malone added, "I don't complain about two-week deadlines anymore!"
Joining him on the team that placed fourth were senior William Morefield of Newport and Benji York, a junior from Shelbyville. A team consisting of senior Aaron Maddux of Kingsport, junior Jason Pace of Big Sandy and senior Kelly Shadden of Kingston placed third. Both teams were coached by Martha Kosa, assistant professor of computer science.
Kosa, who has advised the teams for several years, calls the contest "an excellent learning experience for everyone because it reinforces problem-solving skills, fosters cooperation and forces students to budget their limited time."
Tennessee Tech is no stranger to success in programming competitions. In 1990, a team placed first in the entire Southeast region and went on to compete in the national finals. In 1993, a team placed fourth at Murray. A team placed third in 1994 and second last year.