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TTU News

The nerve-wracking speed drills of elementary school multiplication tables are nothing compared to the Association for Computing Machinery’s Mid-Central Regional Collegiate Programming Contest sponsored by IBM.

Just ask Tennessee Tech University’s team of computer science students who earned a 10th place overall finish in the annual programming contest, making TTU the only institution in the state to finish with a top 10 regional ranking for two consecutive years.

“Normally, programming students are allowed to take a week or two to complete an assignment, but these groups of intrepid students were given only five hours to complete up to eight problems,” said Martha Kosa, associate professor of computer science at TTU.

Approximately 100 teams from Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas, Indiana and even portions of Canada competed simultaneously at several satellite sites for a chance to go to the world finals in Prague in March 2004.

The university’s own Bruner Hall hosted a total of 11 teams from the area. Each group, with a personal computer at its disposal, had to write working programs for problems that ranged from creating a treadmill sequence to developing tournament brackets.

TTU’s winning team, consisting of Daniel Balasubramanian, Marc Santoro and Jason Wyatt, solved four of the eight problems to beat groups from Austin Peay State University, Middle Tennessee State University, Western Kentucky University, Belmont University and Maryville College.

Kosa said the programming contest is an excellent learning experience because it reinforces problem-solving skills, fosters cooperation among students and forces students to budget their time.

Along with Kosa, systems administrator Eric Brown and departmental secretary Valerie Nash helped plan and organize the event at TTU’s site. Instructor Mark Boshart, assistant professors Mike Rogers and Doug Talbert and students Mark Arrieta, Rachel Bachman, Rob Dye, Jeremy Ey, Jill Hannah, Michael Perera, Edward Roush, Joe Schutte and Luis Valazco helped the university’s team members prepare for the event.

The top two teams in the region were from the University of Illinois and Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.