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Battle of the Brains – The 2015 Spring High School Programming Contest

The Computer Science department of the University of Texas at Dallas organized this latest High School Programming Contest on Saturday March 21st from 10am to 4pm. The contest was originally scheduled for February 28th, but due to snow and ice that fell on North Texas that day, the contest had to be rescheduled to March 21st. The contest followed the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) style.

With support from State Farm Insurance, that sponsored this event, registration for the Spring’15 competition was free. Approximately 65 teams, mainly from high schools in North Texas, participated. Several student teams also drove up from Houston and Austin.

The CS department has been organizing two high school programming events each year for more than a decade with Dr. Ivor Page, Professor in Computer Science, as its main driving force.

“Until six years ago, I could manage every aspect of the event, now, however, the competitive programming enterprise is too large for a single person,” said Dr. Ivor Page.

“Nonetheless, preparations for the contest, such as setting the problems and testing them, required one full week of effort,” he continued.

Dr. Page added that judging and proctoring was done by students Ian Braunfeld, Dennis Ryazanov, Abby Lam, Dino Occhialini, and Georgiy Klimenko. Additional organizational support came from Dr. Veerasamy, Senior Lecturer in Computer Science, who ensured that event logistics was above par.

The morning of the contest day started with a practice test lasting 40 minutes and was followed by the 3-hour contest. The students were divided up into teams with up to three participants to compete in concurrent Novice and Advanced contests. The contest utilized PC^2 and the students could use Java 1.7, minGW g++, Microsoft Visual Studio C, C++, C#. Integrated development environments (IDEs) included minGW, Eclipse, and NetBeans. The students were given six to eight problems to solve and were allowed to use only one of UTD’s lab computers for each team.

Before the winners were announced, Sachin Buche, a Senior Executive from State Farm Insurance that sponsored the contest, spoke about career opportunities in State Farm and how the company uses Computer Science and Software Engineering graduates in their operations.

In the novice category, Highland Park N1 High School team placed first, followed by Plano West High School N1 team, and Heritage High School N1 team. In the advanced category, Cy Woods High School A1 team placed first, followed by Plano West A1 team and North Central Texas Academy A1 team. Each winning team went home with a trophy for their respective school and individual medals as well.

The students were not the only ones who had the benefit of learning that day. As part of the program, Dr. William Semper gave a one-hour talk about UTD’s Discrete Math Sequence to the High School Computer Science teachers who accompanied the student contestants. Dr. Ivor Page also spoke about his two-week summer course on advanced problem solving for high school students and teachers.

2015HSprog8March Trophies

First Place Advanced - Cy Woods  - All six problems solved in 376 minutes.
First Place Advanced – Cy Woods High School – All six problems solved in 376 minutes.
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Second Place Advanced – Plano West High School – Five problems solved in 311 minutes
Third Place Advanced - North Central Texas Academy - Five problems solved in 434 minutes
Third Place Advanced – North Central Texas Academy – Five problems solved in 434 minutes
First Place Novice - Highland Park - All eight problems solved in 745 minutes
First Place Novice – Highland Park High School – All eight problems solved in 745 minutes
Second Place Novice - Plano West - Six problems solved in 347 minutes
Second Place Novice – Plano West High School – Six problems solved in 347 minutes
Third Place Novice - Heritage High School - Six problems solved in 443 minutes
Third Place Novice – Heritage High School – Six problems solved in 443 minutes

Numerous other workshops related to teaching computer programming are organized throughout the year by the UTDallas Center for Computer Science Education & Outreach directed by Dr. Jey Veerasamy. A complete list of Computer Science Outreach workshops and upcoming events can be found on the Center’s 2015 calendar.

 

Dr. Jey Veerasamy, Sachin Buche, a Senior Executive from State Farm Insurance, and Dr. Ivor Page speaking to the students about the importance of Computer Science.
Dr. Jey Veerasamy, Sachin Buche, a Senior Executive from State Farm Insurance, and Dr. Ivor Page speaking to the students about the importance of Computer Science.
Dr. Jey Veerasamy and Dr. Ivor Page speaking to the students after the contest.
Dr. Jey Veerasamy and Dr. Ivor Page speaking to the students after the contest. 

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Ian Braunfeld and Dino Occhialini helping Dr. Ivor Page judge and proctor the contest.
Two UTD Computer Science students, Ian Braunfeld and Dino Occhialini, helping Dr. Ivor Page judge and proctor the contest.

 

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