Last February, the UT Dallas Computer Science Department’s Outreach program began the 2016 year with their semi-annual statewide “Battle of the Brains: High School Programming Contest.” Approximately 110 teams comprising 300 high schools students from all over North Texas, participated in the contest this spring. Several student teams also drove up from Houston, Austin, and Louisiana. With the support of State Farm Insurance sponsoring the event, registration for the Spring’16 competition was free.
The contest, which follows ACM (Association of Computing Machinery) International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) style, is held twice a year on the UT Dallas campus. Dr. Ivor Page, UT Dallas CS professor, the driving force behind the contest, has been organizing and overseeing the contest for over a decade. Dr. Jey Veerasamy, director of Center for Computer Science Education & Outreach, provided support to Dr. Page by managing the logistics of the contest, as well as assisting in the organization entire event year after year.
The spring contest began on the morning of Saturday, February 27th, with Dr. Gopal Gupta, UT Dallas CS Department Head, and Professor, welcoming the visiting high school teams and teachers with a presentation on the many benefits of obtaining an undergraduate degree in computer science at UT Dallas. Dr. Gupta expressed the importance of these contests saying, “Programming competitions are great, as they expose bright, motivated students to our program and environment at the UT Dallas Computer Science Department.”
Following Dr. Gupta’s opening statements, students adjourned to the computer labs to start the 40-minute practice portion of the contest. Immediately following the practice portion was the main contest, lasting three hours. Teams of up to three high school students competed in simultaneous Novice and Advanced contests. Each competing team was given five to six problems to solve for each level and was allowed to use only one of UT Dallas’ lab computers. To solve the problems, the students used Java 1.7, minGW G++, and Microsoft Visual Studio C, C++, and C#. Integrated Development Environments (IDE) included minGW, Eclipse, and NetBeans. The contest utilized PC2 (Programming Contest Control system) for semi-automatic judging.
Prior to announcing the winners, Sachin Buche, State Farm Systems Analyst spoke to the teams of high school programmers and their teachers about the importance of such coding competitions and future CS/SE career opportunities within State Farm Insurance. During his opening remarks, he spoke about the impact that the growing world of technology has on the future of State Farm by drawng examples from new technologic advances such as autonomous cars and drone technology. Mr. Buche concluded his introduction by encouraging the students to “keep working on these skills, be curious, ask questions, and continue the great work.”
In announcing the winners, Dr. Page commented on the difficulty of problems presented at the Spring 2016 Contest saying, “We had a great day, with a somewhat more difficult set of problems than in previous contests. For the first time in a long time, no team solved all the problems in the advanced packet. Nevertheless, every problem was solved by at least one team.”
After all opening remarks were finished, the announcement of the winners began. In the novice category, Plano West Senior High School placed first, followed by Richardson High School N1, and McKinney Boyd High School. For the advanced category, Richardson High School A1 placed first, followed by Liberty High School, and Plano Senior High School A1.
The next programming contest for high school students will take place next fall, on October 29th, with plans to hold parallel contests in Houston and Austin with all teams everywhere working on the same problem sets.
Advanced Third Place – Plano Senior High School A1
Advanced Second Place – Liberty High School
Advanced First Place – Richardson High School A1
Novice Third Place – McKinney Boyd High School
Novice Second Place – Richardson High School N1
Novice First Place – Plano West Senior High School
Sachin Buche of State Farm
Dr. Ivor Page
From the left: Dr. Ivor Page and Dr. Gopal Gupta
Please click here to view additional photos from the Spring’16 Battle of the Brains: High School Coding Competition & click here to see photos from past UT Dallas CS related events.
About the UT Dallas Computer Science Department
The UT Dallas Computer Science program is one of the largest Computer Science departments in the United States with over 1,600 bachelor’s-degree students, more than 1,100 master’s students, 160 PhD students, and 80 faculty members, as of Fall 2015. With The University of Texas at Dallas’ unique history of starting as a graduate institution first, the CS Department is built on a legacy of valuing innovative research and providing advanced training for software engineers and computer scientists.