For almost a decade, the UT Dallas Computer Science department has been conducting a statewide “Battle of the Brains: High School Programming Contest.” The contest, which follows ACM (Association of Computing Machinery) International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) style, is held twice a year at the UT Dallas campus with Dr. Ivor Page overseeing the contest. The Fall 2015 event was held this past October with the sponsorship of State Farm Insurance. The contest drew a record attendance with more than 120 teams comprising approximately 400 high school students, along with more than forty high school teachers from all over North Texas, including teams coming from top schools in Houston and Austin.
The contest began at ten in the morning with a practice contest lasting forty minutes and was followed by the main contest, which lasted a total of 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 8.45, minGW C++, minGW C, or Microsoft C/C++. The contest utilized PC2 (Programming Contest Control system) for semi-automatic judging. Freshmen Computer Science Computing Scholar (CS2) Honor program members, Darrin Wiley, Terrence Park, and David Stenson provided additional judging and proctoring. Matthew Hermes a teacher from Frisco High School assisted with judging the contest as well. Additional organizational support came from Dr. Jey Veerasamy, Senior Lecturer in Computer Science and Director of the Center for Computer Science Education & Outreach (CCSEO).
Prior to announcing the winners, Bill Miller, State Farm Systems Assistants Vice President, and Lisa Frey, Systems Dallas IT Analyst, both representing the sponsor of the event, State Farm Insurance, spoke to the room of high school programmers and their teachers about the importance of these coding competitions and future CS/SE career opportunities within State Farm Insurance. Considering that the contest was held on Halloween, October 31st, “The problems had a definite spookiness about them.” said Dr. Page. “The problems were tough, but two teams solved all six advanced problems and several teams solved all the novice problems. When the dust had finally settled and pizza boxes neatly stacked,” the winners were announced. In the novice category, St. Dominic High School placed first, followed by Plano West High School, and McKinney Boyd High School placed third. For the advanced category, Heritage High School placed first, followed by Plano West High School, and R.L. Paschal.
While the contest was taking place, the high school teachers were offered lunch and various activities, sponsored by the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT), with the assistance of Dr. Janell Straach.
The next Battle of the Brains High School Programming contest will take place in the Spring of 2016.
Photos from the event.
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.
⇒ Click here to view additional photos from the Battle of the Brains event on the UT Dallas CS Department’s Flickr account. You can also click here to view photos from other UT Dallas CS related events. ⇐