Although the computer science department may not be UD’s largest, their Programming Team successfully competed against other much larger schools at the recent Association for Computing Machinery’s ICPC South Central USA Regional Programming Contest last fall. The group received a University of Dallas Experience Award to help offset the cost of attending the contest.
A group of nine UD students competed in teams of three to solve eleven problems as quickly as possible. Faculty Advisor Dr. Rob Hochberg was very pleased with the team’s success. “Our teams finished 21, 22 and 40 out of the 68 teams in our region, which consists of Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana,” he said. “But, comparing apples to apples, they finished 4, 5 and 10 out of the 23 teams that come from undergraduate institutions.”
Competitions like this one have lasting effects beyond the recognition that goes along with placing well. Katherine Beine, a senior computer science major, said that working on a team helps to teach communication skills. “It helps you learn to communicate about problems and how to solve them,” she said. Peter Lieblang, a freshman attending his first competition, agreed: “It was good to listen to the juniors and seniors and see how they approach solving problems.” Sophomore computer science major Jack Baumann said that preparing for the competition helped him gain other skills as well. “It involves a lot of team cooperation and time management,” he said.
Another benefit of competing is the practical experience. Sophomore Michael Bolot said that the hands-on experience is invaluable. “There’s a big difference between knowing how to do something and actually doing it,” he said.
That kind of practical experience can pay dividends down the road. According to Hochberg, the ability to solve problems in high-pressure situations like the ACM ICPC is something potential employers are looking for. “By participating on our programming team, our students gain experience and practice with interesting problems that are not covered in our standard coursework,” he said. “This practice makes them better programmers, and gives them valuable experience that employers and graduate schools really value.”
UDE awards are designed to encourage students to engage in experiential learning and academically driven growth opportunities so they will be able to present themselves professionally in pursuit of their vocational goals. These opportunities could include presenting research at scholarly or professional conferences or participating in prestigious competitions, festivals, selective auditions, or exhibitions. For more information on University of Dallas Experience awards, click here.