Programming team finishes third in regional contest

Nov. 23, 2010
Contact: Karen B. Eldridge, Director of Communications
865.981.8207; karen.eldridge@maryvillecollege.edu

The Maryville College Computer Programming Team took home third-place honors earlier this month in the 2010 Consortium for Computing Sciences in Colleges (CCSC) Programming Contest.

According to Dr. Barbara Plaut, associate professor of computer science and coach of the MC team, 21 teams from colleges and universities around the Southeast competed in the contest held at Spelman College in Atlanta, Ga. Each team was given eight programming problems to solve. Winners were determined by correctly solving the problems and taking the least amount of time to do so.

Mercer University finished first, correctly solving all eight problems. Maryville College and Wofford College both solved seven problems correctly, but Wofford’s team finished in less time.

“A third place finish is the best we have ever done at this competition,” Plaut said. “We have previously had as high as fifth place.”

Some of the teams finishing behind Maryville College included Augusta State University, Bob Jones University, Christopher Newport University, the Citadel, Furman University, Georgia College, Georgia Perimeter College, Georgia Southwestern State University, Roanoke College and Spelman College.

The MC Programming Team prepares by practicing every Monday afternoon from 4 until 6 p.m. In addition to weekly practice, many team members work on problems outside of practice times.

“I give the students actual problems from previous programming contests to work on,” the faculty advisor said. “These problems cover a wide range of topics and require knowledge of many different programming techniques, algorithms for problem solving, and a lot of mathematical background.

“Students often persist for hours and even days on a single problem,” she added. “This is a particularly dedicated bunch. They enjoy the challenge, and it shows.”

Plaut organized the first team in 2002, which began competing in the fall of 2003. The team started with eight students and has grown steadily to its current high of 19.

Current team members who competed in the CCSC included Travis Donnell, Cameron Fraser, Mark McMillin, Matt Noble, Houston Miller, Justin Montgomery, Patrick Morehead, Stacy Mullinax and Cameron Presley.

Also on the team are Jenny Bivens, Shelby Clarke, Travis Folsom, Rebecca Graves, David Minton, Libby Rodriguez, Nicole Sievers, Dylan Walker, Joseph Williams and Chase Worley.

“It has been a genuine pleasure and a privilege to work with students who have not only the kind of intelligence it takes to do this sort of problem solving, but the drive and motivation,” Plaut said. “Coaching the programming team is the most fun thing about my job, and I am very proud of them!”