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Bethel Teams Participate in Programming Contest

Bethel computer science students find success at the International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC).

By Aiyanna Klaphake '20

December 04, 2019 | 4 p.m.

In November, 180 teams of students from colleges across the Midwest gathered at the University of Minnesota to participate in the International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) North Central Regional Competition. Of those 180 teams, Bethel computer science students Alex Harker '22, Dominic Hiland '21, and physics major Evan Scharnick '20 placed first in the state, only one spot away from advancing to the North American Championship. A second team consisting of Erin Jagt '20, James Seibel '21, and Tim Urvig '20 ranked 66th in the competition. Both teams participated in a practice contest prior to the November event and reviewed class materials to aid them in answering specific questions.

The contest presented programming challenges to each team of students, who were then allowed a limited time frame to develop a solution. Each group submitted their coded solutions to as many problems as they could complete. Judging considered the validity of the solution and the speed with which the problem was solved. 

Contest participation provided students the opportunity to work with high-level challenges that tested their abilities. "It allows us to stretch our minds," Seibel explains, "and think about unusual problems that we probably would never have seen otherwise."

"The contest did a good job of teaching problem solving skills," Harker agrees, "which is quite important for computer science."

"This could be [helpful] for personal development, gaining a deeper understanding of oneself, or training one's ability to think under pressure," Hiland adds. He attributes his group’s success to their teamwork and deliberate planning: "The most important thing for a team to remember is that their results are very highly influenced by the strategy by which they approach the problems."

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