Kacy Buxton/ The Mainstream
Computer science majors (left to right: Jordan Smith, Kohlton Kuczler, Gunner Campman and Bryce Knott) took first place in the AMC international Collegiate Programming Contest, or ACM-ICPC for short. 

Programming team wins 2019 state programming competition

The UCC programming team won the 2019 Oregon state division of the 2 ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest.This was the first time in the college’s history that UCC students participated in the Pacific Northwest Regional ACM-ICPC, and they were the only Oregon community college participating.

“The AMC International Collegiate Programming Contest is categorized as a multi-tier, team-based, programming competition and involves a global network of universities hosting regional competitions that advance teams to the ACM-ICPC World Finals,” said Vincent Yip, an associate professor of computer science and computer information systems at UCC. Since it began in 1970, the competition has grown to more than 2,000 universities from over 91 countries that participate.

“I’ve wanted our students to participate in the competition for a few years,” Yip said. “However, at the time I did not have the extra time to commit to the project.  Last year I finally found time to form a group of computer science students to join the competition.”

The teams in the competition are made up of groups of three participants with one reserve team member per group. The UCC team students were Jordan Smith, Kohlton Kuczler and Bryce Knott with Gunnar Campman as a reserve. These students are all UCC computer science majors who are part of the ACM Programming Club.

The ACM Programming Club, not connected to UCC’s Computer Club, was set up to help the team prepare for the competition.  Through Canvas, the Programming Club had access to programming resources and practice questions which were given to the team each week. This allowed the team to have lots of opportunity to practice for the competition. The team also set aside time weekly to meet and practice, which they started doing last spring term.

“The team didn’t really know what to expect.”

—Jordan Smith

“Going into the competition, the team didn’t really know what to expect.  We didn’t really know how experienced the other competitors were and how difficult the challenges were going to be,” Jordan Smith said.

George Fox held the contest on Nov. 9, 2019.  The UCC team came first having solved eight problems with a time score of 835. The times are calculated according to a specific contest algorithm. The second-place team, Team 1 from Oregon State University, also solved eight problems, but with a slower time of 946. Third-place went to teamName.cpp from Linfield College. They solved seven problems with a time of 541.

Within their time of 835 for eight problems, the UCC team also placed 13th in the 2019 Pacific Northwest Regional Contest Division 2. The team from San Francisco University barely beat UCC by solving eight problems with a time of 769.  The team just below UCC was from De Anza College; they also solved eight problems and had a time of 863.

The UCC team had to wait to know if they had placed because the competition judges checked the results overnight, delaying the award for winning the 2019 Oregon state division 2 ACM-ICPC until after the day of the contest. Once the results were in, the medals were mailed to the college.

“The experience of the competition was incredibly fun,” said Smith. “It was nice being able to solve problems with my teammates while also being able to see how well we were doing compared to other schools.”

Yip hopes to start training a new team this winter term, but this will depend on students’ schedules and if a new team is interested in competing.

UCC’s current programming team will be transferring to four-year universities to finish earning their computer science degrees. The 2019 team has mentioned they would be willing to help train a new team and help pass on what they have learned. •

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