For the third straight year, Valencia College’s computer programming students won the team programming competition at the Fifth Annual Intercollegiate Programming Competition.
The event, which was held on Saturday, April 11, included students from Valencia, Eastern Florida State College, St. Johns River State College and Seminole State College. The students competed for both team and individual prizes.
Valencia won the team trophy — which can be seen in Building 9, room 140, on West Campus — and in the individual competition, Valencia students won the top two awards. Valencia student Ricky Lagow placed first, Frank Nkosi Dean came in second and Seminole State student Taylor Gratzer placed third.
The first place winner received $500, the second-place winner received $250 and the third-place winner received $100. The prize money was provided by a grant from the National Science Foundation.
During the three-hour competition — which is held online so students don’t have to travel hundreds of miles to compete — the students are given programming problems that range from easy to extremely difficult.
“They have three hours to solve 8 problems,” says Valencia computer programming professor Colin Archibald. “When they have the code solution, they submit it online to the judges and the judges run it and see if it matches.”
To prepare for the competition, Archibald and Valencia professor Mahendra Gossai spend the months before the contest helping about 50 Valencia programming students study problems from previous competitions.
“We will take as many who want to (compete),” says Archibald. “Everybody is encouraged to go and join the community and have a look and see if they want to compete or not.”
This year, about 13 Valencia students competed on April 11, though several bowed out because the competition was held the same weekend as another big event – MegaCon, the Orlando comic-gaming-pop culture convention that attracts more than 30,000 geeks and pop-culture nerds from around the Southeast.
“We had a conflict with MegaCon this year, which we didn’t know about,” says Archibald. “It turns out a lot of really good programmers want to go to MegaCon. Who knew?”
Lagow, who won first place last year, repeated his victory this year. And Dean, who placed second last year, again came in second place.
The judges, professional programmers from Lockheed Martin, Sea World and FIEA, noted that Gratzer of Seminole State was the only competitor who solved the competition’s most difficult problem.
Valencia has won the team trophy four out of the five years of competition. The Team trophy is decided by adding the scores for the top four programmers at each college. The top programmers at Valencia this year were Lagow, Dean and Kohai Arai, Robert Brown, and Ron Marrow, who were all tied for third and fourth places.