Mt. Allison computer science students to compete in the “Olympics of programming competitions”
11/9/2017 1:37:47 PM
ACM_CSProgrammingThree Mount Allison University computer science students will be part of what’s been dubbed the ‘Olympics of Programming Competitions’ when they compete in the Association for Computing Machinery’s International Collegiate Programming Contest’s (ACM-ICPC) regional competition for the Northeast North America region.

The MTA Rogue Three team, made up of computer science students Lucas Wood, Olivier Bourgeois, and James Black, will take part in the 2017 Northeast North America Regional Contest on November 11. They will compete remotely, gathering with other qualifying Maritime teams at Dalhousie University.

“We’re excited to have another student team reach the regional competition this year,” says Dr. Liam Keliher, Mount Allison math and computer science professor and team coach. “At this level, our students are competing against teams from Harvard and MIT. It’s a challenging competition but shows the high calibre of our students.”

The Mt. Allison team placed second in the Atlantic Canada competition earlier this fall. For the Northeast North America contest, they will be up against 12 to 16 programming teams from across Atlantic Canada, Quebec, and the Northeastern United States. The winner will advance to the world competition being held in Beijing, China in April 2018.

The competition takes place over five hours during which teams attempt to solve up to 10 programming challenges.

“You’re trying to solve as many problems as you can in this timeframe,” says Black, a third-year computer science major from Oxford, NS. “The three-member teams are using one computer so we divide a lot of the work up to get as much done as possible.”

Preparation work for the competitions is done outside of regular class work. The MTA Rogue Three team meets up twice a week over the school year for two to three hours at a time and team members also work independently.

“It’s taught us all a lot of practical skills,” says Wood, who is also from Oxford, NS and will graduate this spring. “You get a chance to put the theories you’re learning in your classes to use in a different context for these competitions. I enjoy it a lot, it’s really interesting.”

And this activity is also helpful not only to their university education experience but for the future. All three students say this additional training has helped them with future job prospects in computer programming.

“It’s really like job training for some fields,” says Bourgeois, who is from Shediac, NB and will graduate this spring. “I am doing onsite interviews with Google next week. I don’t think that would have been possible without this kind of education and experience.”

Photo caption (left to right): Mount Allison computer science students James Black, Olivier Bourgeois, and Lucas Wood will compete in the Associations for Computing Machinery’s International Collegiate Programming Contest’s (ACM-ICPC) regional competition for the Northeast North America region this weekend.