NWC to host regional programming contest

Northwestern College will play host to 19 three-student teams representing six colleges in a regional competition of the 34th annual Association for Computer Machinery International Collegiate Programming Contest on Saturday, Oct. 31. Teams from Northwestern, Augustana College, Briar Cliff University, Dordt College, Morningside College and the University of South Dakota will compete in Van Peursem Hall.

Northwestern will be one of at least 16 sites in the north central region, which includes Iowa, Kansas, Manitoba, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, western Ontario and Wisconsin. At least one team from the region will advance to the 100-team world finals, which will be held in Harbin, China, next February. Last year, Northwestern was the smallest U.S. school to have a team invited to the world finals in Stockholm, Sweden.

Two members of Northwestern’s 2009 world-finalist team, John Calsbeek and Curt Van Wyk, will again be competing. Six other teams from Northwestern will participate. Northwestern teams have finished in the top 10 regionally for three consecutive years.

“Participation is through the roof,” says Mike Wallinga, instructor in computer science at Northwestern. “Our success last year definitely played a role in that. Students are challenging each other to participate and displaying some friendly competition.”

Referred to as the Battle of the Brains, the competition challenges students to solve real-world problems using open technology and advanced computing methods under a grueling five-hour deadline. “It offers students the opportunity to work in a team setting while solving challenging problems that are a little more outside-the-box than you typically see in a textbook,” says Wallinga. “It’s also a chance for students from several schools to interact with each other and enjoy the common bond they share of studying computer science.”

The Battle of the Brains is the largest and most prestigious computing competition in the world, with students from universities in approximately 90 countries on six continents participating. Since IBM began sponsoring the contest in 1997, participation has grown from 1,100 to more than 7,100 teams.