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KNOXVILLE — Three University of Tennessee, Knoxville, teams will compete in the Association for Computing Machinery International’s regional-level Collegiate Programming Contest on Oct. 24.

The UT teams will compete against teams from Tennessee Technological University, Austin Peay State University, East Tennessee State University and Maryville College.

Sponsored by IBM, the event will be held at Tennessee Technological University. Coached by Wesley Bland, a doctoral student in electrical engineering and computer science, and Bruce MacLennan, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science, the teams are:

  • Team One: Warren Dewit, Evan Downing, James Hitchcock
  • Team Two: Chad Armstrong, Stephen Deguglielmo, Aaron Guernsey
  • Team Three: Joshua Dunn, Doug Slater, Tyler Sells

The competition requires teams to solve complex problems within a five-hour time limit.

Bland, who has competed in the competition for the past five years — first as an undergraduate with Tennessee Tech and then as a graduate student with UT — understands the challenge the teams face.

“Score is determined by how many problems you solve and how fast you solve them,” he said. “The biggest challenge of the contest is working together with your teammates to manage the time on your team’s computer efficiently. Imagine that you are working in a team to write seven papers for a class, but only one of you can type at a time.

“It has a lot of the same excitement as competing in a sport,” he said. “When you play basketball, you are working together to try to score more than the other teams. In this contest, we do the same thing. We have rules and a score and we want to do better than everyone else.”

Team member and chairman of UT’s ACM Programming Team, Evan Downing, a freshman majoring in computer science and mathematics, will compete for the first time. He knows it will be a challenge, but accepts it willingly.

“Being able to compete in a competition on something I hold so dear is extremely important to me,” he said. “The way I see it, I don’t really care about winning as much as I care about having fun and learning at these competitions. Don’t get me wrong, I would be absolutely thrilled to win at a programming competition, but never at the expense of having fun ‘coding’ with my friends.”

IBM has sponsored the contest since 1997, and it continues to grow. The competition includes schools from all over the world: 1,821 universities from 83 countries on six continents compete.

Doug Heintzman, director of strategy at IBM Software Group and sponsorship executive of the ICPC, thinks the competition promotes a more worldly view.

“The competition was a 90 percent North American event. About 10 years ago it began to change in a very big way,” he said. “There are bright people all over the planet, and bringing them together is very exciting. I look for new names when I look at the finals list. When Oxford first entered last year, I was excited. It’s a big world and there are smart people everywhere, which is wonderful and we should embrace that.”

UT has never made it to a finals competition, but Downing feels optimistic about the regional competition on Saturday.

“I expect we’ll do pretty well,” he said. “This competition’s more of a trial-run for UT’s ACM Programming Team. The only thing I want out of this first competition is to have fun and nothing more. Winning and losing are just minor details in the grand scheme of things.”

Only 100 teams advance to the World Finals in February in Harbin, China. For information about previous contests, problems sets or last year’s final standings, visit http://icpc.baylor.edu/icpc/ or IBM’s contest page at http://www.ibm.com/university/acmcontest.

C O N T A C T :

Bridget Hardy, (865-974-2225, bhardy4@utk.edu)

Amy Blakely, (865-974-5034, amy.blakely@tennessee.edu)