NDSU Computer Science Competition

North Dakota State computer science students recently have been winning and taking home top awards from competitions and events. The five regional and national events include Mech Mania, Digi-Key, the International Collegiate Programming Contest, the International Aerial Robotics Competition and a national contest of cybersecurity challenges through the National Cyber League.

Abdullah Almosalmi, a sophomore computer science major, and her team had the first win this past summer at the International Aerial Robotics Competition, winning for technical achievement.

The International Aerial Robotics Competition began in 1991 and is the longest-running university collegiate aerial robotics contest. The competition’s focus is to “tackle challenges that are currently impossible for any flying robots owned by government or industry.”

At Mech Mania, hosted by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, two NDSU teams won top spots. Computer science sophomores Wyly Andrews, David Schwartz and Eric Myers took home first place, while another team finished third. That team consisted of computer science students Aaron Buchholz, senior, and Chris Bernard, junior, and electrical engineering senior Haiming Lou.

Mech Mania, according to the University of Illinois — UC, is a “24-hour programming contest in which teams of students from various schools compete to create an AI capable of playing (and winning) a strategy game that we have developed for the event.”

NDSU teams placed first and second at the Digi-Key contest, making it only the second time in the history of the competition that one school won both first and second place. The teams not only took home placements, but also awards for themselves and for the university, approximately $10,000.

The first-place team consisted of Buchholz and Bernard, continuing their winning streak from Mech Mania. The second-place team consisted of juniors Riley Conlin and Ajay Brown and sophomore Wren Erickson.

The Digi-Key Collegiate Computing Competition is a university contest sponsored by regional employer Digi-Key, with the purpose of recruiting and promoting computer science related fields.

At the International Collegiate Programming Contest, sponsored by the Association for Computing Machinery, in October, NDSU teams took first and third. The top team consisted of Brown, Buchholz and Conlin, while the third-place team was made up of Andrews, Myers and Jeremy Jaeger, senior.

“The ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest, or ICPC, is a multitier, team-based, programming competition operating under the auspices of ACM and headquartered at Baylor University.” There is an NDSU chapter for the Student Association for Computing Machinery, led by adviser Anne Denton.

Anne Denton commented following the winning streak: “Our programming teams have had a fabulous competition season.” As well as advising, Denton coaches the teams that competed in Mech Mania, Digi-Key and other programming competitions.

Two NDSU students, through the National Cyber League team, competed in a national level contest of cybersecurity challenges, and out of 3,176 competitors, they ranked 24th and 26th.

Although NDSU has been offering computer science courses since 1973, the department was not founded until 1988. It now offers two bachelor’s degree programs, three master’s programs and two doctoral degrees, computer science and software engineering.

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