Programming a victory: computing science students win first place

Coached by TWU professor, Alma Barranco-Mendoza, PhD, students Winston Ewert, Brian Donahoe and David Somers-Harris took first place in the Novice category and placed second overall in the Sixth Annual International Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) Programming Contest, held at Taylor University this spring.

The team competed against 36 other novice and senior undergraduate teams from several CCCU universities, winning first place in the Novice category. The team was one problem away from placing first in the entire contest.

“Our team was leading the entire competition,” explains Barranco-Mendoza, Assistant Professor of Computing Science. “If they had been able to submit the third problem in time—which they completed correctly—they would have won the entire competition, beating both novice and senior teams.”

This was quite a feat, considering the odds against the team. Not only were Ewert, Donahoe, and Somers-Harris novice competitors—meaning they had never before competed in a computer contest—but they are also all first-year computing science students. “Personally, I'm excited by the fact that these were first-year students,” says Barranco-Mendoza. “This means that we have a very strong team to compete in future competitions.”

The competition required teams of three programmers to solve up to nine problems using C++, C, or Java, ranging in difficulty from medium to very high. The scores were based upon the teams' speed, accuracy and effective team work. Barranco-Mendoza says that in a field such as computing science where programmers are used to working alone, it was an interesting twist to only allowed one computer per team. Fortunately her team thrived. “There was a very nice synergy among the three of them,” she says.

Though relatively new, Trinity Western University's computing science program is growing quickly, offering four major streams of study, focusing on applications, programming, theory, and mathematics.

Trinity Western University, located in Langley, B.C., is a not-for-profit Christian liberal arts university enrolling over 3,300 students this year. With a broad based, liberal arts and sciences curriculum, the University offers undergraduate degrees in 39 major areas of study ranging from business, education and computer science to biology and nursing, and 14 other graduate degrees including counselling psychology, theology and administrative leadership.

Last Updated: 2007-10-11
Author: Erin Mussolum