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AASU Students Win First Place in Programming Contest

SAVANNAH, GA– A team of three computer science students from Armstrong Atlantic State University, Ruslan Hristov, Abbey Sparrow, and Brian Talley, recently won first place among Division II schools in a regional programming contest sponsored by The Association for Computing Machinery and IBM.

"This win is a reflection of the kinds of students we attract to the computer science department," said Chuck Shipley, professor of computer science at Armstrong Atlantic State University and coach of the programming team. "It also is a reflection of what the department can do for students who study at Armstrong Atlantic."

Multiple teams from thirty-seven colleges and universities throughout the Southeast (Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida) participated in the contest, held at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, Georgia.

The Armstrong team solved four of the eleven problems, ranking them first among the thirty Division II teams and eighth of the seventy-seven participating teams. A second Armstrong team consisting of J.R. Lynch, Michael Ariotti, and Paul Saltsman placed thirty-eighth overall and eleventh in Division II.

Three teams of three students each met one day per week for several hours as part of a programming seminar offered this semester by Shipley. The course is open to all computer science majors and is often taken by those intending to compete in the regional programming contest.

"Each team works together using one computer so they have to learn to work together," said Shipley. "They have only five hours to solve as many problems as they can. I try to simulate that situation in the seminar."

The students learn strategy, such as determining which problems are the easiest and solving those problems first. They also attempt to solve the problems as quickly as possible, as completion time is a factor in deciding how the winners are ranked.

"We don't always win first place, but we are always competitive," said Shipley. This year's team was the best in Shipley's fifteen years of coaching. The last time a team approached this level of success at the competition was in 1994, when the team finished first in Division II and tenth overall.

Since Armstrong will inaugurate a new graduate program in computer science beginning in January, this year marked its last competition in Division II. Division I teams have graduate programs in computer science, and are permitted a limited number of graduate students on a team. Division II teams are from schools without graduate programs in computer science and consist entirely of undergraduates.



October 18, 2001

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