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Students to Face Off in 'Battle of the Brains' at U.Va.

From U.Va. Top News Daily
November 3, 2003

By Brandon Marshall Miller

U.Va. is going to be taken over by computers. Don't worry, it's not an alien invasion, but a computer-programming competition for engineering students.

Twenty teams representing seven schools from Virginia, six nearby states and the District of Columbia will participate in this year's regional contest, which will be held at U.Va.’s School of Engineering and Applied Science. The competition will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 8, in Olsson Hall.

The annual contest, now in its 28th year, draws thousands of college participants from around the world for a "battle of the brains.” Under IBM's sponsorship over the past seven years, participation has grown from 3,750 students to 23,000 students.

"This program and contest provide a way for our students to sharpen their skills in a fun, competitive environment," said David Brogan, assistant professor of computer engineering and a faculty advisor and coach to the U.Va. teams.

In the contest, student teams are given eight or more complex, real-world problems and five hours in which to build software systems to solve them. The problems are designed to test programming skill, creativity and teamwork. The team that solves the most problems correctly in the least amount of time will advance to the next level of competition.

Each team’s success depends on its members' logical skills, strategic abilities and mental endurance. To solve the problems, teams will be writing programs in Java and C++ on PCs equipped with the Linux operating system.

Competing for the University will be four teams, each comprised of three engineering students. U.Va.undergraduate engineering students participating in the contest include computer science majors David Chu, J.J. Faminella, J.J. Frankovich, Chris Frost, Ryan Milligan, and Dan Nguyen; and computer engineering majors Xung Nham, Andrew Love, Matt Hill, and Paul Bui. Matt Suhocki, a graduate student in computer science, is also competing.

Once the results are in from the regional competitions in 68 countries, 70 to 120 teams will advance to the finals in Prague, Czech Republic, March 28-April 1. In the eleven years that U.Va. has participated in the competition, University teams have reached the World Finals three times.

"I enjoy the puzzle-solving challenge," said David Chu, fourth-year student and one of the team members. He, like his teammates, is hoping that the regional competition will be the first step on the way to the international battle of the brains.


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