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Drake University students to participate in “Battle of the Brains”

Twelve Drake University students will participate in the 35th annual Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) International Collegiate Programming Contest — the world’s most prestigious international competition in computer programming.

Referred to as ‘Battle of the Brains,’ the competition is sponsored by IBM and draws tens of thousands of student participants from 90 countries on six continents.  Drake students, who are competing in four teams of three, will begin at the regional contest on Saturday, Nov. 6 at Grand View University campus.

There will be teams competing simultaneously across the United States who will all be competing against each other from their remote locations. Of the tens of thousands of college students expected to enter, the top 100 regional team champions will meet in the World Finals, to be held March 3, 2011, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.


Tim Urness, Drake assistant professor of computer science and the teams’ coach, reported that “a good number of student this year have participated in the past, so they have that leadership and some good experience.”


Students prepare for the competition independently through Drake’s computer programming courses and other experience. Competitors major in a variety of areas and range from first-year to senior level students.

“The more programming the students are exposed to, the better they typically do,” Urness said. “Most of our upper-level computer science majors are usually quite competitive, but I’ve also seen a team of freshman students score well.”

The regional contest will challenge teams to solve the equivalent of a semester’s worth of complex, real-world computer programming problems in under a five-hour deadline. The team that solves the most problems correctly in the least amount of time will win a spot on the World Finals roster.

ACM is the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, uniting computing educators, researchers and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources and address the field’s challenges.

“The ACM-ICPC brings together the brightest and most innovative young programmers from all over the world.  This rich talent pool is the lifeblood of our industry, allowing us to more effectively recruit the types of programmers we need to foster the future growth of our industry, said Michael Karasick, vice president of strategy and technology at IBM Software Group.

For more information about Battle of the Brains, visit the competition’s web site at http://acmicpc.org.