Mercer ties for most problems solved, has only team to solve every problem on first attempt

GREENVILLE, S.C. – Mercer University’s Binary Bears computer programming team brought home the second-place trophy from a regional programming competition held in Greenville, South Carolina, this past weekend as a part of the annual conference of the Consortium of Computing Sciences in Colleges (CCSC). It was the first in-person coding competition for Mercer in more than two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mercer competed alongside Bob Jones University, Francis Marion University, Furman University, Gardner-Webb University, Lander University and Wofford College.

The seven institutions were represented by 13 teams, each consisting of four students who had to share one computer to solve nine different problems using their programming language of choice.

In a thrilling three-hour competition, the lead changed hands numerous times. Mercer was the only institution that solved all nine problems in the set on its first attempt using the Python programming language. The Binary Bears tied for most questions solved with Bob Jones University. 

To break the first-place tie, judges used penalty points based on time solved and number of attempts. Bob Jones took first by the slim margin of eight points (one minute equals one penalty point, and an incorrect submission equals 20 penalty points). Complete standings are available here.

Mercer’s top team consisted of Gabe Bryant, senior computer science major from Marietta; Isaiah Hoffman, senior computer science and math double-major from Culloden; Ron Karamuca, senior computer science major from Acworth; and Jacob Strader, junior computer science major from McDonough. “They managed time efficiently and worked together well in solving the two most challenging problems in the final hour,” said Dr. Andy Digh, associate professor of computer science and faculty adviser to the Binary Bears.

Mercer’s second team, which solved seven of nine problems correctly, included Will Baglivio, senior math major from Marietta; Samantha Scholz, senior computer engineering major from Bonaire; Adam Steinberg, senior computer engineering major from Dahlonega; and Emily Wilbourn, senior computer science major from Jefferson. Dr. Digh praised this team for getting off to a “fantastic start” by solving its first problem in only eight minutes.

The Binary Bears will be back in action in five weeks on March 5 when they host the Southeastern regionals of the Association for Computing Machinery’s International Collegiate Programming Contest in Willet Science Center.