MACON – Mercer University’s Binary Bears captured second and third place overall Jan. 23 in a virtual computer programming contest hosted by the University of North Carolina at Asheville. The contest, originally scheduled for in-person last November, was moved to an online format because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The three-hour competition, consisting of teams from universities in seven different states, was sponsored by the Consortium for Computing Sciences in Colleges (CCSC) as a part of its annual conference.
The traditional rules for the competition were altered for an online format as students were allowed to log on to their own computer rather than share one as in the past. Schools were also allowed to have more than two teams compete, but only the top two could place in the standings. They also had to successfully navigate effective communication and time management between team members under the new rules.
Mercer had seven teams of three students participating and solved more problems than any other university, finishing ahead of institutions such as Furman University, Samford University and the University of North Carolina at Asheville. Complete standings and the 10 contest problems are available online.
Mercer’s team of William Baglivio, a senior computer science and mathematics double-major from Marietta; Isaiah Hoffman, a senior computer science and mathematics double-major from Culloden; and Harrison Verhine, a master’s degree student in engineering management from Acworth, solved eight problems in claiming the second spot.
Mercer got off to a fast start as the first school on the leaderboard by solving its first problem in only six minutes. After leading early with five problems solved in the first hour, the Binary Bears exchanged leads with Bob Jones University, which claimed the top spot in the third hour.
Mercer’s third-place team, including Connor Day, a senior computer science major from Norcross; Chris Holmes, a senior computer science major from Watkinsville; and Michal Pacholczyk, a senior computer science major from Augusta, solved seven problems.
Mercer will be back in action the first weekend of March for the virtual programming competition hosted by the Association of Computing Machinery. The Binary Bears took the top spot in Division II in the Southeast at this prestigious international programming competition last year.