ROANOKE, Va. – Mercer University’s computer programming team, the Binary Bears, brought home the second-place trophy from this year’s Consortium for Computing Sciences in Colleges (CCSC) programming competition held last weekend on the campus of Roanoke College in Virginia.
The Binary Bears solved eight of the nine problems in the contest set, but were passed by eventual winner Bob Jones University who solved one additional problem in the final five minutes of the three-hour competition, which is held annually among schools without a graduate program in computer science.
Mercer’s top team was composed of Will Darragh of Greenwood, South Carolina, Connor Day of Norcross, Harrison Verhine of Acworth, and Avery Zebell of Macon.
A second team of Binary Bears solved four problems in the set and placed eighth out of the 21 teams competing. This group included Tad McCorkle of Warner Robins, Michal Pacholzyk of Augusta and Alex Powell of Fayetteville.
Team members represent a variety of majors, including computer science, information science and technology, electrical engineering, and industrial engineering.
The contest begins with each team receiving problems that draw on competitors’ skills in math, logic, graphs, geometry and more. Each team shares one computer to solve the most problems in the time allotted, writing a computer program for each solution. For example, a problem might ask competitors to route an emergency vehicle across a city in the shortest amount of time using a complex set of conditions such as one-way streets and road closures.
A penalty point system based on elapsed time and wrong submissions is used to resolve ties between teams that solve the same number of problems.
Mercer has an experiential learning course offered each fall (CSC 212: Programming Team Strategies) that allows students to prepare for such competitions. They get exposed to the algorithms, programming languages, teamwork and time management needed to be successful on a competitive academic programming team.
The Binary Bears will host a “Techie Talk” Nov. 16 at 10 a.m. in Computer Science Building, Room 100 to recap the fall season.
The team will resume practice in January in preparation for a spring competition hosted by Mercer on Feb. 16.