Programming Team Advances to World Finals
David Mayhew (CpE, '97), a master's student in computer engineering,
is leading the Virginia Tech programming team to the international
Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) competition in
the Netherlands this April.
The team won first place in the regional competition in November,
beating out the other 150 teams that competed. A second Tech
team placed third and two other teams placed 13th and 53rd.
The intercollegiate competition is the largest programming competition
in the world. Last year Tech placed second in the U.S. at the
world finals - behind MIT, and 11th overall.
"The Team to Beat"
Tech has a reputation within the region as being the school
to beat, according to Sallie
Henry (CS), the team's coach and the Mid-Atlantic Region
director. "We have won the region for the last 10 years,"
she said. "When you get first place from the ACM, you attract
the top undergraduate and graduate students to your program."
The competition is great experience for the students, and the
cultural exchange is priceless, she said. "Our students
at the world competition get to meet and work with top programmers
from all over the world. They get to see how good they really
are. And sometimes it's good to see that they are not as good
as somebody else.
"Employers are very hot on this competition. I'm called
and emailed all time from companies wanting the names of students
on our first team."
Every year in September, Henry has a Virginia Tech competition,
from which she forms three or four teams. "Anybody can try
out," she said. Two other CpE students, Zack Swain ('00),
Rob Clancy ('98) were placed on teams that competed at the regional
Henry mixes computer science students with computer engineers,
electrical engineers, and mathematics and physics majors. In
addition to Mayhew, the team going to the world finals includes
Tim Terriberry (CS/Math, '01), Albert Lee (CS/Math/Physics, '00),
and Chad Windgrave (CS, '99) who serves as assistant coach/alternate.
"It's good to have a mix of majors on the teams," Mayhew
said. "We engineers tend to have a better idea of how to
solve the more engineering-type problems. The computer science
students usually know more about graph theory and complex algorithm
After the teams are formed, they practice for five hours every
Saturday morning during the fall and spring semesters.
Even before he goes to the world finals, Mayhew believes he has
gained much from the competition. "I've become a better
and faster programmer," he said. "It's given me an
edge. I have more confidence and experience. After seeing so
many problems in training, I find it easier to see software problems
and their solutions."
This experience has helped him in his engineering work. "I've
recently become involved in the autonomous vehicle project. There
are many coding problems involved that I'm able to solve. "Most
of all, it's the fun, and the pride," he said.
For more information on the Virginia Tech Programming Team,
please visit http://www.acm.vt.edu/index.html.