Computer Science Students on Winning Streak

Students win at five regional and national events.

Press Release updated: Oct 30, 2017 10:00 EDT

​​​If you want to know how good a sports team is, you can check their stats.  Unfortunately, no similar mechanism typically exists for academic programs.  This year, though, Computer Science students at the North Dakota State University are generating some undeniable school pride.  They’ve competed in multiple national and regional events and won the field across the board.

The winning streak started with the International Aerial Robotics Competition, this past summer.  NDSU Computer Science then-freshman Abdullah Almosalami’s team took home the top award for technical achievement at this decades-old and prestigious contest.

During the fall semester, Computer Science teams have had an unprecedented winning streak at regional events.  Two NDSU teams won at the Mech Mania contest hosted by computer science powerhouse, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  The first place team consisted of Computer Science sophomores Wyly Andrews, David Schwartz and Eric Myers.  Computer Science Senior Aaron Buchholz, junior Chris Bernard and Electrical Engineering senior Haiming Lou made up the third place team.

These contests give students more than just bragging rights. Being able to show that you were the best in the region or the best in the nation can be a real ‘leg up’ when students are trying to get their first job, when graduating.

Jeremy Straub, Assistant Professor, NDSU Computer Science

At the DigiKey programming contest, NDSU teams took first and second place – only the second time this has happened in the competition’s history.  Senior Aaron Buchholz and junior Chris Bernard were the first place team.  Juniors Riley Conlin and Ajay Brown and sophomore Wren Erickson won second.  The teams brought home nearly $10,000 in prizes for themselves and the university from these wins.

This past weekend, at the local contest for the ACM-sponsored International Collegiate Programming Contest, NDSU again took the first place spot – along with 3rd.  Juniors Ajay Brown and Riley Conlin and senior Aaron Buchholz won the top spot.  Sophomores Wyly Andrews and Eric Myers and senior Jeremy Jaeger won third place.

“Our programming teams have had a fabulous competition season,” noted Computer Science Professor Anne Denton, who coached the Mech Mania, DigiKey and ICPC teams.  Denton also serves as the advisor for the student ACM chapter, which sponsors participation in these three events.

On the national stage, two NDSU students on the school’s National Cyber League team – participating in a contest that pits students in cybersecurity challenges – went into the pre-season games ranked 24th and 26th nationally, out of 3,176 competitors.

“These contests give students more than just bragging rights,” noted Computer Science Asst. Professor Jeremy Straub who is coaching the National Cyber League team.  “Being able to show that you were the best in the region or the best in the nation can be a real ‘leg up’ when students are trying to get their first job, when graduating.”

The job-seeking benefits are clear.  The DigiKey contest is sponsored by a large regional employer, DigiKey, as part of their recruiting efforts.  The National Cyber League provides scouting reports on players to prospective employers.  Contest participation demonstrates that students can apply the material learned in classes – and pushes students to excel in their coursework.

The NDSU Computer Science Department was founded in 1988 (though computer science courses were offered as part of Mathematical Sciences since 1973). It offers Ph.D. degrees in computer science and software engineering, three master’s degrees and two bachelor’s degree programs. It occupies 7,460 square feet in NDSU’s Quentin Burdick Building and has approximately 600 graduate and undergraduate student majors.

Source: NDSU Computer Science

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About the Author: Carrie Brunner

Carrie Brunner grew up in a small town in northern New Brunswick. She studied chemistry in college, graduated, and married her husband one month later. They were then blessed with two baby boys within the first four years of marriage. Having babies gave their family a desire to return to the old paths – to nourish their family with traditional, homegrown foods; rid their home of toxic chemicals and petroleum products; and give their boys a chance to know a simple, sustainable way of life. They are currently building a homestead from scratch on two little acres in central Texas. There’s a lot to be done to become somewhat self-sufficient, but they are debt-free and get to spend their days living this simple, good life together with their five young children. Carrie writes mostly on provincial stories.
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