A group of student computer programmers from UNT qualified to compete in an international computer programming contest in Canada. The Knapsackers@UNT will compete in the world finals of the Association for Computing Machinery programming contest scheduled for April in Banff Springs, Alberta.
It's the first team from UNT to qualify for the world finals of this contest, and it did so by placing first in the Nov. 3 regional competition at Texas A&M University.
After five hours of non-stop programming, the Knapsackers@UNT solved eight of nine problems to finish first. The team was the only one to solve eight problems, including guiding a laser beam through a maze of objects with reflectors and splitters.
Another UNT team, The Traveling Salesmen, placed 11th out of 76 teams throughout the south central United States. Both UNT teams placed ahead of teams sponsored by the University of Oklahoma, Louisiana State University, Southern Methodist University and UT-Arlington.
Ryan Garlick, visiting assistant professor of computer science and engineering at UNT and coach of the programming teams, says, "Not only did our first team qualify for the finals and for future events, our second team did very well also and was composed of all first-time competitors."
John Rizzo, captain of the Knapsackers@UNT and a senior computer science and mathematics major from Kingwood, is looking forward to competing in Canada. He says, "For the world finals, we'll need to concentrate on practicing lots of very difficult problems, both individually and as a team. The world finals problems will be a lot more algorithmically and mathematically rigorous than the regional problems, so we need to work on extending our skill set to perform well."
Rizzo also was a member of the Texas Codeboys programming team that finished 14th last year and 19th this year in the Challenge 24 computer programming contest in Budapest, Hungary, and finished fourth last winter in an international online programming contest sponsored by the Indian Institute of Technology.
Knapsackers@UNT also includes seniors Hector Cuellar, Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, and Robert Mitchell Burke, Dripping Springs. Both are computer science and mathematics majors. The members of The Traveling Salesmen, all computer science and engineering majors, are Joey Parrish, senior, Deer Park; Angel Fox, junior, Haltom City; and Matt Bishop, junior, Copper Canyon.
Oscar Garcia, Founding Dean of the College of Engineering, says, "The sustained success of our student programming teams in competitions throughout the world bestows honor on the students and on their teachers, attesting to the quality of the education in their discipline at UNT."
UNT News Service Press Release
Rafael McDonnell can be reached at RMcDonnell@unt.edu.