Programming competition in Sweden hosts three UI students

By Shawn Adderly

The University is playing a vital role in developing engineers who will be able to tackle real-world problems.

Three students from the University will be competing in the world finals of the Association for Computing Machinery’s International Collegiate Programming Contest, held from April 18 to 22 in Stockholm, Sweden and sponsored by IBM.

The contest brings together elite programmers to solve complex computer programming problems related to real-life business issues, said Mark Guan, IBM’s manager of international media relations.

“They might be asked to design a city skyline, or they may be asked to figure out a solution to an infrastructure problem,” Guan said.

The competition will last five hours, with all participants in one room, he said. Students will be asked to use open-source technology to solve problems posed to them.

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The three students competing are Pichayoot Ouppaphan, sophomore in Engineering and Yintao Yu and Mianwei Zhou, both first-year Ph.D. students.

The teams were formed by Jesse Beder, a graduate student, based on their performance on individual programming projects, said Marsha Woodbury, professor of computer science and the team’s adviser.

Ouppaphan competed with the University’s team last year. He said he started computer programming in high school at age 17 and attended programming camps in his native country, Thailand.

“I feel excited, and I feel nervous,” Ouppaphan said.

Yu and Zhou, who both received their undergraduate degrees from Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China, participated in regional competitions in their native land.

“This is a really exciting and interesting event. You can develop your skills and you can compete with the best of programmers in the whole country,” Yu said.

Yu said he looks forward to meeting some smart people who will be competing in the event.

Woodbury said they did not dedicate as much time as they would have liked to train because of the amount of coursework and research they have.

The third team member, Zhou, said that in China some teams would spend a whole summer vacation working toward these competitions.

Zhou said he was also excited to travel to Stockholm to compete.

For the University, this team will be unique.

“This is a different team. I have never had a team that was all international students,” Woodbury said.

The team almost did not make it to the finals because of a judging error that occurred at the regional competition.

“The judges incorrectly said our solution was wrong, and we had to appeal the judge’s decision,” Woodbury said.

Guan said that the award ceremony for the competition will be held in the same concert hall in Stockholm where the Nobel Prize is given out.

“From the more than 30,000 students we selected 100 teams,” Guan said. “For the University of Illinois it is an honor to be in the finals.”