A team of Illinois State University student computer programmers will be competing in the World Finals of the 35th annual Association for Computer Machinery (ACM) International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, this coming February. The Illinois State team, coached by School of Information Technology (ITK) faculty member Mary Goodwin, is one of 100 teams from across the globe to receive invitations to the World Finals.

The ITK student team, Onward and Upward, consists of Ryan Newman, Clint Riley, and Sarah Steffen. During the competition, also known as the Battle of the Brains, student teams are given five hours, one computer, and between seven and ten programming problems to solve. The problems range from fairly easy to stunningly difficult.

Illinois State’s Onward and Upward team earned the invitation to the World Finals after a fourth place finish out of 142 teams competing in a regional competition held in Springfield in early November. Newman, Riley and Steffen have worked together as a team under the mentorship of Mary Goodwin for the past year to prepare for the competition. This is the second time Goodwin has coached a team of ITK students to the World Finals of the ACMICPC, the first time being in 2008.

Worldwide 7,820 teams entered this year’s contest, including 1,113 teams from North America. One hundred teams advanced to the World Finals, about 20 of which are from North America. This year’s finalists include Princeton, MIT, Stanford, Duke, University of Chicago, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin, Carnegie Mellon, and University of Illinois.

Team Onward and Upward was one of five School of Information Technology teams to compete in the recent regional competition. The team of Seth Hare, Chris Murphy, and Chris Kramer placed 30th. The team of Chris Pawlak, Kevin Campbell, and Luke Shriver placed 31st. The team of Ryan Pouliot, Justin Deresinski, and John Shroeder placed 38th, and the team of Tao Wang, Shawn Rhoney, and Brandon Harnack placed 49th.