Schools compete in contest

Sasha James

For the 12th year in a row, Northern Michigan University will be hosting its annual Invitational Programming Contest.

The NMU branch of the contest was started in 2000 by associate professors of math and computer sciences Randy Appleton and Andy Poe. NMU has competed in the contest since the 1980s. The original contest was only held in the fall semester.

“Well, after the event, the students were so pumped that they said they’d love to do a contest in the winter semester, too, not just in the fall,” Poe said.

Appleton and Poe decided they would start NMU’s own contest in the spring of 2000. It is modeled heavily on the Association of Computer Machinery (ACM) event, but is purely a local competition.

“In the competition, universities may send as many teams as they want, and each team has three members. The teams are then given a packet containing six problems. They must try to complete working programs to solve as many of these problems as they can over a five-hour period,” Poe said. “The team that solves the most problems wins.”

Every year in addition to NMU, Algoma University, Lake Superior State University and Michigan Technological University participate. The other schools that partake in the event often are University of Michigan-Flint, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, University of Minnesota-Duluth and The College of Saint Scholastica.

“Saint Scholastica, in particular, has taken a strong recent interest in the vent, and is sending a lot of competitors this year,” Poe said.

This event is hosted by the NMU chapter of the ACM and will be held on Saturday, March 26 in Jamrich Hall from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is primarily a collegiate competition. “Undergrad, grad, it doesn’t matter. You don’t even have to be a computer science major,” Poe said. Non-students and occasionally alumni teams participate as well.  The competition is free for all contestants.