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UWFox Students Score High in Computer Competition

Participants from Left to Right: Brad Hanlon, Dylan Hein, and Beverly Porter [This page is preserved for historical and reference purposes only.  The information contained on it may no longer be current.]

Menasha, WI – Three students from the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley recently competed in the prestigious annual Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) and placed higher than any UW Colleges team has during the 38-year history of the event. Dylan Hein, Beverly Porter and Brad Hanlon led the UWFox team to a third-place finish out of 17 teams participating in the event staged at UW-Oshkosh. The UWFox team also scored a 56th place finish out of the 213 teams representing 67 universities and colleges located in two countries that competed at 16 regional sites as part of the overall competition within the entire North Central America district of the ACM.

Dr. Bill Bultman, associate professor of computer science at UWFox and the team’s “coach,” said, “In a competition where most teams are composed of juniors, seniors and graduate students our freshman and sophomores performed phenomenally. This is better than any [UWFox] team in the six years we’ve been participating.” With an enrollment of over 1,700 students, UWFox is the second largest of the 13 campuses that comprise the UW Colleges.

Porter is a non-traditional adult student and mother from Oshkosh. She said, “I’m so proud of our team. I am ecstatic that we finished three problems with no errors and within the best time of all the other two-year college teams from past years…not just this year. To compare our ranking for this year against other teams from the four-year campuses – that may have had a graduate student on their team – gives me the confidence that I am taking the right career path and leaving a legacy for UWFox that gives me the foundation I need for future success.”

“It’s exciting,” said Hanlon, a freshman from New London. “Even a few days after the competition I was still really excited. I never thought that would be able to place as high, being that we’re a two-year school. Dr. Bultman helped us out a lot with his coaching. He prepared us well. If it wasn’t for him we wouldn’t have done as well.”

Hein, an all-conference basketball player for the Cyclones, is originally from Green Bay and currently living in Menasha as he attends UWFox. He said, “I was amazed! We went in hoping to solve one problem and came out with three solved problems in three attempts. We were thrilled, and had no idea how well we really did until that night when we found out it was the best finish ever for a UW Colleges team.”

According to Mark Hall, assistant professor of computer science at UW-Marathon County, the ACM ICPC competition goes back to 1970, when it was started at Texas A&M. “The idea quickly gained popularity within the United States and Canada as an innovative initiative to assist in the development of top students in the emerging field of computer science.”

Hall said, “The 56th place finish of the UWFox team was the highest any UW Colleges team has ever finished in this competition and they tied with the highest number of correct solutions. This finish was absolutely unbelievable, especially if you look at all of the four-year schools that finished behind them. Congratulations to Bill Bultman as he had this team ready to compete!”

According to statistics kept on the AMC ICPC competition, UWFox has always been the top team from the UW Colleges since the Menasha campus started sending its students to the competition six years ago.

The contest rules dictated that each team could have three student programmers with a maximum of one graduate student on the team. Each team had nine programming problems to solve in five hours with time penalties for incorrect solutions. All of the regional sites had the same problems and competed at the same time with updated standings being reflected on a web page. The problems dealt with mathematical concepts and data structures.

Summing up, Porter said, “We came together as a team and put our areas of expertise to use in solving the problems.” Hanlon said, “I feel great about this experience and I can’t wait to go back next year.”

According to Hein, “It was a team effort all the way. All three of us made major contributions to the final solutions. Nothing could peel the smile off of my face after the competition that day. We were all elated. I’ll never forget that day for the rest of my life, and can’t wait to go back next year.”

Reflecting on the team’s monumental accomplishment, Porter quoted Sir Winston Churchill: “ ‘Give us the tools we need and we’ll get the job done.’ ”

Posted 11/20/2007