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Whitworth students stand out in Pacific Northwest Regional Computer Programming Contest

November 16, 2009
Three teams of Whitworth computer-science students outmaneuvered their peers and solved a series of complex programming problems during the 34th annual Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Pacific Northwest Regional Computer Programming Contest. Eighty teams from the Western United States and Canada took part in the Nov. 7"battle of the brains" competition at the University of Idaho, in Moscow, Idaho. Four other contest sites in the region also hosted schools, and teams submitted their problems electronically to a central judging location.

The top Whitworth team - seniors Timothy Bull, David Jackson and Josh Simmons - solved five out of 10 problems in 428 minutes to beat 62 other teams and rank 18th. To view complete contest results, please visit

The second Whitworth team - juniors Ian Thompson and Cole Wardell - solved five problems in 1155 minutes to beat 48 other teams and rank 32nd among their peers. The third Whitworth team – freshman Eric Fode, senior Nathan Sargent, and senior Jason Heide – turned in a strong performance by solving two problems.

The top two Whitworth teams beat out Whitworth's peer schools in the region, as well as many teams from larger schools. The other participating teams at Whitworth's contest site included Gonzaga University, Eastern Washington University, Washington State University and the University of Idaho. Some of the other schools that participated in the regional competition included the University of Washington, the University of Oregon, University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, Stanford University, and the University of California at Berkeley.

"The standings say a lot about the top-notch caliber of students that Whitworth attracts," says Kent Jones, professor of math and computer science at Whitworth. "Teams who rank well in the regional competition are looked on favorably by recruiters from corporations."

The ACM Pacific Northwest Programming Contest challenges teams of three university students to use their programming skills and rely on their mental endurance to solve complex, real-world problems within a five-hour deadline. The Whitworth contest is a regional competition of the IBM-sponsored ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest, which will gather 6,099 university teams from 82 countries on six continents during its preliminary rounds through December. The top two teams from each regional competition will earn coveted spots at the world finals, to be held in February, in Harbin, China.

The Pacific Region comprises Alaska, Hawaii, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, northern/central California and western Nevada. Because of the large geographic area of the region, the Pacific Northwest contest is held simultaneously at multiple sites: California, Washington/Oregon, Canada and Hawaii. For more information on previous contests, problem sets and last year’s final standings, please visit

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 2,700 students, offers 55 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Kent Jones, professor of math and computer science, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4248 or

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or