July 26, 2014  

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Southern Miss Gulf Coast Team Wins First Place in Programming Contest

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LONG BEACH, Miss. –  A team of four University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast seniors received the first place overall award in the Southeastern Small College Programming Contest at the 25th Annual Consortium for Computing Sciences in Colleges (CCSC): Southeastern Conference.

The conference, hosted by Furman University in Greenville, S.C., featured a total of 24 teams for the programming contest. The winning team of computer science majors included Caleb Bartimus of Gulfport, Samuel Foster of Biloxi, Joshua Stanford of D’Iberville and Prentiss Windham of Saucier. Tom Rishel, instructor of computer science at Southern Miss Gulf Coast, also attended the conference and helped the team prepare for the contest.

“Programming contests like these are helpful for our students because it gives them an opportunity to test their skills outside of a classroom environment,” said Rishel. “The contest rules are specifically crafted to create a high-pressure situation which requires teamwork, logical thinking, skilled decision-making, and effective prioritization. With our students' first-place performance, this demonstrates their well-rounded skill set.”

To prepare for contests like this, a group of students, ranging from sophomores to seniors, attend weekly meetings to practice problem solving and hone their programming skills. Of the eight questions presented at the CCSC programming contest, the winning team solved seven questions in four hours.

“As a team, we spent time working on different problem sets previously used in competitions and problems we found online,” said Windham. “We also worked on problems individually and then met to discuss our different solutions.”

Rishel explained that participating in programming competitions allows the university to “compare the performance of our students against students from other regional schools. A strong performance demonstrates the strength of our program and raises the profile of Southern Miss as a first-class educational institution.”

“Competitions give me an idea of where I stand among graduating students from other institutions when I enter the competitive workforce,” added Bartimus. “Participating in competitions also gives me experience with working in a team in a high-pressure situation.”

For more information about Southern Miss Gulf Coast, visit www.usm.edu/gulfcoast.