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April 8: Grove City College Duo Takes Top Honors at Carnegie Mellon Spring Programming Contest


Byron Spice

Grove City College Duo Takes Top Honors at
Carnegie Mellon Spring Programming Contest

PITTSBURGH—The two-member team of Philip Deets and Susannah Johnson of Grove City College won Grand Champion honors at the 2009 Carnegie Mellon University Spring Programming Contest hosted by Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science with support from Morgan Stanley Technology.

The Deets/Johnson team, coached by David Adams, was among 28 two- and three-member teams from 14 colleges and universities that participated March 28 in the sixth annual competition, which complements the International Collegiate Programming Contest sponsored each fall by the Association of Computing Machinery. Gregory Kesden, organizer of the annual contest, said it was notable that not only did the Grove City pair finish on top, but another two-member team — Katie Kuksenok and Michael Brooks, coached by Benjamin Kuperman of Oberlin College — was second overall, outpointing all of the three-member teams.

“It is really impressive that these two-person teams beat the three-person teams,” said Kesden, associate teaching professor in Carnegie Mellon’s Computer Science Department. “And it is neat, I think, that they were female-male pairs.” Women remain underrepresented among computer science majors, he noted, but several leading teams, not just the top two, included female members this year.

Each team was presented with a set of nine problems. For each problem, the teams had to identify an appropriate problem-solving method, or algorithm, design a data set and produce a computer program to solve the problem. Scoring was based on how many problems each team solved and the amount of time taken to solve them.

While a Grove City duo won best overall scores and won the doubles division, a Grove City team of Jaren Heinly, Aaron Mininger and Shawn Recker, also coached by Adams, won the triples division. Among other three-member teams, the University of Pittsburgh placed second, followed by the University of Toledo at Lorain County Community College and Allegheny College.

Among the two-member teams, in addition to Grove City and Oberlin, Denison University placed third and the University of Pittsburgh placed fourth.

For information on the School of Computer Science, see