Simpson programmers top among Iowa liberal arts colleges


Courtesy of Simpson College

by Ty Duve, Staff Writer

Simpson College computer science students secured a strong finish at the International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) on Nov. 3 at Iowa State University.

The ICPC is a worldwide competition involving more than 50,000 students from 111 countries and 3,000 universities. The ICPC website explains that each region holds its own contest and the winners of each contest go to the world final.

The website describes the competition as “the oldest, largest and most prestigious programming contest in the world.”

The contest lasts five hours and consists of challenging problems containing mathematical reasoning, problem solving, programming skills, teamwork, communication and mental stamina.

It’s also all done with no internet access.

“It certainly felt rewarding to be able to solve any of the problems, let alone three of them,” junior Payton McBurney said.

This year, Simpson teams were the top three teams from all liberal arts colleges in Iowa finishing 42nd, 46th and 67th place out of 210 teams. 

The top team placing 42nd from Simpson consisted of senior Mark Becker, junior Payton McBurney and junior Malac Blaeser. The second team placing 46th was senior Drew Roen, sophomore Nathan Magalhaes and sophomore Max Folkers. The third placing 67th was sophomore Blake Dalmas, sophomore Bryson Cook and senior JJ Kosobucki.

“It was fairly challenging because the questions were really hard,” Magalhães said. “There were a lot of teams from big universities there as well.”

Students from the Computer Science Club attend many events similar to ICPC including programming contests and hackathons. The club advertises for these events and students create teams to register.

“One of the greatest benefits of being a part of the club are the extracurricular experiences that can look good on a resume and help you learn more outside the content taught in the classes on campus,” said Josh Dietrich, president of the Computer Science Club.

The club members meet on a regular basis and learn about various technologies and topics within the computing world. They also work on practice problems from previous competitions to prepare themselves for contests.

“I definitely plan on going back for next year’s competition,” McBurney said. “I hope we can learn from our experience this year and do even better next year.”