The world’s elite student computer programmers will travel to Harbin, China in February to compete in the oldest, most prestigious computer programming contest in the world. UCF is not new to the competition, having finished 2nd, 4th and 5th in previous World Finals.

Known as the “Battle of the Brains,” the 34th World Finals of the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) brings together the top 103 three-person teams from a starting field of more than 7000 teams from universities around the globe.

Qualifiers from regional contests advance to the world competition level and CECS’s programming team has consistently finished in the top three Southeast Regional contest, placing 1st fourteen times, 2nd place eight times, and 3rd place six times in its 28 years of competing in the event. “This is a record unmatched by any Southeast Regional university,” said CECS faculty advisor for the team Dr. Ali Orooji, “We are up against 85 regional teams from Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi and Alabama,” he added.

CECS’s programming team includes David Callies, Jon Calhoun, Ryan Patterson. “They spend 30 Saturdays out of the year training and doing mock contests for up to seven hours at a time,” said Dr. Orooji, who mentors the students.

During the competition, teams must build systems to solve up to a dozen problems modeled after real-world business challenges such as cracking complex password codes or re-architecting space plans. The three-person teams have only five hours to solve as many problems as they can—with only one computer. Students will apply more than a semester’s worth of curriculum during the competition. The team that solves the most problems correctly in the least amount of time will emerge as champions, earning scholarships and prizes from IBM.

Teams from 88 countries will be taking part, and UCF is one of 21 institutions from the U.S.