The University of Central Florida placed third the nation and 21st in the world in the “World Cup” of computer programming competitions.

UCF placed after New York University and the University of Texas at Brownsville in the World Finals of the Association of Computing Machinery’s International Collegiate Programming Contest (ACM-ICPC), also known as the “Battle of the Brains” in Ekaterinburg, Russia.

UCF was among 122 teams that competed in the contest after advancing from a pool of 8,000 regional teams from around the globe.

UCF computer science students Travis Meade, from West Palm Beach, Fla., Antony Stabile, from Rockledge, Fla., and Daniel Wasserman, from Ocoee, Fla., programmed their way through five-hours of complex problem solving to beat teams from MIT (#24), University of Southern California (#44) and Stanford (#57) among others.

The contest begins with each three-member team receiving up to 12 problems that involve math, logic, graphs, charts, geometry and other categories. Each team shares one computer to solve the most problems in the five-hour contest, writing a computer program for each solution. This year’s questions included real-world scenarios pertaining to efficient delivery of baggage onto and off airplanes on different routes, balancing cranes used at a construction site and finding the ideal location to place surveillance equipment with several constraints, and reconfiguring a sensor network.

UCF made it to the World Finals after taking first place in the Southeast regional contest against teams from Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and Mississippi. For 33 consecutive years, the UCF Programming Team – UCF’s most winning team – has placed in the top three in the Southeast, a record unmatched by any other regional programming team.

This is the 25th time UCF has competed in the World Finals since establishing the team in 1982 – one of the most successful records in the nation.

Meade holds a UCF bachelor’s degree in mathematics (2012) and is working on a doctoral degree in computer science. Stabile holds UCF bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering (2011 and 2012) and is a doctoral student in computer science. Wasserman, who competed in last year’s World Finals, is an undergraduate in his senior year.

The team devotes 35 to 40 Saturdays a year to practicing for the championship. The seven-hour practice sessions simulate the five-hour contest, with the extra time spent on analysis and feedback.

See all the World Finals results at ICPCNews. Learn more about the UCF Programming Team here.