UCF’s Programming Team won the Southeast USA Regional Programming Contest this weekend, beating out 70 competitors to earn a spot in the upcoming North America competition of the International Collegiate Programming Contest.

A total of seven programming teams from UCF competed in this weekend’s event. Another UCF team took second place, and the remaining five UCF teams all finished in the top 15.

Considered the oldest and most prestigious programming tournament, the annual event draws the world’s top emerging computer programming talent for a battle of logic, strategy and endurance.

This year’s regional contest featured teams from universities in Florida, Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina.

UCF’s winning team included graduate student Sharon Barak ’21 and junior Daniel West, both studying computer science, and senior Seba Villalobos, who is majoring in mathematics and computer engineering. The experienced trio came in second at last year’s regional competition, went on to finish in the top 20 in the North America competition and qualified for the World Finals, which was delayed due to the pandemic and will be held in November this year in Bangladesh.

“They also have participated in multiple contest formats through these Covid-altered times and have shown such great resiliency,” says Glenn Martin ’92 ’95MS ’12PhD, who serves as the team’s coach.  “I am super proud of their calmness and ability to adapt both during and between contests.”

During this weekend’s contest, the UCF teams solved 11 complex problems in just under five hours. The competition requires teams to work together to solve the most problems in the fewest attempts in the least cumulative time. For example, team members could be tasked with developing a schedule for landing airplanes or effectively routing fire trucks through intersections. Winning requires teamwork and problem-solving coupled with an understanding of advanced algorithms and the ability to work under pressure.

UCF’s winning team won’t have to go far for the 2022 North America competition; it will this year be held for the first time on UCF’s main campus. The event is scheduled to take place May 26-31, when approximately 50 top teams from across the United States and Canada will square off for a chance to advance to the 2022 World Finals.

A UCF team has qualified for the World Finals every year during the past decade.