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DSU programming team advances to North American Championship

April 15, 2024

Dakota State University’s International Competitive Programming Competition (ICPC) team will compete at the North American Championship in May.

Nora Sandison, Dax Patel, and Joshua Ganschow will travel with coach Austin O’Brien to Florida from May 23 to 28 to compete for the chance to move on to the International Championship.

O’Brien is incredibly of proud of the team’s advance to the North American Championship. “It’s only our second team to ever do so,” he said.

Programming competitions include a big list of what are essentially math problems, and you have to write a program that can solve that problem given any arbitrary input, explained Sandison, a Master of Science in Computer Science student.

“For our particular regional competition, they gave us 12 questions, and we had from noon to 5 p.m. to solve them,” said Josh Ganschow, a computer science major. “No team finished all of them.”

“I’d say the hardest part sometimes is just figuring out when to quit and switch to a different problem entirely,” Sandison said.

“That’s part of the whole strategy,” Ganschow said. “You don’t want to spend all your time on one problem when you could be doing one of the easier ones. That’s why they give you a range of difficulties, but you have to determine which ones are going to be harder and easier.”

The team is looking forward to competing in the championship against the best of the best. “This is extremely high level,” O’Brien said. “We’ll be competing against Stanford, Yale, and MIT, the elite computer science programs, so it’s incredibly fun to be able to point and say a small state school in South Dakota is competing at that level.”

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