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Another Fall, another ACM contest!

Saturday, November 2nd, 2013

On Saturday, November 2, 2013, six students took part in the 2013 ACM Mid-Atlantic Regional Programming Contest at Shippensburg University with 24 teams from 9 different schools. The Falcons Blue team, made up of Zachary Felix, Nathan Chaney and Dan Baker, took 1st place, solving 4 of the 8 problems. The Falcons White team, made up of Marcus Upton, Chris Beam and Taran King, took 12th place solving 1 problem.

Messiah was competing against schools well known to residents of central Pennsylvania. Shippensburg, Millersville, Gettysburg, Penn State Harrisburg, Kutztown, Elizabethtown, Dickinson, and Lebanon Valley College all fielded at least one team at the Shippensburg contest site.

Falcons Blue shows off their four balloons, representing four correct solutions.

The contest was part of a larger, multi-state contest hosted by Radford University, with 191 teams from 65 different schools competing. Among the large contest, the Falcons Blue team’s score earned them 13th place overall, falling short of the necessary top 3 needed to qualify for the World Finals. The Falcons White team’s score earned them 103rd overall.

Zach Felix dominates field in Messiah Prelim Contest

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

Seven students gave up their Saturday afternoon and evening to do competitive programming in the Messiah College Prelim Contest, October 5. Zach Felix, competing remotely from the Philly campus, was the big winner, but all participants were successful in solving at least two problems. At the end of the five-hour contest, the standings were:

Zach Felix Solved 9 of 11 91%
Dan Baker and Nathan Chaney Solved 3 in 320 minutes 55%
Chris Beam and Taran King Solved 3 in 507 minutes 55%
Matthew Bohn and Andrew Cameron Solved 2 39%

(The right-most column indicates the teams performance compared to the 597 teams that competed on the same problem-set at the same time at other schools.)

At the start of the contest the students were given a packet of 11 problems, and tasked with solving as many problems as possible. Each solution consisted of a computer program that would read an input file and generate a certain output. Solutions were submitted to an automated judging system (hosted by Baylor University) which performs test runs of the solution and returns a “correct” or “incorrect” result to the student team.

This contest was only for certificates of recognition and bags of candy, but it also serves as a practice run (and a qualifier) for the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest Regionals to be held on November 2, to which Messiah College will be sending six students.

Nathan Chaney and Dan Baker hold their winners certificate.

Andrew and Matthew hard at work on the second problem.

2012 Team

Monday, October 7th, 2013

In the Fall of 2011 Messiah College sent two teams to Shippensburg to compete in the Regional Contest. The Falcons Blue team solved four problems, earning FIRST place among the 23 teams competing at Shippensburg, and THIRD place among the 168 teams of the Midatlantic region.

Michael Adams

My name is Michael Adams. I am a junior majoring in Computer & Information Sciences with a Computer Science concentration and I’m minoring in Mathematics.

When I graduate, I want to work with either web or software development. I’ve already been preparing for a career in web development by creating a website for a Messiah College campus club and by editing websites during my internship this past summer at Hershey Medical Center. One of the websites I created can be found at this URL:

Zachary Felix

My name is Zachary Felix. I am a first year student majoring in mathematics and minoring in computer science and statistics. I am also planning on pursuing a minor or double major in philosophy.

When I graduate I plan to go to graduate school for mathematics or statistics, and then search for a job that combines both of those fields with computer programming, because I enjoy both mathematics and writing computer programs.

Anthony Spargo

My name is Anthony Spargo and I am a junior Computer Information Sciences major with concentrations in Computer Science and Software Development, as well as minors in Philosophy and Math.

Choosing a major was difficult for me because I have a very wide range of interests including languages, which is why I will be taking two Chinese courses next year.

When I graduate I can see myself working in any number of fields including Software Development and/or Web Design and in any number of applications like defense, industry, or finance. I love programming and solving puzzles, so I enjoy any opportunity to do so.

In the News

Falcons Blue takes first place at Dickinson …
An article about the Falcons Blue programming team taking first place at the Dickinson programming competition in the school’s student-run newspaper. more-> (link broken)

Programming team earns spot at world competition
This article brings to life the regional competition at which the team took third. more->

Messiah College students to compete internationally …, an online news website associated with The Patriot News, announces the team’s right to compete internationally in Poland. more->


Monday, October 7th, 2013

Each year the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), an organization of computing professionals, holds an international programming contest for college and university students. This two-phased contest begins with a regional competition and is completed by a world competition. Messiah College has participated for several years.

In the Fall of 2014, three students from Messiah College– Seniors Nathan Chaney, Zachary Felix, and Marcus Upton– won the regional competition, beating teams from large schools like University of Maryland, Virginia Tech, and University of Virginia. They will advance to the world finals held next May in Morocco. See more about the 2014-2015 team.

This is not the first time Messiah College has earned a spot at the worlds. In the 2011-2012 competition, three students from Messiah College– Junior Computer Science students Anthony Spargo and Mike Adams, and First-Year-Student Zachary Felix– earned a spot at the worlds, and competed with students from schools such as Carnegie Mellon University, Duke University, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, and Georgia Institute of Technology at the World competition in Warsaw, Poland. See more about the 2011-2012 team.

And in 2001-2002, a Messiah College team consisting of a Jonathan Corbin (’03), Jason Long (’03), and Jeff Woldan (’03) and coached by Dr. Gene Chase competed at the ACM World Finals, held in Honolulu, Hawaii. This contest was held in the middle of the Spring semester so the team had to miss a week of classes. The team found it well worth-while just to have the opportunity to compete with the best collegiate programmers in the world.

Dickinson Programming Contest

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

Anthony Spargo, Zach Sizemore, and Andy Yong work on the practice problem

Messiah College sent three teams with a total of eight students to compete against 14 other teams from seven schools at the Dickinson College Annual Programming Contest. Team F.R.O.G. (Zach Felix and Taran King) earned first place overall, solving 7 of the 8 problems. The other two teams from Messiah– Abort-Retry-Fail (Chris Beam, Joss Steward, and Marcus Upton) and The Expendables (Zach Sizemore, Anthony Spargo, and Andy Yong) earned 4th and 5th places with 3 solutions each.  The students left Messiah at 10:45 a.m. Saturday heading to Dickinson for the four hour competition, and returned around 6:00 p.m.

Two Teams Sent to ACM Competition

Saturday, November 10th, 2012

Anthony, Mike, and Zach work on the sample problem prior to the start of the competition.

This past Saturday, November 10, 2012, six student took part in the 2012 ACM Mid-Atlantic Regional Programming Contest with 171 teams from 65 different schools. The Falcons Blue team made up of Zachary Felix, Mike Adams, and Anthony Spargo took 11th place solving 4 of the 8 problems (the first place team solved 5, so the Falcons Blue team was not far behind). The Falcons White team made up of Nathan Chaney, Joss Steward, and Marcus Upton took 149th place solving 1 problem.

Nathan, Marcus, and Joss work on the sample problem prior to the start of the competition.

To put this in perspective, 17 teams did not solve any of the 8 problems, 114 teams solved only 1, 19 teams solved 2, 12 teams solved 3, 7 teams solved 4, and 5 teams solved 5. Ranking is determined first by the number of problems solved and then within those groupings, rank is determined by fastest overall time (with penalty minutes added for incorrect submissions).

The teams that beat Falcons Blue were from University of Maryland – College Park (1st, 7th, and 9th places) which brough 3 teams, University of Virginia (2nd, 5th, and 10th places) which brought 8 teams, North Carolina State University (3rd) which brought 3 teams, Duke (4th, and 8th) which brought 6 teams, and Johns Hopkins (6th) which brought 2 teams. The rest of the schools in the Mid-Atlantic region can be found at

Messiah College places 85th in the World Finals

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

The ICPC World Finals round for 2012 is over. Out of 112 distinguished teams from all over the world, Messiah College’s team of Anthony Spargo, Mike Adams, and Zach Felix solved two problems, earning them 85th place. Congratulations Anthony, Mike, and Zach!

For video of the team and interviews with Michael and Anthony, see

In Poland and Rested

Monday, May 14th, 2012

We departed from Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI) on Saturday evening at 9:20 and arrived at London Heathrow International Airport on Sunday morning at 9:35. After checking into the Sheraton hotel we purchased all day tickets for the London Underground rail system and headed out to see London. We were exhausted by the time we arrived back at the hotel that evening. Our airplane departed this morning at 7:35 and arrived in Warsaw, Poland at 11:00. We are now at the hotel deciding what to do for the rest of the day. We did meet a gentleman from IBM that is going to be a part of the scheduled activities as well as another coach from the University of Waterloo.

Ramping up for the Trip

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Finals are almost finished. Students are making plans to head for home, yet the programming team is gearing up to head to Poland. We leave Saturday, May 12 at 9:20 p.m. from BWI.

The coaches would like to thank all of you who have given to this trip! If you are interested in following the team, we have added both a schedule page (see link above) providing the team’s schedule throughout our trip, and a twitter feed (on the right) to provide up-to-date news. You can also follow us directly on Twitter if you would like (@MessiahAcmTeam).

Messiah competes in Chicago Invitational Contest

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

This weekend the University of Chicago held a special warm-up competition, exclusively for the 22 teams from the U.S. and Canada going to the ACM world finals. The Messiah College programming team of Michael Adams, Zachary Felix, and Anthony Spargo, along with coach Dr. Scott Weaver, traveled to Chicago this weekend to participate in this contest. Our team solved one problem, placing 20th. It was a great opportunity to practice competing with much more difficult problems and against very high-caliber teams from other schools.