Zach Felix dominates field in Messiah Prelim Contest

October 8th, 2013 by Jason Long

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.

Dickinson Programming Contest

February 23rd, 2013 by Jason Long

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

November 10th, 2012 by Jason Long

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

May 17th, 2012 by Jason Long

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

May 14th, 2012 by Jason Long

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

May 7th, 2012 by Jason Long

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

April 15th, 2012 by Jason Long

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.

Messiah wins the Dickinson College Contest

March 24th, 2012 by Jason Long

Messiah College’s programming team, consisting of students Michael Adams, Anthony Spargo, and Zachary Felix, has pulled off another impressive computer programming contest victory this weekend. The Dickinson College Programming Contest is a four-hour competition that hosts 20 teams from 9 different schools in a race to solve eight complex computer programming problems. Our team solved 7 of 8 problems, more than any other team, earning them first place, a commemorative plaque, and gift certificates. A second team from Messiah, consisting of students Avery deGruchy (’14), Matt Guzick (’14), and Nathan Chaney (’15), also did well, solving 3 problems and earning 9th place. Both teams from Messiah had the remarkable achievement of getting all their problems right on the first try.

Messiah invited to compete at the ACM World Finals

December 6th, 2011 by Jason Long

Thanks to our team’s great performance in November, the ACM has official invited our team to Warsaw Poland in May for the ACM world finals. This is a wonderful opportunity for our students and our school to show off our abilities and be recognized for the great academic program we have. In addition, the University of Chicago has invited us to compete in a special warm-up competition for qualifying North American schools in April. Great and exciting things are happening!

Messiah team is 3rd-place team of Midatlantic Region

November 5th, 2011 by Jason Long

On November 5, Messiah College sent two teams of programmers to Shippensburg University to compete in the Regional Contest. The contest is a five-hour event where teams are given a packet of eight algorithm problems and given a single computer to enter a computer program that can solve the problem. Teams are scored based on the number of problems solved and how quickly they are solved.

The Falcons Blue team, composed of Junior Computer Science students Anthony Spargo and Mike Adams, and First-Year-Student Zachary Felix, solved four problems, earning them FIRST place among the 23 teams competing at Shippensburg, and THIRD place among the 168 teams competing simultaneously throughout the multi-state Mid-Atlantic Region, surpassed only by Duke University and College of William and Mary.

Messiah competed in the Mid-Atlantic region with schools like Bucknell University, University of Virginia, Johns Hopkins University, Elizabethtown College, University of Maryland, Dickinson University and Temple University among others (See ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest Teams list []).

“It was an exciting contest to watch”, reports team coach Jason Long. “When Falcons Blue got their third problem correct half-way into the contest, I knew we had a chance of winning. I am proud of both our teams’ performances.”