SDSM&T goes to World Finals

This week I plan to introduce a commemoration to recognize a substantial accomplishment at SDSM&T that few know about.

Once again, the SDSM&T Computer Programming Team is heading to the World Finals of the ACM Intercollegiate Programming Contest.  This year’s contest will be on July 3 in St. Petersburg, Russia and will include 120 teams from around the world, 17 from the United States. The SDSM&T team is among that elite 17.

This is the fifth time since 1998 that the Mines team has reached the finals, an impressive feat for any school, especially so for a small school from South Dakota.  The other universities from the U.S. competing at the World Finals are mostly either large universities like Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Florida, and Virginia, or expensive schools like MIT, Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, and Columbia.

No other team from South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, or Colorado qualified for the 2013 World Finals.

The SDSM&T team consists of three students from this region of the country:  Colton Manville of Rapid City, Trevor Mahoney of Scottsbluff, Neb., and Dean Laganiere of Racine, Minn., and is coached by Dr. Toni Logar, Dr. Larry Pyeatt, and Prof. Roger Schrader.

Toni tells me that Trevor Mahoney’s parents came to visit a couple of years ago and asked how Trevor was doing.  Toni told them that Trevor was one of the top students in the department, a valuable member of the programming team even as a sophomore, and that Trevor was going to qualify for the World Finals as a senior.  Two years later, he did exactly that.

The students are looking forward to the trip to Russia.  Dean is applying for a passport, never having been outside of the U.S., Trevor has only stepped outside the U.S. to see Niagara Falls from the Canadian side, and Colton has only made one trip outside the U.S.  Of course, Colton’s one trip outside the U.S. was to India and Nepal on a trip with his Senior Design team working with Rockwell Collins and also led by Toni.

The Computer Programing Team qualified for the World Finals by placing highly in the North Central Regional Programming Contest.  During the contest, teams of three students are given a collection of ten or so problems to be solved using a computer program.  The team solving the most problems in the least time is the winner.

This is yet another reason to believe that investing in SD’s higher education system will pay enormous dividends.  We are lucky to have a resource like that and rather than asking how we can scrape together enough funding to prevent it from deteriorating, we should be asking how we can make it even stronger.

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