WWU Computer Science Steals 1st, 2nd and 3rd in Washington in Division 2 at the ICPC PNW Regionals

On Saturday, Feb. 24, six teams from WWU’s Competitive Programming Club made their university proud at the International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) Pacific Northwest regionals. Of the six three-student teams from Western, four teams swept first, second, third and seventh place in Division 2 in Washington, and got third, fourth and fifth place in Division 2 in the entire Pacific Northwest region.

The Competitive Programming Club in the Department of Computer Science, led by Indie Cowan, fosters a community at Western that provides students with opportunities to build skills in problem solving, job interviewing, and resume building in a fun and welcoming environment. The club also prepares student competitors to represent Western in programming competitions like the ICPC.

The ICPC is a globally recognized annual competition that puts participants’ skills in problem solving and programming to the test. The teams from Western demonstrated their innovation, teamwork, and grit in competition alongside some of the brightest minds in the Pacific Northwest.

The competing teams qualified to represent Western by outperforming their peers at the local Competitive Programming Competition that the club held earlier this quarter. After qualifying, the students had two weeks to prepare for the prestigious competition that lay ahead.

When the weekend arrived, the 18 students and their faculty sponsor Dr. See-Mong Tan traveled to Tacoma on Friday night, where they were treated to a meal at a local restaurant and an overnight hotel stay. The following day kicked off with the teams gathering at University of Washington Tacoma for a quick orientation, followed by the competition: five intense hours of problem solving, code writing, and algorithm crafting in which teams put forth their best effort to solve as many of the 13 problems as possible before the clock ran out. Of the six teams, five decided to compete in Division 2, meant for schools just starting to compete in the ICPC, and one brave team decided to compete in Division 1, meant for seasoned problem solvers that had trained for years for this moment.

Tensions were high as the competitors gathered after the contest, where they joined over 100 teams linked remotely from across the Pacific Northwest to watch a play-by-play of the last moments of the competition. The winners were unveiled one by one, revealing a resounding victory for Western.

Out of over 70 teams in the Division 2 regionals, WWU's teams stood out. ‘Lab Rats’, a Western team including Theo Hytopoulos, Avery Le, and Isabel Rodriguez, got seventh place in Washington. ‘Array of Sunshine’, a WWU team consisting of first-time competitors Sarah Coffland, Hidemi Mitani Shen, and Diego Llanes, clinched the bronze model locally, and fifth place in the Pacific Northwest regionals. ‘Gitpush, Gatekeep, Girlboss’, a team consisting of Indie Cowan, Autumn Davis, and Sky Duryee, were revealed to be the silver medalists locally, and fourth place in the regionals. And finally, ‘Coding Cowboys’, a team consisting of Sam Johnson, Meghan Lindhorst, and Kaitlynn Carlson, took home the gold medal locally for Western, and third place in the entire Pacific Northwest.

The Western team that competed in Division 1, the Bit Brawlers, consisting of Owen Wright, Joey Capps, and Marvin Chan, managed to take home 41st place in the Pacific Northwest region out of 64 teams. The teams celebrated with dinner in Seattle before returning to Bellingham after a taxing but rewarding day.

The Competitive Programming club is eager to compete in future contests and is always looking for new members who are excited to learn and grow. The club also holds quarterly programming competitions at Western open to all students. If you are a student interested in sharpening your problem solving skills, the club would love to have you, regardless of your experience level.

The club is overjoyed about Western’s growing involvement and growth at the ICPC. It aims to increase Western’s presence in Division 1 over the years, providing students with an outlet to sharpen their skills and prove their excellence.

Congratulations to the winning teams, and thanks to Indie Cowan and the other club officers for their leadership and guidance that brought Western to victory!