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Drexel Sending Two Teams to Compete in IBMs Programming Competition Battle of the Brains

October 23, 2008

Six Drexel University College of Engineering students will take part in a challenge of mental endurance and creativity. Divided into two teams of three, the computer science majors will travel to Washington College (Chestertown, Maryland) October 25, 2008 to represent Drexel at the regional contest of the 33rd annual IBM-sponsored Association for Computing Machinery International Collegiate Programming Contest.

The programming abilities of Drexel’s teams will be challenged as they solve complex, real-world problems under a grueling five-hour deadline. The challenge is equivalent to completing an entire semester of computer programming in one afternoon.

The contest fosters creativity, teamwork and innovation in building new programs. It enables students to test their ability to perform under pressure by pitting teams against eight or more complex, real-world problems. Huddled around a signal computer, competitors race against the clock in a battle of logic, strategy and mental endurance.

Drexel’s teams are the Drexel Flaming Yawns and the Drexel Dragons. Seniors Craig Benetz, Georgi Simeonov and Matthew Wozniski comprise the Drexel Flaming Yawns while seniors Hung Dinh, Minh Nguyen and sophomore Daniel Zollers round out the Drexel Dragons. This is Nguyen’s second year in the competition.

Dr. Jeffrey Popyack, associate professor of computer science, serves as the team advisor and has coached or co-coached Drexel’s programming teams since 1983. Drexel has made it to the World Finals six-times between 1983 and 1991. Since then, a restructuring at the regional level brought tougher opponents to Drexel from Maryland, DC, Virgina and North Carolina, a change that brings teams from Virginia Tech and Duke into the mix.

“The level of collaboration in both Drexel teams gives them a big advantage over some past participants,” Popyack said. “Some of our seminar students are participating online and keeping journals of what they are doing, which is proving to be a good way to prepare.”

The Drexel Flaming Yawns put their teamwork to the test recently at the Consortium for Computing Sciences in Colleges, where they placed first in a similar contest October 11.

The team that solves the most problems in the fewest attempts in the least cumulative time wins. One hundred world finalist teams will compete for awards, prizes and bragging rights in Stockholm, hosted by KTH – Royal Institute of Technology Commitment, April 18-22, 2009.


News media contact: Craig Eisenberger, Drexel News Bureau 215-895-2705, 215-518-0577 (cell) or

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