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Programmers compete in regional contest

September 11th, 2017

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College programmers again had a good showing in competition with other college and university students from an eight-state (plus two Canadian provinces) region.

Bethel sent two complete teams – six students total – to the ACM (which stands for Association of Computing Machinery, one of the flagship professional organizations in computer science) Intercollegiate Computer Programming Contest, sponsored by IBM, for the North Central North America region.

The satellite site for this year was in Olathe, hosted by Garmin.

The region includes Iowa, Kansas, Manitoba, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, western Ontario, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

At the Oct. 31 competition, Bethel’s team “Threshers” solved their first problem in under 30 minutes, for a while occupying 6th place overall.

The Threshers ended up finishing in the top quarter, 51st out of 223 teams.

Threshers team members were Yun-Suk Kee, senior from Gwangju, South Korea, Zach Preheim, junior from Peabody, and Tim Regier, senior from Newton.

The Bethel team “GrayMaroons” comprised three students competing in the ACM programming contest for the first time: Mareike Bergen, junior from Moundridge, Matthew Rodenberg, junior from Halstead, and Jordan Schroeder, sophomore from Newton.

The GrayMaroons took 86th place.

In the programming contest, teams of up to three students have five hours and one computer to solve as many problems as they can from the problem set.Each solved problem is worth one point, with ties broken in favor of the team that required the least time to program their solution.

To be successful, teams must be able to read and analyze problems quickly, communicate effectively with their teammates, have a broad knowledge of classic problems, algorithms and data structures, and possess the ability to apply those skills to produce working code while under severe time pressure.

Karl Friesen, programming coach and Bethel’s computer science professor, said he was generally pleased with the contest results.

“I was glad that both of our teams experienced some success in this contest,” he said. “This year’s problem set was one of the more difficult ones, and both teams did a good job in selecting problems to work on.”

Bethel programming team members met weekly in two-hour practice sessions and participated in one full-length practice contest in late September.

The unofficial contest results may be viewed online.

Bethel was the only one of its KCAC peer schools, and one of only two Kansas private colleges, to participate in the programming competition. Kansas State University also fielded two teams.

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2015-16 analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States, and is the highest-ranked Kansas college in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2015-16. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

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About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.