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Programmers finish strong in annual competition

September 11th, 2017

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College sent five students in two teams to an annual programming competition, in which one team finished in the top third.

ACM (Association of Computing Machinery, one of the flagship professional organizations in computer science) hosts the Intercollegiate Computer Programming Contest and IBM sponsors it. There were 16 satellite sites in the North Central North American region of ACM, with Bethel students going to the Perceptive Software site in Lenexa.

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

At the Nov. 8 competition, Bethel’s Team “Grey” solved two problems in 161 minutes, good for 88th place out of 273 teams competing.

Team Grey members were Brendan Bergen, senior from Moundridge, Dylan Jantz, senior from Newton, and Tim Regier, junior from Newton.

Yun Suk Kee, junior from Gwangju, South Korea, and Zach Preheim, sophomore from Peabody, made up Team “Maroon.”

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.

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 at

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

“I saw good teamwork at the contest, and both Bethel teams were working on the correct problems,” said Bethel’s computer science professor, Karl Friesen. “While I had hoped for more success, I’m convinced that everyone came away from the contest a better programmer.”

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2014-15 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 2014-15. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

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.