KAMSC Programming Team Comes in Second at Nationals

CS team members pose at the Michigan State University competition. Back row: Steven Vorbrich, first from left; Ben Dunham, third from left. Second to last row: Nick Gaunt, first from left.
CS team members pose at the Michigan State University competition. Back row: Steven Vorbrich, first from left; Ben Dunham, third from left. Second to last row: Nick Gaunt, first from left.

It was a chilly Friday morning late in March when the Programming Team set off for Raleigh.

“We left at five a.m. and then rode in a car filled with programmers for twelve hours, which was… weird,” said Ben Dunham, Loy Norrix junior and KAMSC student.

What is in North Carolina that could possibly merit a twelve-hour car trip? The ACSL International Invitational.

The American Computer Science League (ACSL) holds an annual programming competition in which KAMSC takes part. There is a “regular season” or preliminary round which consists of four competitions and serves as a qualifying round for the All-Star, or “finals”. All-Star teams are the top scorers in their regions. The KAMSC CS team — which is voluntary and consists of seniors, juniors, and a few sophomores — competes in the Intermediate-5 and Senior-5 divisions. KAMSC sophomores also compete in the ACSL Classroom Division as part of the sophomore curriculum.

The KAMSC CS team has had a successful season of programming this year. The Senior-5 and Intermediate-5 teams both came in second in the region in the preliminary competition, and the classroom division (literally every KAMSC sophomore) came in second overall.

The KAMSC teams qualified for the All-Star competition in both Intermediate-5 and Senior-5, so the team packed up and went to Raleigh, NC, the site of this year’s All-Star competition. The All-Star competition had 80 programming teams from four continents. The KAMSC Senior-5 team finished second overall, losing out to Montgomery Blair High School of Maryland. The Intermediate-5 team also finished second overall, with the Romanian Grigore Moisil National College taking first.

Team Advisor Shannon Houtrouw said that the team’s hard work paid off. “I never had to twist their arms to practice,” he said. “We practiced weekly for the past 3 months when we weren’t already competing somewhere else. We took a lot of extra time focusing on the more difficult problems.”

According to Houtrouw, this is the best ever finish for a KAMSC Senior-5 programming team.

“There was no question these guys really wanted this,” he said.

Prominent Loy Norrix members of the CS team include junior Ben Dunham and 2013 graduate Steven Vorbrich.

Vorbrich has been a member of the team for three years and was with the Senior team at the Raleigh competition, as well as last year when the Senior team placed 13th overall. His individual score this year was 38 out of a possible 40, meaning that he only missed two points in the preliminary competition. He won the 2011 and 2012 USA Computing Olympiad Bronze Awards, and the 2013 USA Computing Olympiad Gold Award. He was unavailable for comment.

Ben Dunham competed with the alternate team in Raleigh (had one of the Intermediate-3 teams been unable to compete, Dunham’s team would have filled in their place). He was also part of the regular season Intermediate-5 team which finished with a perfect score this year.

Other Loy Norrix-KAMSC CS team members include juniors Nick Gaunt and Thomas Rupp.

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