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Students from universities in Oklahoma and Texas will come to East Central University OCT 29-30 [FRIDAY-SATURDAY] to sharpen their programming skills while competing in the 35th annual Association for Computing Machinery's International Collegiate Programming Contest.

ECU hosts the Oklahoma site for the South Central USA Regional Programming contest that includes Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana. Other South Central sites are at Louisiana State, Baylor and LeTourneau Universities.

All four sites will compete simultaneously. Teams must use their programming skills, creativity and business sense to solve complex, real-world problems under a grueling five-hour deadline The top team from each region earns an invitation to compete for the international title at the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest World Finals next spring in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

Each team has three contestants and a coach. Some teams also will bring alternates. The competition at ECU will include 21 teams from ECU, Midwestern State University, Northeastern State University, Oklahoma State University, Oral Roberts University, Southern Methodist University, the University of Oklahoma and the University of Tulsa.

Called the world's most prestigious computer programming competition, the ICPC will gather the best and brightest computer programmers around the globe for an all-out "battle of the brains." Tackling these problems is equivalent to completing a semester's worth of computer programming in one afternoon, contest officials said.

Mary Kay Tarver, ECU assistant professor of computer science and ECU's site director, said Friday evening's activities will be check-in, general information, practice and a voluntary scripting contest. Following the five-hour programming contest on Saturday, various site awards will be presented.

The competition is sponsored by IBM. This year's regional competitions are expected to include tens of thousands of students from universities around the world.

With the rapid pace of change in today's IT industry, integrated approaches to business and technology at the university level are considered essential. Through this collaboration between industry and academia, the contest exposes the world's brightest college and university information technology students to so-called open source technologies being adopted by innovative businesses and organizations.

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