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Students from universities in Oklahoma and Texas will come to East Central University Oct. 17-18 [FRIDAY-SATURDAY] to sharpen their programming skills while competing in the 33rd 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 Abilene Christian Universities.

All four sites will compete simultaneously with only one winner. That winner, the team that uses its programming skills, creativity and business sense to solve complex, real-world problems under a grueling five-hour deadline, will advance to the World Finals next April in Stockholm, Sweden.

Each team has three members. The competition at ECU will include 21 teams from ECU, the University of Central Oklahoma, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Oral Roberts University, University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University, the University of Tulsa, University of North Texas, Southern Methodist University, Texas Christian University and the University of Texas at Tyler.

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 instructor of computer science and ECU's site director, said Friday evening's activities will be check-in, general information, practice and a new "scripting contest." Following the five-hour programming contest on Saturday, site awards will be presented to the top three teams in the undergraduate and graduate divisions, the first team to solve each problem and to other recipients.

The competition is sponsored by IBM. This year's regional competitions are expected to include tens of thousands of students from universities in 83 countries on six continents.

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 technologies being adopted by innovative businesses and organizations.

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