UCF Students Win Bronze in 2022 North America College Programming Competition, Advance to Global Finals

UCF computer programming students were among the winners of the prestigious North American Championship Round of the 2022 International College Programming Competition (ICPC) at the University of Central Florida over Memorial Day weekend , beating dozens of the continent’s top teams to take seventh place and advance to the World Finals.

UCF hosted the event and competed against 49 other elite teams comprised of three student programmers from institutions in the United States and Canada in the North American Championship. Teams such as Stanford, MIT, Harvard, Georgia Tech and others battled it out until the winners emerged.

Facing an intense battle of brains, the competition pitted teams of three university students against at least eight complex real-world problems, with a grueling five-hour time limit. Grouped around a single computer, competitors raced against the clock in a battle of logic, strategy and mental endurance.

The UCF team was among the winners who qualified for next year’s World Finals, to be held in Budapest, Hungary. The three qualified UCF programmers include Sharon Barak ’21 ’22MS, Daniel West and Seba Villalobos. Only the top 16 teams or so will now qualify for the World Finals in 2023.

The winning teams included MIT in first place, Swarthmore College in second, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison in third. Georgia Tech, Rutgers, Purdue and the University of Washington also rank in the top 10 along with UCF.

More than 20,000 teams from more than 100 countries compete each year in regional competitions. In March, the UCF team exited the Southeastern United States Regional Programming Contest to earn a spot in the North American Championship.

The competition has attracted major sponsors including the US Department of Defense, National Security Agency (NSA), National Security Innovation Network (NSIN), Tech Grove and UCF.

Tech company recruiters offer many programming students high salaries before they even graduate, much the same way professional sports teams seek out elite athletes. Programming students who earn consistently can end up at Google, Microsoft, Amazon, or Facebook.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in IT and computer occupations is expected to increase 13% from 2020 to 2030, adding approximately 667,600 new jobs due to strong demand for workers in these fields. The median annual salary for these occupations was $97,430 in May 2021, which is significantly higher than the median for all occupations of $45,760.

In addition to hosting the event, UCF is also a longtime competitor. For more than 40 years, UCF has been among the nation’s best in ICPC competitions, and in 2018 ranked No. 1 in North America and No. 10 in the world. A UCF team has qualified for the World Finals every year for the past decade.

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