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Last Tuesday, Rochester Institute of Technology held its fourth annual high school programming contest. Six high schools from Western and central New York participated.

A total of 15 teams consisting of three students each were given one computer to work with. For three hours, the teams worked on solving eight programming problems that ranged from easy to difficult.

Contest organizer Paul Tymann said, “I always try to design the problem set so that every team, regardless of ability, will get one or two problems correct. I also want to keep all of the teams working on problems until the very end. So there need to be some difficult problems in the mix as well.”

The competition was intense, and no team completed more than five of the problems.

Michael O’Gorman, a senior at Williamsville North High School, said, “The problems were either at or above AP [Computer Science] level.”

Team rankings fluctuated, so the outcome was far from certain.

Bhaskar Roberts, a sophomore at Williamsville North, said, “My team was in first place for about the first half of the competition, but then a team from [behind] eventually won.”

Although the competition is designed for students with programming experience, anyone can compete.

“Basic problem-solving and programming skills are all that is needed to be successful,” Tyman said.

The winners of the competition were: Webster Schroeder High School, first place; Ithaca High School, second place; and Nichols School, third place.

Kathan Roberts is a sophomore at Williamsville North High School.