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Computer Programming Team Competes in World Finals Competition

photo of ACM students. Three USD computer science students competed in the Association for Computing Machinery International Collegiate Programming Contest.

VERMILLION, S.D. – Three University of South Dakota computer science students competed in the Association for Computing Machinery International Collegiate Programming Contest world finals in Rapid City, May 24.

Kurtis Van Gent, of Sheldon, Iowa, Ben Erickson, of Slayton, Minnesota, and Mitchell Peterson, of Centerville, South Dakota, qualified for the competition after competing in a regional competition last fall. All three competed in the same competition in Thailand last year.

“It’s pretty hard to get into the finals,” said Doug Goodman, the team’s coach and associate professor of computer science. “We’ve been competing to get to the finals for all the time I’ve been here, which is 30 years. This is the first team that ever got there.”

The world finals competition requires not only coding skills but also knowledge of arcane algorithms.

“There are two parts of the problem: you have to use an algorithm to solve the problem then you have to code it as well,” said Van Gent, who will work for Google in San Francisco, California, after graduating this summer. “They try to make the problems hard so they use these rare algorithms that aren’t common, so we haven’t studied them.”

His team member Mitchell Peterson began a job at Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The third teammate, Ben Erickson, will graduate this summer.


USD's College of Arts & Sciences offers students a top-notch undergraduate liberal arts education in the humanities, social sciences and sciences as well as graduate programs that have earned USD distinction as a research university by the Carnegie Foundation. The college's more than 22,000 alumni include famous journalists, Hollywood screenwriters, novelists, a Nobel Prize winner, South Dakota governors, attorneys, physicians, justices of the state Supreme Court, distinguished university faculty and international humanitarians.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Hanna DeLange
USD News