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.

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