ACM LogoWeber State University’s Association for Computing Machinery chapter will host a programming competition for students. The chapter offers an outlet for WSU students to enhance their experience outside of the classroom in an environment that enables them to grow as programmers and computer science enthusiasts.

The ACM is not only a WSU club, but offers national access to the latest in technology and advances in the computer science field with its national chapter membership. The ACM has chapters at schools across the country and offers many benefits, including scholarships specifically for women in the computer science field.

“The benefits for joining the national chapter is that you can be in their database for putting your resume out there to network, which is great for computer science students,” said Heidi Jensen, WSU senior and head of Women in Computer Science.

Bryan Mason, head of the WSU Programming Club and an ACM officer, said the competition helps students generate projects to show potential employers.

“The real goal is to have students do real projects to put on their resume when you apply to employers and go into interviews; they’re really looking for outside interest,” he said. “They want to know that you’re interested in this stuff, not just doing your classwork.”

Registration for the programming competition begins at 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 2 in the Technical Education Building, Room 103D. There is a $5 registration fee to enter the competition, which covers registration for the WSU chapter as well. The competition will begin at 2 p.m. Participants will have two hours to write programs for roughly 10 problems written by WSU computer science professors.

The competition is open to anyone who is interested in programming to gain experience and challenge themselves in new ways.

“The programming competition sounds intimidating, but we really welcome people new in computer science,” Mason said.

Participants are allowed to enter the competition by themselves or in teams of three.

“It’s a good way to get involved with people that know more than you, and if you are working as a team, you can learn a lot,” Jensen said.

Participants in the competition may be able to compete with WSU’s ACM chapter in regional and national competitions at a later date.

Brian Rague, the chair of WSU’s computer science department, praised the programming contest.

“The programming contest offers an excellent opportunity for students to sharpen their coding skills and to realize that they can go well beyond what they think are their current programming limitations,” he said. “The contest also provides an environment in which students can collaborate on a common goal that has a well-defined deadline. The challenges that students face when participating in this type of contest is really a concentrated, high-intensity version of the kinds of issues that arise when programming software in the real world.”

WSU’s ACM chapter isn’t all work; it plans events and socials throughout the semester.

“We bring in speakers from the computer science field. We do tours at potential employers such as Hill Air Force Base and Avalanche Studios,” Mason said. “We have LAN parties and socials. The computer science department has a gaming lab where we’ve done Xbox and played ‘Halo’ on projectors. We also have a lab with computers where we can swap out the hard drive and play games like ‘Starcraft’ and ‘Team Fortress.'”

Students with similar computer science interests are welcome to join WSU’s ACM chapter. Interested students can join without participating in the programming competition. Signup sheets are available in the Technical Education Building.

More information on joining the national ACM chapter is available at ACM.org.

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