A team of students from Virginia Tech placed third in the country and 21st out of 70 teams from around the world in the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest and also took first in the Java Challenge.

Those 70 teams competed in regional contests in 68 countries on six continents. Around the world, 3,850 teams competed in regional contests.

The winning Virginia Tech team trailed only Cal Tech and the University of California at Berkeley in teams from the United States. The competition challenged students to tackle a semester's worth of computer programming in one afternoon in a battle of logic, strategy, and mental endurance. The students on the winning Virginia Tech team were Adrian Porter, Alex Kalita, James Eckman, and reserve Joseph Gleason.

Virginia Tech had entered five teams in the Mid-Atlantic Regional contest this year and earned first, second, and third places out of 150 teams from New Jersey, North Carolina, Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware, and Washington, D.C. That qualified them for the international contest, sponsored by IBM and held this year in Beverly Hills, Cal., at the same time as the Oscars. For information about the types of problems the students had to solve in the competition, see http://icpc.baylor.edu/icpc/Finals/IBMPressRelease2003.pdf

At the international competition, the Virginia Tech students named above placed first in the Java Challenge, a direct, real-time competition in which students wrote software to compete against each other in a rally car race. Second and third places went to Louisiana State University and the University of Waterloo.

The teams were coached by Sallie Henry, a retired Virginia Tech computer-science professor, who received an award for her service to ACM-ICPC sponsored by IBM. Henry has coached the teams for 21 years and has been the director of the Mid-Atlantic Regional contest for 15 years.

The winners of the international competition were teams from Warsaw University in Poland, Moscow State University, St. Petersburg Institute of Fine Mechanics and Optics, and Comenius University in Slovakia. U-Cal and Berkeley tied for 13th place.