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MSU Profiles

Competition success instills confidence and pride

In a rigorous competition, up against the clock and 22 institutions, Minot State University students made it to the top at the Digi-Key Collegiate Computing Competition, bringing home the traveling trophy and a $5,000 award for the first time. MSU seniors Saliou Diallo, Brandon Alvino and Dennis Uhrmacher and junior Hayk Margaryan knew the competition would be fierce, competing against much larger institutions such as Minnesota State University, University of Wisconsin, North Dakota State University and University of North Dakota, but that didn't sway their confidence.

"We didn't exactly prepare like some students do," Saliou said. "Some start preparing immediately after the competition for next year. We prepared for 30 minutes the night before. But I feel we've gained a lot of knowledge and skill here (MSU), and we went in confident and gave it our best."

While they didn't prepare much on their own for the competition, many MSU professors prepared them throughout their education at Minot State.

"I applaud our mathematics MSU professors for doing a great job," Said Scott Kast, chair and assistant professor within the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science. "Many of our computer science classes prepare the students for the programming problems, and some of the professors use old Digi-Key problems as class assignments, which helps them become familiar with the types of questions."

In addition to the traveling trophy and award, Diallo, Alvino, Urhmacher and Hayk received $300 each, and walked away with a new instilled confidence.

"Going into the competition I was a little worried about my problem-solving abilities and was concerned that I wouldn't be much help," Uhrmacher said. "But this gave me so much confidence and showed me that I can actually do this, and will be able to do what employers require."

The competition is for juniors and seniors majoring in computer science or information systems. It takes team effort and is truly a learning experience for each participant on multiple levels.

"We all help each other when we get into a bind," said Alvino. "Each of us has our strengths and will help one another with homework. While we have great camaraderie, we also compete against each other!"

"Winning this competition showed us that we are on the right track for what we are doing," said Hayk. "I would definitely tell others that if they are going to be in a competition, go motivated and always go with a goal of first place."

The Digi-Key competition consists of three main events: short programming problems, long programming problems and word problems. Diallo, Alvino, Urhmacher and Hayk took first place in the short programming event.