Digital Media Software Engineering Students Compete in Day-Long Programming Challenge

Two Digital Media Software Engineering students put their skills to the test as Ferris State University’s representatives in the IEEExtreme Programming Competition on Oct. 23 and 24.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers welcomed 1,200 participants for the 24-hour, virtual challenge event, where teams of graduate and undergraduate students work on problems related to programming around the clock. Kallyn Gowdy, from Cutlerville, and Ryan Toms-King, from Independence, Mo., joined DMSE faculty member Rick Baker in an Applied Technology Center laboratory on Grand Rapids Community College’s campus for the competition.

Toms-King said he was a spectator in IEEExtreme 8.0 in 2014, and that gave him perspective on how to approach their work, and what would be needed to stay focused in the day-long event.

“We consumed a lot of caffeine to stay awake,” Toms-King said. “That’s a pretty common thing. Spectating during previous competition helped me figure out how to break down problems, how the games were played. We tried to take on most of the smaller problems, then tackle one of the larger ones, all in an effort to score points.”

Gowdy said that they were satisfied with their arrangement, though many teams in the competition had three members.

“Having two members really worked for us, as we’d collaborate, while one of us brainstormed,” Gowdy said. “It’s going through problem solving to achieve the goals they want.”

Faculty member Rick Baker joined Gowdy and Toms-King for IEEExtreme, as the institute requires a proctor for each team participating. Baker said the students deserve the credit, though he did secure the pizza provided by the university for Ferris’ team.

“I had, by far, the easiest role, and by 2 p.m. on the 24th, I was worn out,” Baker said. “Other schools have been doing this longer, and their teams could collaborate.”

Gowdy said one school from India had 40 teams in the competition. Ferris’ team finished in the top 15 percent of all competitors, and Toms-King said that they were thrilled by the experience, with plans to improve their effort in 2016.

“It’s like coming off a roller coaster, we’re thinking about what we can do to climb even higher next time,” Toms-King said. “The competition drives different results than real-world applications, you design the solution comprehensively.”

Baker said the DMSE department is hoping to hand select teams for IEEExtreme 10.0, and start training them, to build on the collaborative opportunity.

“It’s challenging. It’s what the students want to do, solving tough problems,” Baker said.

Gowdy said he is looking forward to the next competition.

“The end goal is to have fun,” Gowdy said.

PHOTO CAPTION: Digital Media Software Engineering students Kallyn Gowdy (left) and Ryan Toms-King (right) represented Ferris State University in IEEExtreme, the annual programming competition of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in October. They finished in the top 15% of the teams that took part in the 24-hour event.

Last updated: 01-21-2016