Area high school students participate in UTPA's computer science competition
Posted: 03/03/2010
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Nineteen teams from nine Rio Grande Valley high schools participated in the annual High School Written and Hands-On Programming Contest Feb. 20 sponsored by the Computer Science Department at The University of Texas-Pan American.

The competition, directed by Gustavo Dietrich, lecturer in the Department of Computer Science, included 13 programming problems worth from 10 to 30 points each and, new this year, a novice and veteran-level written test similar in format to UIL competition written tests. The first five places from each category received a trophy.

Pictured left to right at the High School Written and Hands-On Programming Contest held Feb. 20 conducted by the UTPA Department of Computer Science are Gustavo Dietrich, Computer Science Department lecturer and contest director; Anthony Garza and Aaron Vega,students from Weslaco HIgh School and first place winning team in the Hands-On Programming Contest; and David Egle, Computer Science Department lecturer and contest judge. Garza also placed first in the veteran level written contest.
Placing first in the Hands-On Programming Contest was the team of Anthony Garza and Aaron Vega from Weslaco High School. They solved 10 of the 13 problems and finished with a score of 150. Their team was sponsored by Robert Medrano. Runner up teams included the following: Tyler Williamson and Jhan Henry, Weslaco High School, second place; Rolando Gonzalez, Lucas Cross and Daniel Flores, Weslaco East High School, third place; Rodolfo Garza, Andy Medina, and Daniela Garza, La Joya High School, fourth place; and Nicole Kelly, Ricky Nieto, and Robert Marquez, Weslaco High School, fifth place.

Fifty-seven students took part in the written contest in one of two categories, veteran or novice. Veteran level written test winner was Anthony Garza, Weslaco High School (Robert Medrano, sponsor). Runners up were Aaron Vega, Weslaco High School, second; Javier Marroquin, BETA, third; Caleb Watt, Sharyland High School, fourth; and Peter Carmona, Weslaco High School, fifth. Novice level written test winner was Sharon Thomas, BETA (Alejandro Garcia, sponsor). Runner ups were Adrian Lopez, BETA, second; Andy Medina, La Loy High School, third; Ivan Salinas, Edinburg North High School, fourth; and Lucas Cross, Weslaco East High School, fifth.

Contest sponsors - the competitors' high school teachers - and members of the Association for Computing Machinery student chapter at UTPA assisted in conducting the competition. Serving as judges were lecturers David Egle and Tony Piazza and David Kirtley, software system specialist III - all from the Department of Computer Science.

Sharon Thomas, a BETA student, placed first in the novice level written contest in the computer science department's Feb. 20 competition for area high schools.
"Our department holds this contest to promote the computer science field in general and our department and computer science programs at UTPA in particular across high schools. Also, we hope their feeling of accomplishment once the competition finishes will increase their self-esteem, especially considering that computer science is a field that requires a high level of abstract and critical thinking," Dietrich said. "The event was so successful that we are now planning to hold another contest in the fall."

The Department of Computer Science offers a CAC/ABET accredited Bachelor of Science in Computer Science (BSCS) degree with a major in computer science. A Bachelor of Science (BS) degree with a major in Computer Science with a required minor field and an 18-hour minor in Computer Science are also offered. In addition, the department has partnered with the Department of Electrical Engineering to award a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering (BSCE). Graduate programs include a Master of Science in Computer Science and a Master of Science in Information Technology.

"Our students are hired by Fortune 500 companies like IBM, Lockheed Martin, Intel, Microsoft, Walmart and Exxon, just to name a few. Our graduates can also be found at local companies or institutions like UTPA, The Blue Thing Web Design, and Hamer Enterprises or have started their own companies developing software, creating and maintaining Web sites, and installing and maintaining networks for local businesses," he said.

For more information on the Department of Computer Science, go to