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LETU Computer Programming Students Win Honorable Mention


LeTourneau University computer science students Micah Shennum of Winona Lake, Ind., Terry Penner of Kenora, Ontario, and Daniel Rothfus of Fort Worth, Texas, returned from the World Finals of the International Collegiate Programming Competition held St. Petersburg, Russia. The event was hosted by the St. Petersburg National Research University.
The LETU team members were three of 360 competitors who qualified for the international competition from among 30,000 worldwide who first competed in regional competitions. After placing first regionally, the LETU team took on heavy competition from 120 university teams from across the globe, each of which already earned 1st place in its respective regional competition.
Big-name competitors included MIT, Carnegie Mellon, the Beijing Institute of Technology, Cairo University and St. Petersburg National Research University, to name a few.
Since the ICPC does not distinguish between schools with undergraduate and graduate programs, the LETU team faced the even bigger challenge of going up against teams with graduate student members. Even against such stiff competition, the LETU team earned an honorable mention alongside teams from schools like the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, University of Chicago, and South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.
The three LETU students each said their favorite experience during their time in St. Petersburg was hearing a presentation from Bjarne Stroustrup, inventor of the C++ computer programming language.
"He just looked like a normal college professor, but then I would realize he is the man who created the language that I use every day, and my stomach would do a bit of a flip," Shennum said.
But what the team took away from the competition was more than a few cool experiences and a bullet point on a resume.
"The most important thing that I learned was the lesson of how important it is to focus your energy on the battles that you can win," Penner said. "If you are not understanding something, take a break from it. Go find something else to work on that you can understand. Maybe you'll understand it later; maybe you won't. But at least you will be making progress in some area, rather than wasting time running up against a wall."
Shennum said he learned a lot about teamwork, since each team only got one computer to work with.
"Teamwork is a major part of the competition," he said. "It's not just about taking turns with the computer, but knowing your teammates' strengths, how they think. That is pretty important."
And at an international competition, the LETU team couldn't help but do a little networking.
"This competition broadened the scope of my peers," Rothfus said. "I am looking forward to the chance of working with some of these guys on real-life problems, and I definitely want to see what they are doing in the future."
LeTourneau University is an interdenominational Christ-centered university located in Longview, Texas, with undergraduate and graduate programs online and at education centers around the state.
Academic majors include aviation, business, communication, computer science, criminal justice, education, engineering, health care administration, health science-nursing, human services, kinesiology, the liberal arts, the sciences and psychology.
Claiming every workplace in every nation as its mission field, LeTourneau University graduates are professionals of ingenuity and Christ-like character who see life's work as a holy calling with eternal impact.

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