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campus scene

Bravo! Linguist wins teaching prize
Faustini wins Ciancio Award
Retiring faculty
Dick Hihn and Kris Szymborski
Intercultural reach and depth Skidmore's first intercultural-studies director
Professoriat What the faculty are up to
Geek squad squareoff Skidmore techies in programming contest
Idea marketplace Guest lectures touch on society and scholarship
Books Faculty and alumni authors
Sky command Using the wolrd's biggest radiotelescope
Shaping campus sustainablity Coordinator goes for the green
On exhibit Now at Skidmore's Schick Art Gallery and Tang Museum
Sportswrap Thoroughbred highlights

Geek squad squareoff

Three intrepid Skidmore
techies made it to the Northeast finals of the Association for Computing Machinery’s computer-programming contest. Skidmore faculty member Michael Eckmann (who knew of the ACM competition from his grad-school days) invited students to take part and ended up with eight eager gamers in three teams. At October’s preliminary contest in Boston, seventeen college and university teams gathered in a lecture hall for five hours of grappling with six programming problems. Big powers like Brown University and Fitchburg State dominated, eliminating two of the Skidmore teams. But Infinite Recursion—Gary Lau ’09, Nick Moran ’08, and Hao Yang ’09—solved three of the problems to earn a berth at the finals.

Twelve schools from the northeast US and Canada competed at the regional finals, held at Rochester Institute of Technology in November. This time, the programmers faced eight problems in five hours. Each team was locked in a room with a computer, a whiteboard, paper, and any reference books the members chose to bring. They submitted their answers by e-mail to a panel of judges, who e-mailed back to reveal whether they were correct or not. When the time was up, Infinite Recursion had cracked three problems and finished in fifth place, behind…raise your geek flags high…MIT, Brown, Harvard, and McGill.

Eckmann was thrilled, calling the showing “quite an accomplishment for a small college like Skidmore in its first year in the competition.” Moran says he didn’t feel overmatched, even though his group jumped in with little preparation against well-organized veterans. After all, he notes, “Harvard solved only one more problem than we did.” Eckmann has high hopes for a rematch next year. —SR