The UCF programming team is set to compete as a world finalist in a battle of the brains on Wednesday in Morocco.
With more than 12,000 teams competing across the globe, the team representing UCF has made it as one of the 128 teams advancing to the world finals.
Participation this year saw more than 42,000 students and almost 5,000 coaches compete in an Association for Computing Machinery International Collegiate Programming Contest event.
The team that gave UCF the championship title for the southeast region consists of recent computer science graduates John Boswell and Tyler Brazill — who have full-time positions lined up for them at Google — and computer science senior Evan Dorundo.
This advancement marks UCF's 26th return to the world programming stage, and its fourth consecutive year since 2011. Teams at UCF have consistently made it to the world competition since 2004.
Brazill said the team is excited to go to Morocco and is looking forward to competing with the world's top programmers.
This year, both the team and its adviser Ali Orooji have set a goal to at least beat all the teams coming from the United States. Notable American schools — such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University and Georgia Institute of Technology — have teams competing in the world finals.
"The fact that [the team] is already in the top one percent, that is already an accomplishment," Orooji said. "We're hoping to be the top five percent of the U.S. teams."
To get there, the team stressed the importance of practice. During the summer, the members were encouraged to do practice problems on the programming team's website. Orooji had the team practice every Saturday for seven to eight hours starting last fall semester.
"The programming competitions are just like any other sport," Orooji said. "It's just a matter of practice. The more you practice, the better you get."
Team member Dorundo said that while he feels like he's as ready as he will ever be, there will always be skills he needs and doesn't have to solve a general problem-solving question.
The team has to work together on one computer to come up with algorithms for given problems, with a time limit of five hours.
Boswell said the biggest lesson he's taking with him is to step back and think through his solutions, instead of jumping right into writing code.
"It can really help improve your coding style and increase your functionality," Boswell said. "Considering how we have to share a console, essentially we're fighting for one computer and then typing code. We can think all we want and it's not hurting anyone, but any time we spend typing is kicking two of our teammates off the console."
The team left for the trip on Sunday, and will spend a few days practicing and exploring in Paris, France, as a reward for making it to finals.
Amelia Truong is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @Ameliatruong or email her at AmyTCentralFloridaFuture.com.