Three Kentucky State University students performed well during a global computer programming competition.

Kentucky State juniors Derek Roberts, Kevin Smeeks and John Blair were one of 5,155 teams participating in the recent IEEEXtreme 24-hour global computing programming competition. Teams compete against each other in a 24-hour time span to solve a set of programming problems.

Kentucky State’s team finished in the top 34 percent of the field.

Kentucky State professor Dr. Chi Shen said this is the first time a team from Kentucky State received points at the competition and that most teams don’t receive any points.

“Since this competition is open to all students, including Ph.D. and graduate students, you can imagine how well our three Kentucky State undergraduate students did,” Shen said. “They have done an incredible job and I am very, very proud of our Thorobreds.”

“Competitions like these are extremely useful tools to prepare our students for the challenges they will face in the computer science workforce and allow them to stand out in the crowd,” Dr. Jens Hannemann, associate professor of computer science, said.

“IEEEXtreme was a great experience,” Smeeks said. “The problems were very challenging and made you think of multiple possibilities and outcomes. We tried to spend as much time working as possible. Even when the University of Kentucky students went to their dorms for a full night’s sleep, we stayed up and continued working.”

Smeeks said he would recommend the competition to anyone learning to code.

“Don’t worry about how well you do but try your best and use it as a learning experience,” Smeeks said.

Derek Roberts also highly recommended the experience.

“I would recommend participating to anyone that codes,” Roberts said. “It teaches you how to handle pressure and solve time-sensitive problems while working with a team. These skills are incredibly valuable in the workplace and in life. Regardless of the outcome, confidence is built by even making it through the experience.”