NDSU student team takes second place at ‘MechMania’ competition
The NDSU student chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery (NDSU ACM) recently took second place in a prestigious Midwest programming competition. The group participated in “MechMania” at the annual “Reflections | Projections” ACM conference at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Oct. 7-9.
MechMania is a 24-hour artificial intelligence programming competition of which the NDSU ACM has been a perennial competitor. The contest is an outstanding learn-by-doing experience that prepares competitors for the deadline pressures of the workplace.
This year, MechMania teams developed artificial intelligence players for “Thrust Wars,” a game where players must control their fleet of “Asteroids” style space ships and score points by gathering resources, building ships, refineries and bases while battling or destroying the other team’s ships, refineries and bases.
NDSU’s PiRho team of students Zechariah Andersen, Benjamin Bechtold and Justin Anderson took second place in a photo finish to a team from UIUC.
“The MechMania competition gave us good insight on how to rapidly develop software efficiently,” said Andersen, a junior from Velva, N.D.
Bechtold, a senior from Velva, N.D., described the experience as a great way to get ready for upcoming career challenges. “This competition helped me prepare for the job market,” he said. “I was able to collaborate with a team to solve problems and implement solutions.”
For Anderson, a senior from Frazee, Minn., the competition held important lessons. “Rome wasn't built in a day, nor was it built by one person. Working with Zech and Ben at MechMania taught me that teamwork is crucial for success, especially when time is a big factor,” he said.
Team members received an Amazon Kindle and 100GB of space from Dropbox for life as prizes for placing second.
The team was sponsored, in part, by the NDSU Department of Computer Science.
For more details on NDSU ACM events, visit www.acm.ndsu.nodak.edu.