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Willamette University -TechStart Programming Contest

2014 Contest Details

March 15, 2014
George Putnam University Center
Willamette University
Salem, Oregon

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TechStart Education Foundation is proud to co-host the 28th annual Willamette University-TechStart Education Foundation High School Computer Programming Contest on March 15, 2014. Check-in begins at 8:30am.

Each year every high school in the Oregon region is invited to send a team of up to four students. Many teams are chosen as the best in the computer science class at their school. We are also happy to accept teams of students who have studied on their own because their school does not offer computer science or programming classes. Rules will be posted soon, for now you can download the 2012 Contest Rules.

Questions about the contest? Email Fritz Ruehr at

If you are a teacher, consider registering a student team and joining us for the 2014 SuperQuest Spring Conference. This collaborative K-12 professional development series will have something for everyone.

Contest Problems

Contest problems have a very wide range of difficulty. We try to include at least two problems that even novices could solve. We also include two or three that would be appropriate for advanced college students. Extra points reward solutions to the most difficult problems, as determined by the number of teams that solve that problem.

Contest Details

  • The contest is held in a large room in the George Putnam Student Center at Willamette University.
  • Each team brings one computer.
  • At 10:00 AM a set of 12 to 14 problems is distributed to the teams.
  • The students write programs to solve as many of these problems as they can. They divide tasks among themselves and work cooperatively in any way they wish.
  • As soon as a team believes it has a program that solves a problem, they submit their program (e.g., on a thumb drive) to the contest judges.
  • The judges test the program on test data that remain confidential until after the contest.
  • If the program is not successful, the team is allowed to resubmit a revised solution without penalty. If the program is successful, it is judged for style—legibility and flexibility.
  • The program is awarded seven points for correctness and up to three points for style. Most programs receive the full three style points.
  • The first correct program for each problem is the one judged for style; there is no opportunity to get a quick and dirty program running, then clean it up for style judging!
  • The contest closes at 3:00 PM and the teams with the most points are awarded trophies.


Trophies are awarded to the top three teams and to the top novice team (one from a school that is entering the contest for the first time).

A Note about Teamwork

The contest is designed to encourage teamwork. By allowing only one computer for each team, the contest mandates collaboration among students. We allow each team to bring any materials it wishes, and even suggest they bring certain modules that will be useful in at least one problem. This encourages teams to think and work in the directions of modularity and software reuse.