Competing with Code - College Station Code Society Members Advance in National Contest
Updated: Mar 10, 2022
On the first Tuesday of every month, young coders gather in a classroom as the College Station Code Society. They crowd around each other’s computers, solve problems and work out logistical issues on the white board, speaking in technological tongues foreign to most, but in which they all seem fluent. Recently, some of these very students competed in a competition called USACO - the United States of America Computing Olympiad.
“I enjoy trying to figure out the logic behind the problems. It provides an exciting challenge, especially when I figure out the correct way,” Kyler Larsen said. “Although the problems can be very difficult, it is satisfying to finish them, which is part of the reason why I participate in the contest.”
Larsen is currently a junior at A&M Consolidated High School and is the Vice President of College Station Code Society. He advanced to the Silver division in USACO recently. It was Larsen’s idea to use the club as a platform for practicing USACO problems.
USACO competitors are placed in four divisions: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. The competition is held through the USACO website and consists of three questions per division. Contestants are given a five day period to solve the problems from their respective division, working within a four hour window once they open their problems.
“All the problems are designed to be challenging, even the ones in Bronze,” Larsen said. “In fact, very few people make it to Gold, and even less make it to Platinum.”
If a coder successfully completes all three problems from his division, they are given the opportunity to move up a division and attempt the more advanced problems, but must do so within the same five day window. If they don’t perfect their three prompts, coders may still move up a division, and are scored out of 1000 points based on their performance (333.33 points per problem). After this, a cutoff score for each division is decided by officials and results are generally posted within a week of the five day window ending.
“There aren’t really prizes for advancing, just the feeling of accomplishment,” Larsen said. “If you’re good enough, like really, really good, and you score high enough in Platinum, you can advance to the national training camp.”
The top 20 - 30 competitors in USACO are invited to a national training camp in the summer, from which four contestants are selected to represent the USA in the IOI - the International Olympiad in Informatics.
In total, four members of College Station Code Society competed in USACO this year: Aiden Loyd, who competed in the Bronze division, Kyler Larsen and Michael Yang, who advanced to the Silver division, and Will Wang, who advanced to the Gold division.
“I want to turn Code Society into a haven for all coders,” Larsen said. “Right now, I’m primarily focusing on the competitive side of the club, but I also want to see the club grow into a society for fellow coders.”
College Station Code Society is a club supported by Avant Garde - College Prep Services. If you or someone you know would be interested in expanding their coding skills in an exciting environment with other students their age, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.