Durham students win IBM University Team Challenge
(17 October 2006)
A team of Computer Science students from Durham University pushed Cambridge off the top spot to take first prize for the second time in seven years.
The 2006 IBM University Team Challenge was held at IBM Hursley in Hampshire where 18 teams including Durham, Bristol Cambridge, Oxford, Edinburgh and York met for the eighth annual competition. The Durham team, all aged 20, were Stephen Cummins from Bury St Edmunds, Sam Du Mont from Bristol, Chris Hull from Northampton, Nathan Richards from Yorkshire and Richard Tiffany from Leeds. Each won an IBM ThinkPad laptop and the Department of Computer Science collected a cheque for £1,000. The teams all met up the night before the two-day competition at a hotel and were welcomed by several senior IBM managers and the event organisers. The next day, a series of presentations and demonstrations were given followed by a tour of Hursley before the serious business of competing began. Sarah Drummond, a teaching fellow at Durham, said of the award: “The competition places particular emphasis upon teamwork, and was keenly fought between the top 18 UK universities. Over the last seven years of the competition Durham’s Computer Science students have now won the event twice, and have come second on two other occasions.” Each team had to complete a set of tasks in such categories as physical, senses, communication, logic, mystery and computer. Tasks ranged from cracking software code to communicating information via sign language. The Durham team was the only university to successfully complete all categories of task before embarking on the final quick fire general knowledge quiz. Team member Stephen Cummins said: “One of our challenges was a 'senses' challenge. This challenge involved communicating 5 sets of alphanumeric values (all 5 digits each) to a member of the team, without the member who has to write the values being able to see or hear us. We came up with a set of tactile codes where we could communicate the values to the team member by tapping them on various areas of their body.” "Running the programme means we have a super excuse to visit these leading universities regularly," adds Paul Fairbairn, organiser of the IBM event, "and it helps keep IBM's name in the frame all-year round. All the students have a great time with us and several participants have told us that the event completely changed their perceptions of the company."