Riding high after IEEEXtreme competition success

Last Updated 21 February, 2019

In October 2018, juniors Garrisen Cizmich (engineering) and Jacob Winters (computer science) represented NNU in IEEEXtreme, a computer coding competition spanning 24 hours where students compete against each other worldwide to solve a set of programming problems with one new problem per hour. Cizmich and Winters placed eighth in the nation, among 150 other United States teams.

As a result of their top performance, Cizmich and Winters were awarded a free trip to Las Vegas in January for the IEEE Rising Stars conference, which also granted them access into the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show.

“The conference was a great opportunity to get out in the western region and be able to interact with other students in our field,” Cizmich said. “It was so encouraging to talk to professionals with years of experience and be able to see what kind of opportunities could open up for me in my future.”

At the conference and Consumer Electronics Show, our students interacted one-on-one with leading tech giants in the industry and had the chance to learn more about technical topics, gain professional advice, engage in networking and see cutting edge technology first-hand from the source.

“Connecting with other people was great,” Winters added. “It was really exciting to hear from the conference speakers and get to learn about new and emerging technology from the people who are inventing these things.”

Following the competition, both students gave interviews for engineering internships at HP Inc., one of the local sponsors of the IEEEtreme competition. Cizmich and Winters went through the interview process with HP, but both ended up accepting other offers—leading to more unexpected perks than just a weekend trip to Las Vegas.

Cizmich accepted a summer internship as a test engineer with Plexus Corp., located in Nampa, Idaho. “I think I got this internship due to our performance in the coding competition,” he said. “I never expected this to result from doing so well in the competition, but it is definitely been a pleasant surprise to see what all has come from it.”

After going through the interview process with HP, Winters received an offer for a summer internship, but by the time he heard back from HP, he had already accepted an internship with Kount, Inc. Kount is a local Boise-based company that specializes in credit card fraud detection.

Both Cizmich and Winters feel that their education at NNU helped immensely not only with their competition success and job offers, but also in preparing them for their future professions in computer science and engineering.

“A lot of schools will encourage their engineering students to choose an emphasis early on, which means that the majority of your courses would focus only on the specific topic,” Cizmich noted. NNU takes a more holistic approach to education, having students choose their emphasis as an upperclassman, instead of right at the beginning of their college career. “My education has been big picture,” he said.

In the computer science department, Winters has been given the opportunity to work with machine learning, artificial intelligence and data science—giving him a broad range of skills to master. “It is so cool having the opportunity to watch this machine and see the research first-hand on our campus,” he said. “Not only do we get to see this technology, but our professors also create group projects that are incorporated with developing tools to analyze the effective wildfire drone energy they are working on in their own labs.”

When asked if they are going to compete in the competition this year, Winters and Cizmich both nodded and smiled in unison with an overwhelmingly excited, “YES.” Until then our two-man computer programming powerhouse will be anxiously awaiting and mentally preparing for the competition that will take place in October 2019.