UTD’s CPS Teams Finish First in Statewide Competition

Two Creative Problem Solving (CPS) teams from The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) finished in first place last weekend in a statewide competition in Houston put on by the Texas Creative Problem Solving Organization (TXCPSO).

The annual competition, which is designed to teach life skills and imagination-expanding exercises through team-based, problem solving activities, included teams from the elementary through university level from across the state.

UTD’s two teams, made up of six and seven students each, rallied to win against six collegiate teams from five schools, including Eastfield College, Sul Ross State University, Texas Tech University, Texas A&M University and The University of Texas at Austin. The teams had been preparing for the event since last fall.

One team competed in the “It’s Your Move” category, which involved creating an organized game and a vehicle that served as a game piece. According to Lana Sooter, team manager and assistant to the dean of undergraduate education at UTD, the problem was one of the most complicated at the competition and the UTD team was the only collegiate team to select the challenge.

The other UTD team competed in the “Art of Improv” category, which required research in various areas, including art objects and exploration. For this problem, students were randomly presented with a subject they researched and given 30 minutes to create a skit to convey the topic. U.T. Austin and Texas Tech placed second and third, respectively, in this category. Notably, UTD’s “Art of Improv” team was made up entirely of freshmen, over half of whom had never competed in a CPS competition, much less against veteran teams.

Students from both groups also were required to participate in an instant challenge in which they were given three-to-five minutes to solve a mystery problem for which they had not prepared.

All teams chose topics from five categories, including StranDID, On Holiday, It’s Your Move, Art of Improv and Dual DI-lemma.

“I am proud to support such an enthusiastic and ambitious group of students,” Sooter said. “UTD has sponsored a creative problem solving team since 1997, and each year the students prepare themselves above and beyond to prove they can solve any dilemma.”

One UTD team member, Nick Cowling, also helped coach Richardson’s Brentfield Elementary School. That team was the only one from the Dal-Rich region to advance to the Destination ImagiNation Global Finals tournament to be held in May.

At the conclusion of the competition, which was held April 5-7, a senior from Garland High School, Megan Malone, was awarded a full scholarship to UTD based on her participation in CPS activities during all four years of high school. Megan plans to major in pre-med at UTD. The scholarship, which was donated by UTD, was awarded by TXCPSO.

The wins in Houston mean that the two UTD teams will advance to the Destination ImagiNation Global Finals to be held in Knoxville, Tenn., May 22-26, where they will compete against 20 other collegiate teams.

The UTD team plans to showcase its two wins with an encore performance on campus later this month.

UTD’s 2002 teams are composed of freshmen Arron Brown of Fort Worth, Jessica Cassidy of Corpus Christi, Nicholas Cowling of Greenville, Jared Granberry of Alvin, Ben Lotzer of Dallas, Walter Voit of Mt. Pleasant, S.C., and Lesley Wilsker of Beaumont; junior Evan Fort of Houston; seniors Damon Armstrong and T.K. Armstrong of Carrollton, Judy Cook of Allen and Ted Skinner of Duncanville, and graduate student Veerdhawal Pande of India.

UTD has competed in regional, state and world competitions yearly since 1997. In 2001, UTD fielded one CPS team that placed second at Destination ImagiNation’s Global Finals Tournament.

UTD has no football team, but the university consistently shines in games of the mind. For the second year in a row, UTD’s chess team won the President’s Cup at the “Final Four” chess championship in April, and the debate team is ranked among the best college teams in the country.

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