Saturday, August 15, 2009

Students from Southern Minnesota Win Third Straight National High School Computer Competition

High school students trained by IT professionals in our BDPA Southern Minnesota chapter won the national high school computer competition (HSCC) held in Raliegh NC earlier this month. The Rochester, MN chapter is no stranger to this competition, having won three national HSCC championships in a row.

Their victory in 2009 was hard-fought. The team competed against 22 other teams from much larger cities across the nation including Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit and New York. The Southern Minnesota team, now having won the last four out of the five years, ranged in age from 14-18 and included students throughout the Rochester area school district.

This year's championship team included (L-R): Adwait Walimbe, Daniel Sheppard, Yaa Kwansa, James Arama and Ahmed Mahamad. These students earned their spot on the local competition team by obtaining the top 5 scores among nearly 50 students from the local area who completed the rigorous seven-month Youth Computer Training Program/High School Computer Science Course sponsored by ISD 535 and BDPA. Those students who fulfilled their High School Computer Science Course requirements will also receive High School Computer Science credit from ISD 535. This training program/computer course is totally organized and operated by volunteers.

The National BDPA HSCC Championships spanned 2 full days, including an oral and written round and followed by a 7-hour programming project. This year's project, which the teams had no advance knowledge of, required the students to write a web based application allowing potential investors to fill out a form to invest in a venture company and immediately determine potential return of investment, using programming languages such as Java, ASP, PHP, .NET in conjunction with MySQL, HTML and CSS. The Southern Minnesota team completed the programming project with the highest overall score ... which was 10% higher than the 2nd place team. Each student from the winning team received a $2,500 Jesse Bemley Scholarship from the BDPA Education & Technology Foundation (BETF) plus an additional $250 from the Southern Minnesota Chapter.

BDPA Southern Minnesota is a non-profit organization that started in 1999. The organization offers professionals, executives, entrepreneurs and students a pathway from the classroom to the boardroom through education, mentoring, business networking and services that enhance innovation, technical skills, business savvy and personal growth.

All of Rochester MN is invited to celebrate the championship team, other students in the Youth Computer Training Program and area high schools & college BDPA Southern MN Scholarship recipients on Sunday, August 16, 2009 at the Doubletree Ballroom, University Hall at 5:30pm. The keynote speaker will be Corey Bell of TriFusion Technologies. Dinner tickets are $25 for students and $45 for adults.

Thanks to all of partners and supporters for making this a reality. Special thanks to Mayo Clinic, Rochester ISD 535, IBM, Zack Garbow: Technical Director, Jongy Calvert: Administrator Director, BDPA Board of Directors, and the many volunteers/instructors, including: Toni Adafin, Brian Brownlow, Nat Calvert, Emily Dirks, Eltayeb Elzain, Sophia Farr, David Fowler, Vi Johnson, Chris Kundinger, Osman Omer, Marshall Sheppard and Ray Ventura.

BETF is very proud of these students and this chapter. They have demonstrated the power of planning and hard work. Our foundation has provided more scholarship dollars to BDPA Southern Minnesota students than any other chapter's students in our history. I wonder if other chapters will close the gap in next year's competition?

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