Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO) marked 30 years of supporting technical education by sponsoring its annual Southern Maryland High School Computer Bowl on March 2.
The competition underscores the importance of computer skills for students who plan to become proficient in technical and industrial fields. With information technology firmly embedded in daily life, electric utilities like SMECO depend heavily on computerization to help keep the lights on for their customers. The experience of competing in the Computer Bowl can help prepare students for careers such as software development and cybersecurity.
This year’s Computer Bowl, held at North Point High School in Charles County, featured 80 young computer experts in a test of their coding skills and technical knowledge. Sponsors for the annual competition are SMECO, the College of Southern Maryland, Booz Allen Hamilton, and the public school systems of Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s counties.
Twenty teams from 10 high schools in Southern Maryland faced the challenging literacy and programming tests in the Computer Bowl. In the first round of the competition, students took a written test of their knowledge of computer history, hardware, and software. In the second round, teams of three to four students created computer programs to solve specific problems, using programming languages such as Java and Python.
The technology used in the Computer Bowl has evolved dramatically since the first event in 1990. SMECO hosted the bowl that year, offering large, terminal-type computers for the programming portion of the competition. Organizers loaded the problems onto the machines from floppy disks. For the 2019 competition, Charles County Public Schools equipped each team with two laptops along with modern software for writing code.
A team from Huntingtown High School in Calvert County won first place this year, with members Brayden Archer, Ethan Hilton, Quintin Hilton, and Nick Matthews coached by Tom Currier. Great Mills High School in St. Mary’s County won second place, with Nora Blasko coaching Zoe Coughlan, Finnegan O’Neill, Sam Wilson, and Nicholas Zhou. The host school, North Point High School, had a team place third; Melody Stahl coached Caleb Griffith, Erik Henson, Matteo Marchi, and Christian Parrales. In fourth place was another team from Huntingtown High, made up of Arin Crow, Kenny Cullum, Evan Fee, and Margaret Foulkes.
Winners received plaques and trophies, and SMECO awarded gift cards to the top four teams. The College of Southern Maryland also provided the first-place winners with performance awards.
Booz Allen Hamilton employees Janet Bondelid, Amanda Foxton, Shannon Katulich, Stephen Katulich, Jr., Nathan McClain, Christopher Mucciolo, Douglas Sanborn, and Teresa Sukhram served as judges for the competition, along with Joe Burgin from the College of Southern Maryland and Casey Cooke from SMECO. Lora Bennett and John Stine with Charles County Public Schools developed the literacy and programming tests used in the competition.