Brigham Young University information systems students stole the show with their technology and problem-solving abilities during a recent competition at the Association of Information Technology Professionals National Collegiate Conference in Detroit.
Faced with competition from more than 60 other schools, some with 20 or more entrants, the six BYU students left with eight competition awards, more than any other school. The two-person teams received first place, second place and an honorable mention in the Microsoft Office solutions competition; third place and an honorable mention in the business intelligence competition; third place and an honorable mention in systems analysis and design; and an honorable mention in PC troubleshooting.
“They were able to pick up the technology, make intelligent decisions and come up with a winning solution,” said Conan Albrecht, an associate professor of information systems who accompanied the students. Albrecht attributes their success to the quality of the program’s students and the rigorous junior core.
Information systems students who competed were Daniel Beutler, a junior from Orem, Utah; Scott Gillins, a junior from Renton, Wash.; Craig Marshall, a junior from Colfax, N.C.; Trent Nelson, a junior from Salt Lake City; Jeff Jenkins, a junior from Rigby, Idaho; and Fernando Mladineo, a graduate student from Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.
In one contest, participants were asked to integrate information throughout the Microsoft Office suite. They were given a set of business data to interpret and present using Excel, Access, Word and PowerPoint. The files were required to be linked so changes in the data set within one file would affect the other files. Within the first 10 minutes of competition, half of the teams dropped out, unable to see a solution. The three BYU teams continued and received first place, second place and an honorable mention.
Students agreed that endurance and problem-solving ability had the greatest influence on their success. “We had a solution for every one of our competitions,” Jenkins said. “When other teams dropped out because they didn’t know the answers, we made up the solutions as we went along.”
Since each of the students entered five contests, they struggled to keep enough energy through the end of competition. One day involved 13 hours of competition for some of the contestants, who spent a combined 20 hours in competitions Thursday afternoon through Saturday morning.
“They were professional in how they represented BYU,” Albrecht said. “They worked all day, and they were worn out, but they did well.”
Writer: David Garcia