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Marriott information systems students sweep national competition

At the recent Association of Information Technology Professionals National Collegiate Conference in Dallas, all four competing Brigham Young University information systems teams earned top awards for their computer-programming and problem-solving skills.

The spring competition was the largest in the association’s history, with more than 500 students participating in 13 categories. BYU students placed in each category they entered , earning first place in three categories, third in three and honorable mention in one.

“We’ve always done well at the competition, but this year was better than ever,” says Conan Albrecht, assistant professor of information systems and one of the team’s advisers.

According to Albrecht, the wins are impressive because the BYU students were competing against others who had hands-on training with the programs. BYU students were taught theories and principles, which they used in the competition to learn the applications and make them work, generally in three hours or less.

Nathan Skousen, a junior in the program, agreed that the BYU preparation helped him and his partner, Matt Anderton, place first in the systems analysis and design competition.

“The competition helps us solidify what we are learning in school and to see its application outside of the classroom,” Skousen said.

Information systems students invited to attend the competition included Jason Case, Norman, Ind.; Jimmy Zimmerman, Sandy, Utah; Kent Broadbent, Champaign, Ill.; Matthew Anderton, Wenatchee, Wash.; Nathan Skousen, Rio Rancho, N.M.; Nicholas Barrett, Rochester, Minn.; Robert Turner, Lehi, Utah; and Stephen Todd, Fruit Heights, Utah.

BYU typically sends three teams to the competition, but this year a new graduate category was added, allowing BYU to send a fourth team. For the graduate competition, teams were presented with their case, given 15 minutes to look it over and ask questions,and then sent to their hotel rooms to start programming. The instructions were passed out at 9 p.m., and the final project was due the next day at 5 p.m.

“We brought food with us, and I stayed in my hotel room for 20 hours just programming,” says Turner, who placed first with his partner, Barrett, in the graduate competition.

After submitting their projects, the students returned to their rooms to sleep while the judges reviewed each entry. Turner says the combined 40 hours of programming paid off in a fully functional program.

“I loved it. I was surprised there weren’t as many people excited about programming for 20 hours as I was,” Turner said. “It was a lot of fun.”

Writer: Tyna-Minet Ernst

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