Back row (left to right): Jabrel Alexander, Sean Skipton, Jockson Bilbrey, Braxton Dain Hayden Ukens, Steve Martin.Middle row (left to right): Cameron Branch, Jorge Rosas, Jeremy Norris, Stetson Elam, Gustavo Sanchez and Firas Ghazouani.Front row (left to right): Tanner Daniel, Lelin Liu, Melody Ethley, Madilyn Rider, Amanda Blanton, Kim Tuttle.

Apr 9, 2019

Panhandle State Communications

Programming Team Wins Two National Championships

Goodwell, Okla. – Oklahoma Panhandle State University’s Programming team traveled to Galveston Island, Texas this past weekend to compete with the best and brightest Information Technology (IT) students from across the country. The U.S. Information Technology Collegiate Conference (USITCC) was held April 4-6, and hosted approximately 360 conference attendees with 38 colleges and universities.

Panhandle State took sixteen students to compete in eight different competitions. To kick-off the competition on Thursday evening, three teams competed in Database Design and five teams competed in Microsoft Office Solutions. Friday afternoon, two teams competed in Business Analytics, two teams in Network Design, and three teams in Mobile Application Development. Friday evening, four teams competed in Systems Analysis & Design while nine individuals completed the PC Troubleshooting exam. Security was the last competition of the conference on Saturday morning and all sixteen students completed the Security exam. Both PC Troubleshooting and Security featured live leaderboards with knowledge based qualifying rounds. Sean Skipton advanced to the finals of PC Troubleshooting where the qualifiers are given one hour to repair a virtual machine and document the fixes. Tanner Daniel, Cameron Branch and Sean Skipton advanced to the finals for Security where it was capture the flag style competition showcasing their hands on security knowledge.

This year Panhandle State Programming team brought home TWO National Champion titles.

Panhandle State President Dr. Tim Faltyn said, “Congratulations to our Programming team and their accomplishments. We are so proud of our faculty and the exceptional leadership and mentoring they have provided to these superstar students.”

Both first time attendees Amanda Blanton and Gustavo Sanchez teamed up to take home first place in Microsoft Office Solutions out of 46 teams total.

Blanton says “Nationals was both more amazing and more difficult than I ever thought it would be. The competitions were very difficult, but I learned a lot from it because I had to figure out how to do a lot in a short amount of time. It was stressful. But even before the award ceremony, I felt really proud of myself for working as hard as I did. Neither of us ever expected to get first place, but I know we are so proud of ourselves and each other for the work we put into it. I’m so happy with the entire trip, and I can’t wait to compete again next year.”

Sanchez also commented on the trip saying “It was a great experience to travel with AITP and bonding with everyone on the trip. Also, winning on my first time at Nationals was exciting because the competitions were tough and you are up against all the top IT students in the U.S. It was a great accomplishment to showcase what OPSU students can achieve.”

Sean Skipton is no stranger to the annual national competition. In 2018, he earned his first national champion title in Application Development. Skipton finished seventh overall in Security earning an honorable mention. He also put his skills to the test in PC Troubleshooting to claim the National Championship.

Skipton comments on his successes “It was my second time going to USITCC and my second national championship victory. It is a fun experience and I am really proud of everyone who competed from our university. I hope that I have inspired students for future regional and national competitions to be able to take what they learn in the classroom and apply it to future achievements.”

Firas Ghazouani competed solo in Systems Analysis & Design and received recognition as an Honorable Mention. He speaks on the difficulties he faced during the competition, “When I saw my name on the board, I was shocked because I did more than 60 percent of the competition on scratch paper because I was running out of time. I had to take pictures of the papers, email them to myself then submit it all in a PDF document. I stayed until the last second and gave it my all. I am thankful that I was part of this fun group of students and advisors. I made many new friendships and memories with everyone.”

In addition to the competitions, students were able to attend a career fair on Friday morning putting their networking skills to work as well as attend breakout sessions through-out the conference. The keynote addressed a relevant topic of the importance soft skills in the IT industry which the CIS Department prides itself on actively assisting students with enhancing their soft skills during their entire academic career at Panhandle State.

Prior to competing all weekend, the students visited the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Many of the students were ecstatic about touring NASA, and learning about how much computer equipment is involved in their procedures. In their spare time, students got to enjoy the sandy beaches, and gulf shores of Galveston Island.

This competition brings Programming Teams National Championships up to nine total since 1998 in a variety of contests.

Advisor Kim Tuttle comments, “Panhandle State has students with superior intellect abilities. My favorite part of advising this group is providing opportunities for students to learn more about themselves and their abilities through competitive learning. The faculty on campus already know our students are the best. Competing against students from all across the nation and bringing home the gold builds confidence in our students and confirms that we as faculty are not lying to them about their abilities to do whatever they set their minds to.”

Congratulations to Panhandle State Programming Team for continuing to be a center of excellence at the university!

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