Schroeder and Tiemon were among the 500 students from 34 high schools who recently took part in this year’s TechOlympics, the largest IT competition and expo for high school students in the area.
Thirty-five students from each high school attended the conference with several students helping to plan and run the event, which was held at the Millennium Hotel in downtown Cincinnati.
The three-day expo also allowed students to learn and hone their skills for potential careers.
TechOlympics is sponsored each year by the INTERalliance of Greater Cincinnati, whose mission is to engineer and execute experiences designed to inspire young talent to pursue a career in the IT industry in Greater Cincinnati.
Besides lectures by industry leaders, breakout sessions on tech topics and one-on-one “IT&U” sessions, the conference also offered different levels of competition based on difficulty. Students earn points for scoring anywhere between first and fifth place.
Many competed in a variety of IT challenges, with Lakota East stringing together not only Schroeder and Tiemon’s first-place finishes, but also multiple second- and third- place individual and team awards. The victories helped the school earn the first-place trophy for the third straight year.
Schroeder won his first-place award for Mystery Coding, where students don’t know what realm the problem might be in or what language they might be using.
“It’s all kind of up in the air,” said Dave McKain, Lakota East teacher and INTERalliance coach. “In the time given, Zach was able to solve the most challenges correctly.”
McKain said Schroeder is a “top tier” computer science student who excels at problem solving and writing code.
“He had an internship last year at the Kroger data center in Blue Ash, so he wrote code for them over the summer,” McKain said. “As a high school student, to get to do something like that for a summer job is just pretty amazing.”
Tiemon won first place in a new competition, Microsoft Touch Development, which gives students a certain amount of time to see how many different components they can get to work using a recently developed scripting language used for tablets and touch-screen computers.
McKain said the competition was well-suited to Tiemon’s way of thinking.
“It fit his strengths,” he said.
Tiemon said he started taking computer science his junior year at Lakota East because he needed classes to fill his schedule, but admitted he had no idea what he was getting into.
“It was a challenging class that I really liked because I feel like in school I’m not challenged as much as I should be,” Tiemon said. “There’s a lot of problem solving, … it wasn’t a typical ‘find X’ that we did in calculus, it was like ‘find certain steps that you need to do to get to the answer’ and that really intrigued me because it was pushing my limits.”
McKain said the INTERalliance program has been “a tremendous boon” by connecting talented students while they’re still in high school to businesses and corporations in the Greater Cincinnati area.
“There have been a number of leaders who have been visionary enough to recognize that if you want to connect with this talent you need to make that connection while they’re still in high school, because once they go off to college then the amount of competition that they’re going up against is pretty huge,” McKain said. “By making these connections early on they’re able to keep these students around here locally, and they’re discovery that’s a big deal for them.”