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With information technology firmly embedded in daily life, electric utilities like Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative depend heavily on computer equipment to help keep the lights on for their customers. Utilities also depend on technology experts who know how to create and maintain software programs that ensure that all computerized systems run efficiently. Encouraging the programmers of tomorrow is the goal of the Southern Maryland High School Computer Bowl, which marked its 25th anniversary last month at North Point High School in Waldorf.

This year’s Computer Bowl event featured almost 60 young computer experts in a test of their coding skills and technical knowledge, a press release states. 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.

Fifteen teams from seven high schools in Southern Maryland faced the literacy and programming tests in the Computer Bowl, according to the release. 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 Visual Basic. Charles County Public Schools equipped each team with two laptops for the programming portion of the competition.

Taking the top spot was Calvert County’s Huntingtown High School, with team members Gunnar Arnesen, Vince Kubala, Jason Merewitz and Joey Watts, coached by Tom Currier. In second place this year was Great Mills High School in St. Mary’s County with members Andrew Herbig, Matthew Mussomele, Nicholas Oliver and Bradley Post, coached by Nora Blasko. Patuxent High School took third place with team members Cameron Gorsack, Hart Herichsen and Gabe Smith, coached by Donna Herron. Another Great Mills High School team came in fourth place, with team members Nathaniel Bonner, Kevin DiCola and Kunal Kataria, also coached by Nora Blasko.

Winners received plaques and trophies. SMECO awarded gift cards to the top four teams. Booz Allen Hamilton awarded Samsung Galaxy tablets to the first-place team. The College of Southern Maryland also awarded the first-place winners with performance awards.

Booz Allen Hamilton employees Carrie Dalton, Patti Ferraer, Chad Kilgore, Laurie Lawrence, Jeffrey Rayfield, Douglas Sanborn and Frank Wolzein served as judges for the competition. Joe Burgin from the College of Southern Maryland and Catherine Wood of System Planning Corp. also served as judges. Lora Bennett and John Stine with Charles County Public Schools developed the literacy and programming tests used in the competition.