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From Mainframe Computers to Modeling and Simulation, Great Computer Challenge has Grown Dramatically in 25 Years

The 25th annual Great Computer Challenge, with contests for students from kindergarten through 12th grade, is set for two dates this year - March 6 for grades 6-12, and May 1 for grades K-5 - in Old Dominion University's Webb Center.

The event represents a collaborative effort among ODU's Office of Computing and Communications Services (OCCS), WHRO public radio and the Consortium for Interactive Instruction (CII).

The Great Computer Challenge offers a competitive opportunity for students to demonstrate their skills in various computer applications and programming. It includes the following categories: Graphic Arts, Desktop Publishing, Music Composition, Desktop Presentations, Web Design, Internet Scavenger Hunt, Integrated Applications, Scientific/Non-Business Programming, Visual Basic, CAD, JAVA and Video Editing.

"This event is a fantastic opportunity for talented students in Hampton Roads to showcase their computer skills," said Doug Streit, manager of the Server Systems Group within OCCS. "I have a server engineer working in our group, and I know of at least one other professional working in OCCS, who once competed in the Great Computer Challenge. But the challenge appeals to more than just computer support or programming enthusiasts."

The Great Computer Challenge grew out of an annual programming contest that was started on the ODU campus in 1983. The first year of that contest, 20 teams of high school students used the university's mainframe computer, and did only programming tests.

The event has grown and evolved significantly since then, and now includes students as young as kindergarten-age, testing skills in graphic design, desktop publishing, video editing, Internet programming and more.

"Computers are ubiquitous. But the use of technology in arts, business, modeling and simulation and other 'nontechnical' disciplines is a compelling portion of this event, which continues to expand and change as technology is utilized in more areas of our lives," Streit said.

The competition also offers ODU an opportunity to showcase itself as a challenging school option for students with computer skills, he added.

For more information about the Great Computer Challenge, see the WHRO/CII Web site at http://www.whro.com/home/education/cii/professdevelop/studentactivites/greatcompchallenge/.

Interested participants, or those with questions, can contact the competition organizers at gcc@whro.org or 757-889-9365.

This article was posted on: February 19, 2010

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