BYU Info Systems Students Sweep National Competition

At the Association of Information Technology Professionals National Collegiate Conference, all four competing BYU information systems teams earned top awards for their computer programming and problem solving skills.

The March 30 to April 1 competition, held in Dallas, was the largest in AITP history with more than 500 students participating in 13 categories. BYU students placed in each category 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 are 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 the BYU preparation helped him and his partner, Matt Anderton, to 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 says.

Information systems students invited to attend the competition included Jason Case, from Norman, Ind.; Jimmy Zimmerman, from Sandy; Utah; Kent Broadbent, from Champaign, Ill.; Matt Anderton, from Wenatchee, Wash.; Nathan Skousen, from Rio Rancho, N.M.; Nick Barrett, from Rochester, Minn.; Robert Turner, from Lehi, Utah; and Stephen Todd, from 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, Nick 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 says. “It was a lot of fun.”

The Marriott School is located at Brigham Young University, the largest privately owned, church-sponsored university in the United States. The school has nationally recognized programs in accounting, business management, public management, information systems, organizational behavior and entrepreneurship. The school’s mission is to prepare men and women of faith, character and professional ability for positions of leadership throughout the world. Approximately 3,000 students are enrolled in the Marriott School’s graduate and undergraduate programs.

Listed below is a breakdown of the awards received:

1st place Graduate Competition: Robert Turner, Nick Barrett

1st place Systems Analysis and Design: Nathan Skousen, Matt Anderton

3rd place Systems Analysis and Design: Jimmy Zimmerman, Kent Broadbent

1st place Java: Kent Broadbent, Jason Case

3rd place Java: Jimmy Zimmerman, Stephen Todd

Honorable Mention Web Design: Matt Anderton, Stephen Todd

Passed ICCP Certification Exam: Kent Broadbent

Media Contact: Joseph Ogden (801) 422-8938
Writer: Tyna-Minet Ernst (801) 422-1512