Abilene's new tech high wins fourth in ACU's Programming Challenge

Posted February 25, 2010

 For three years, high school students have gained experience in the highly competitive field of computer programming at The Lifeline Challenge, a computing contest hosted by Abilene Christian University's School of Information Technology and Computing.

This year, a newly built high school in Abilene, The Academy of Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Science, competed for the first time. The Abilene team placed fourth, competing against 10 other Texas schools.

The Challenge gives an opportunity for high school students to take their knowledge of computer programming and apply it in a fun and competitive environment. The "lifeline" factor provides high school computer science teachers a chance to participate in "teachable moments" during the three-hour time limit. Rather than flying solo for the duration of the contest, each team may use up to three "lifelines" – 10-minute timeout sessions with their coach.

"This break is a valuable time for students and teachers, because applying technological concepts during a time constraint is more effective than learning concepts sitting in the classroom," says Raymond Pettit, adjunct professor of computer science at ACU.

"We were really delighted to see an Abilene school finally compete and surprised when they did so well in a competitive match with 10 other teams who have experienced The Challenge in previous years," said Pettit."We wanted every team to feel some level of success and not be intimidated by those who have been participating the last several years."

The third annual Challenge took place, Feb. 20 in the Mabee Business Building atrium. Other competing high schools were from the Lubbock and Dallas/Fort Worth area.

To learn more about The Challenge, visit ACU's SITC Web site.