SMECO Sponsors 24th Southern Maryland Computer Bowl

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SMECO Sponsors 24th Southern Maryland Computer Bowl


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By Southern Maryland Electric Co-op

La Plata High School took first place in the Southern Maryland High School Computer Bowl. Pictured from left are coach Richard Williams and team members Cody McGinnis, Alex Smith, and Thomas McGinnis.
La Plata High School took first place in the Southern Maryland High School Computer Bowl. Pictured from left are coach Richard Williams and team members Cody McGinnis, Alex Smith, and Thomas McGinnis.

More than 80 young computer experts tested their programming skills and technical knowledge during the 24th annual Southern Maryland High School Computer Bowl, held on March 2 at North Point High School in Waldorf. Sponsors for the Computer Bowl are Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative, the College of Southern Maryland, Booz Allen Hamilton, and the public school systems of Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s counties.

Twenty-three teams from nine high schools in Southern Maryland faced the challenging literacy and programming tests in the Computer Bowl. 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. Smart Technologies and CCS Presentation provided Smart Response pads for the literacy portion.

This year, a difference of only two points separated the first-place and second-place teams. Taking the top spot was Charles County’s La Plata High School with members Cody McGinnis, Thomas McGinnis, and Alex Smith, coached by Richard Williams. In second place was Calvert County’s Huntingtown High School with team members Gunnar Arnesen, Vince Kubala, Jason Merewitz, and Joey Watts, coached by Tom Currier. Great Mills High School in St. Mary’s County won third place with team members Nancy Bolton, Jonathan DuBose, Andrew Herbig, and Noah Wichrowski, coached by Nora Blasko. In fourth place was Patuxent High School from Calvert County with members Craig Gantt, Cameron Gorsak, Trey Henrichsen, and Gabe Smith, coached by Blaine Mably.

Winners received plaques and trophies. SMECO awarded gift cards to the top four teams, and the second-place team also received gift cards from the Charles County Technology Council. Booz Allen Hamilton awarded Kindle Fire tablets to the first-place team. The College of Southern Maryland also awarded the four first-place winners with $500 scholarships.

SMECO spokesperson Tom Dennison stated, "We are honored to have sponsored the Computer Bowl for 24 years, and it is very rewarding to see the top technology experts from our local schools challenge each other to do their best. Electric utilities depend more and more on information technology to help keep the lights on for their customers. The Computer Bowl highlights computer skills, which are valuable not only for students' careers, but also important for SMECO's future. "

Booz Allen Hamilton employees Alan Cooper, Carrie Dalton, Sharon Essick, Mike Hammett, Frank Wolzein, and Tammy Wright served as judges for the competition. Joe Burgin from the College of Southern Maryland and Catherine Wood of System Planning Corporation also served as judges. Lora Bennett and John Stine from Charles County Public Schools assisted with judging.

SMECO is a customer-owned electric cooperative providing electricity to more than 152,000 services in Charles County, St. Mary’s County, southern Prince George’s County, and all but the northeast portion of Calvert County.  Co-ops are distinctly different from investor-owned utilities because co-ops are owned by their customers, and customer-members elect the men and women who serve on the Board of Directors. 

Co-ops also issue capital credits to their customer-members.  What are capital credits?  They are the member’s share of the co-op’s margins, based on how much electricity the member purchased and the rate at which the account was billed.  SMECO’s margins—revenue less expenses—are used as working capital for new construction and system improvements.  When SMECO’s Board of Directors determines that a percentage of the capital credits can be distributed to members through a general refund, capital credits will be issued by check or credited to members’ electric bills.

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