Computer Science Academy programming competitions

Emily Selgelid, reporter

The Computer Science Academy, directed by Andrew Meile and Tim Shipley, is one Olathe South’s three 21st Century programs. The idea of working with computers and figuring out programming seems daunting to most students, but it isn’t quite so vague.

According to Meile, “They focus on problem solving skills primarily through computational thinking. So, it’s not necessarily just programming as a lot of people think. It’s more of having a problem and the thought process that goes behind solving that problem or coming to a solution.”

Similar to any school sports team, the Computer Science Academy has many competitions in which they compete to show their skills and earn rankings.

“We have a couple different competitions,” says Meile, “We have one that’s called Cyber Patriot where our students compete with students from not only the state, but around the nation and around the world as well. We also have a couple different K-State and KU programming competitions where we compete against primarily different high schools from the state of Kansas and the state of Missouri.”

To prepare for these competitions, they have after school practice rounds where they hone their skills for the real deal. Soon, they will attend competitions in the area where they will showcase the abilities they’ve been practicing.

“We have the K-State and KU programming competitions coming up soon. The KU one is towards the end of October and the K-State one is actually at the start of November.”

Olathe South’s Computer Science Academy is heavily involved in many competitions, but how do they compete in them?

“With Cyber Patriot, we have made it to the state round the last two years. We have not qualified for the national tournament yet,” explained Meile, “The KU competition we won four out of the last five years so we’ve done very well in that competition. The K-State competition is a new competition, so we have not gone to that yet.”

Soon to graduate, senior Caleb Bassham is working an internment with Cerner, a health technology supplier based in North Kansas City, Missouri.

Meile added, “All of our seniors have a very bright future in the different areas that they’re interested in. It’s important to have students in this academy because there’s so many job opportunities. If you have a degree in computer science from a university you’re not gonna struggle to find a job. More and more things are becoming computer related or driven, so they’re always going to need programmers, software developers, and data operators—things like that.”

Technology always comes with faults and errors, and it takes a special type of training to understand the thought process behind correcting them.

As Meile said, “We’re not programmers, we’re problem solvers.”