FHS wins big at 2019 STEM Challenge at UHCL

On Saturday, April 6, Friendswood High School had 16 computer science students compete in the 2019 STEM Challenge at the University of Houston Clear Lake. The team competed against nearly 40 other teams, including teams from local community colleges and UHCL. FHS won many of the top awards offered.

The STEM Challenge is funded through the National Science Foundation and put on by the UHCL Computer Science and Computer Information Systems departments. It is a competition where teams of four opt to compete in one of two tracts: the programming track or the science track. In both tracks, students are given 50 minutes to solve various problems, questions and brainteasers. Next, students compete in either the software design competition or the science competition.

The last contest was over engineering. The teams were given all types of material to construct a boat that could float in a tub of water while holding up to eight marbles without sinking for 30 seconds. In addition, the teams had to create some type of propeller to propel the boat forward. The boats were judged on their capabilities in both areas of the engineering-design categories.

Winners were as follows:

The Programming Design Challenge was won by Jake Halaska, Shammo Biswas, Noah Kester and Ryan Wolf. They won an Amazon Dot and each received a $500 scholarship to UHCL.

The Logic and Analysis Challenge was won by Nick Ess, Cristian Alvarez-Hernandez, Austin Pitts and Andrew Zehrer. They also won an Amazon Dot and each received a $500 scholarship to UHCL.

Last, the all-girls group of Minh Vo, Shannon McGill, Christine Chacko and Emily Yiu were the overall winners of the science track. They won an Amazon Dot, an Amazon Fire Stick and each received a $1000 scholarship to UHCL.

Also, while students worked through each challenge, two industry recruiters walked through the various rooms and watched for students who were leaders, problem solvers and team players in order to offer them summer internships. Sophomore Yujiang (William) Chen was offered an internship at the Alink Security Group, and McGill, Chacko and Yiu all have an opportunity to interview for an internship with Tektronix.

“I am proud of all their efforts and their ability to step up to the plate and shine,” Annette Walter, FHS computer science teacher, said. “My hat goes off to my fellow STEM Science/Math teachers at FHS since they prepared these students well for the challenges they had to face.”

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