By MEG BARONE
Connecticut Post 04/30/04
FAIRFIELD - For geography buffs, Java is an island in Indonesia;
to computer science whiz kids, it's a computer language.
About 120 of the state's brightest high school students were tested Thursday on their knowledge of Java - the computer programming language - at the 11th annual GE Connecticut High School Computer Science Contest.
The 90-minute written test, held at GE Corporate Headquarters, challenged students to use their programming and problem-solving skills and their ability to carefully conduct analysis of technical areas.
Amity Regional High School in Woodbridge placed first in the state, and two of its students - Tony Zhang and Nathan Perelman - tied for first in individual competition.
The team from Central High School in Bridgeport placed fourth. "It was an enormous 50-question, multiple-choice test that dealt with cumulative knowledge of Java," said Mike Bifulco, 17, a first-time competitor from Shelton High School.
"It was challenging. The questions really made you think about the Java language and how to solve problems," said Andrew Smith, 17, of Fairfield High School, who was competing for the second time.
Jack Nilan, a teacher at Central and the competition's originator; said it highlights the accomplishments of students who perform well academically but rarely get the spotlight.
Leang Chaing, 15, of Bridgeport, a Central student, said the competition is great practice for next week's Advanced Placement test, and that placing in the top 20 will look good on his college applications.
The top 20 students received two free computer courses at Fairfield University, where mathematics and computer science professors developed the test.
Armin Hamidovic, 17, another Central student, has benefited from performing well in three previous competitions, taking numerous computer courses.
"Next year when I go to Fairfield University I will be taking junior-level computer courses because I've already completed the first two years of required courses as a result of my accomplishment at the GE competition," said Hamidovic, who placed 8th overall.
Charles Kessler, 16, also a Central student, who placed in the top 20, said preparing for the GE competition "expands your knowledge of computers and computer programming, and it makes you more versatile in the corporate environment."