Computer science team seeks more success in UIL


Trinity Curl

Junior Noah Harrison speaks to the Computer Science UIL team during a club meeting. Harrison is one of the leaders of the team along with junior Nicholas Zolton, who started the club.

Trinity Curl, Business Editor

UIL teams on campus range from sports to academics. One group that has been achieving success and flying under the radar is the computer science UIL team.

   “We have people that have never touched programming, we have people who never touched the programming language, we have a mixture of everyone,” said junior Nicholas Zolton, co-leader of the computer science UIL team. “Seriously, anyone can come to it and just sit down and learn.”

The computer science UIL team has been around for more than five years and was founded by former student, Brendon Newman. Newman founded the team to compete in programming competitions with his friends. The team expanded from there.

   “It gave us a reason to hang out,” Zolton said. “It’s always been fun to do with friends.”

   Computer science is in essence programming and UIL is the competition in which student programmers compete. The competition is sorted in two parts: a 40-50 question test and a two-hour hands-on problem solving portion.

“[Students] are asked specific questions on how computers work and the JAVA language, then there’s a hands-on portion where they give you real world problems and you have to write the code for a solution to those problems,” said computer science teacher and sponsor Tonya Smith.   

  Not only does computer science UIL prepare students for the UIL competitions, it also helps students with the computer science AP test.

   “Being in the club does help you with [the computer science AP test], since the UIL competitions are generally more rigorous than the computer science course is taught here,” said junior Noah Harrison, co-leader of the UIL team.

   Before the competition season, students learn everything about each programming concept and take practice tests. Zolton co-leads the team with Harrison. Both teach the concepts, create the practice tests and prepare the team for competition.

   “I help organize the events and technology, so what computers we use and the software on them,” said Zolton. “I made the curriculum for this.”

  Last year, the team made it to regionals. Computer science is generally the last event to compete. Students spend the majority of the day studying, practicing and getting to know other programmers.

   “Last year some of the upperclassmen brought (Nintendo) Switches and had our own little tournaments going,” Zolton said. “We’d get people from other schools coming over, so we made some friends.”

    The further teams go in the UIL competitions, the more exposure students get to companies that could eventually become their future employers. The students on the team that win the state title have the possibility to also get full-ride scholarships.

   “It’s really funny, it never seems like this to me, but supposedly they really need STEM people,” Zolton said, “especially computer science, so everyone that’s really good at what they do in it, go quickly.”

   Student programmers don’t only learn about computer science concepts, they also learn how to communicate and collaborate with others.

   “Sometimes you don’t get that experience in the classroom as much, but outside of the classroom, when [students] have these problems that they have to solve together, being able to communicate and collaborate is a must,” Smith said.

   For the upcoming season, Zolton and Harrison have high hopes for the team.

   “I hope we can definitely replicate our results from this past year or surpass them,” Zolton said. “Definitely surpass them, actually.”