McKinney ISD

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MHS Coding Team Wins TSA National Championship

Press Release|
Shane Mauldin|
Monday, July 30, 2018

McKinney, Texas – When one considers the options for laid-back summertime activities, computer coding may not be the first thing that springs to mind. But, for three computer science students from McKinney High School, there was no better time than June to be hunkered down in front of a computer screen.

At the 2018 Technology Student Association (TSA) National Conference held June 22–26, that trio of MHS juniors—Azhan Khan, Saffat Ahmed and Leonard Humphrey—bested teams from across the country to claim the title of 2018 TSA National Coding Champions.

McKinney ISD has emerged as something of a coding powerhouse of late; 2018 marks the second year in a row that a team from MISD has won the TSA National Coding Championship. Furthermore, MHS has won the state title for the last two years with McKinney Boyd High School finishing second. Last year, Boyd leapfrogged the state champions from MHS at the national conference to win the 2017 national title.

This year, though, the team from MHS swept both the state and national competitions.

“It truly means a lot to us to finally win at the national level,” said MHS coding team member Azhan Khan. “We went to Nationals in Orlando last year for coding but were unable to secure a Finalist spot in the top 10 teams, so it was pretty exciting this year that our team not only cracked the top 10, but also came home from Atlanta with a pretty cool trophy.”

The 2018 Technology Student Association National Coding Champions from McKinney High School (l-r) Azhan Khan, Saffat Ahmed and Leonard Humphrey (Courtesy of MHS)

Approximately 8,000 middle and high school TSA members competing in 30 events converged on the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta for the 40th annual conference in June. Those numbers represented only the top competitors from among the organization’s more than 250,000 student members.

Competitors qualified for the national event by winning or placing second at their respective state competitions this spring, and McKinney ISD boasted an impressive contingent of 15 national qualifiers in various events at the high school level and five who qualified at the middle school level.

“The magnitude of our students’ achievements is incredible when you consider that only the best of the best from each state were represented at Nationals,” said Robert Gupton, MHS engineering teacher and faculty sponsor of the school’s TSA chapter.

Preparation for an event such as coding was a time-intensive pursuit, and success was the result of a great deal of hard work.

“Leonard, Saffat and I have been taking [Theresa] Horvath’s Computer Science classes since our freshman year, and we quickly took a liking to the contest programming problems we were introduced to in class,” Azhan said. “On most Saturdays throughout the school year, we take teams to different UIL contests at high schools around the metroplex and even go on annual trips to Houston to compete at Hewlett-Packard’s CodeWars competition. To prepare, our Computer Science Club members stay countless hours after school, working away at problem sets or studying up on efficient algorithms—all thanks to Mrs. Horvath’s super gracious patronage of the club.”

While every qualifier from MISD didn’t bring home a national championship, two other MHS teams and a Dowell Middle School student made very impressive showings by advancing to the national finals in their respective events, and another MHS team and a Dowell Middle School team made it to their respective Semifinal rounds:

National Finals
Technology Bowl: (8th Overall—MHS) Jakob Chow, Jacob Harsch and Cade Holdstock
Architecture and Design: (9th Overall—MHS) James Halderman, Allison Navejas and Ashley Perez
Dragster: (9th Overall—Dowell) Braxton Wade

National Semifinals
Software Design: (Top 12—MHS) Azhan Khan, Saffat Ahmed, Leonard Humphrey and Evan Varghese
Off the Grid Architecture Solution: (Top 12—Dowell) Jennifer Wang, Barbara Garza, Cailin Bell and Emily Alejandre

As for the champs, they’ll be seniors this year at MHS, and they’ve obviously cracked the code on what it takes to win. While they savor the current victory, they’re already looking ahead to 2019.

“I want to thank Mrs. Horvath for her support and enthusiasm for students’ endeavors into computer science, Mr. Gupton for his sponsorship of our TSA chapter at MHS and guidance going into the competition—and the parent chaperones for having the grit to put up with [a group of] angsty teenagers for the entirety of the trip,” Azhan said. “I’m very proud of my team, and am excited for the opportunities our senior year will bring.”

 

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