When it comes to computer network design, University of Wisconsin-Stout can’t be beat.
For the fifth straight year, university students have brought home the title — and a runner-up award — in the national competition, the U.S. Information Technology Collegiate Conference held recently in San Antonio.
This year they added another first place, in PC troubleshooting.
The team of Tyler Elwood and Jack Moore took first in computer network design, with fellow UW-Stout students Stephen Felton and Pierce Lannue taking second out of 30 teams from around the U.S.
Students had four hours to design an automated private cloud data center for an online college.
“The opportunity to go to this event was amazing. We prepped so much prior to the event that it made it a lot smoother,” said Elwood, citing his classes and support from professors.
Elwood, of Lublin in Taylor County, is an information and communication technologies major while Moore, of Greenville; Felton, of Richland Center; and Lannue, of Chippewa Falls, are majoring in computer networking and information technology.
In addition to winning the network design challenge five straight years, 2014 through 2018, UW-Stout won in 2007 and 2012. Students also took second four of those years.
In the PC trouble shooting competition, Lannue took the title with Felton second among 80 competitors. After a 100-question test, the field was narrowed to 10 people for the final challenge — fixing a troubled computer while being timed.
Along with the first and second places for UW-Stout, Lannue and Felton made the top 10 in the system security competition out of more than 80 contestants.
Students cite preparation, classes
Felton said classwork “provides all students with industry-relevant knowledge that is required to excel in these competitions” while Elwood commented that “the professors help us succeed and get ready for the industry.”
UW-Stout students take a network design class as part of their major. They do case studies for two to three weeks with teams of five or six people. A competition on campus, with a four-hour timeline like the USITCC event, was held to determine which students would get to compete nationally.
Felton also credited his computer support and troubleshooting jobs going back to high school and at UW-Richland Center. “PC troubleshooting is something that just comes naturally to IT students over time,” he said. “Pierce and I were able to place first and second in this competition without even studying.”
In addition to their training at UW-Stout, students have benefited from internships and jobs in the IT industry that “add practical experience on top of that knowledge,” Felton said.
Moore said the competition has “helped give me an edge when job-hunting and really increased my confidence and sense of self-value when talking to employers.” He was asked for his resume in San Antonio by an IBM employee, and he recently had a job interview during which the company acknowledged his success in the competition.
Lannue has a full-time job waiting for him at Heartland Business Systems in Eau Claire, where he had two co-op experiences. His future co-workers sent congratulatory text messages and emails after his success in San Antonio. “This was an excellent way to end my senior year at UW-Stout, and I could not be happier,” he said.
Associate Professor Holly Yuan, CNIT, and instructor Evan Sveum, ICT, are the program directors and students’ advisers.
“Our success in the competition is a result of great collaboration between our programs and industry partners for all these years. We have guest reviewers from Cisco, Target, CDW and many other companies to read and comment on students’ case study proposals. Their continuous support and contributions are a big reason why our programs and students are strong,” Yuan said.
The competition until this year was known as the Association of Information Technology Professionals National Collegiate Conference.
From left, UW-Stout students Jack Moore, Tyler Elwood, Pierce Lannue and Stephen Felton hold awards they earned at the national collegiate information technology competition in San Antonio.
Pierce Lannue, left, and Stephen Felton work in the computer networking lab in UW-Stout’s Fryklund Hall. In a national competition, they took second as a team in computer network design. In PC troubleshooting, Lannue took first and Felton second.