Sunday, June 29, 2008

FBLA-PBL judging this weekend

I did something different this weekend. I was a judge in the finals for the FBLA-PBL Internet Application Programming contest.

If you don't know what the FBLA-PBL is, check out their website here. The group I was judging were juniors and seniors in high school who developed a web application for recording grades and calculating GPA. The finalists were from all over the country. While this was one session, there were dozens of other with presentations about all kinds of business topics, not just technology.

I was judging the presentation they gave about what they developed vs. judging how what they developed met the requirements. It was very interesting and informative to see how these young men approached presenting about what they built. One frustrating thing: there were no young women in the finals. According to our coach/leader there were some ladies in the other rounds, just none made it to the finals.

Some interesting things about their projects:
- 6 of the 10 used PHP
- all but two talked about AJAX, but when asked about which tools they used half couldn't tell me
- 8 of the 10 use MySQL
- 2 used the full Microsoft stack, with, C# and SQL Server
- one used Perl
- one used the Google applications for his presentation. All but one other used PowerPoint
- three talked about 'third normal form' in their databases
- one displayed a UML diagram

The presentation styles were as varied as the men themselves. A couple just stood there, hands in pockets or crossed in front of them, a few read directly from the slides, but most of them were moving around, pointing to the slides etc. Most came up and shook our hands.

All were able to answer my technical questions very well (other than the AJAX toolkit part)

I brought Meghan with me and she thought it was interesting, but got boring because the topics were the same. She had some interesting insight into what they were focusing on and how each presented the same materials in different ways.

If you ever get a chance to judge or assist a student with one of these projects I suggest you do it.

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