Shaler Area grad wins national computer programming contest
Shaler resident David Berdik placed first in a Phi Beta Lambda National Leadership Conference competition.
The Duquesne University computer science major competed against 27 people in the programming concepts category in June in Anaheim, Calif.
He qualified for nationals after placing first in a state competition.
Both contests required completing hour-long, 100-question exams focusing on programming development concepts and languages, databases, network operating systems and more.
Several weeks passed in between when Berdik, 19, took the state exam at Duquesne and when he learned he qualified for nationals.
“It was an unexpected surprise because I was so busy with other things at the time that I really didn't have too much time to put into preparing for the state level exam as much as I wanted to.”
Berdik said that he was “on edge” about the national exam the first day of the conference.
“The first day in California was actually really, really difficult for me because my roommate and I, we both had our competitions on day two. We're in California, we want to be outside because it's nice and bright and sunny. But we sat in our hotel rooms all day and we prepared for our events.”
In between finishing the exam and learning that he had won a trophy and $700, Berdik occupied himself by attending PBL's career workshops and lounging by the hotel pool.
He had prior familiarity with the PBL conference from placing first in the desktop application programming category at the 2015 Future Business Leaders of America National Leadership Conference: The FBLA is the high school division of the career student organization.
For the FBLA competition, he designed a computer program that could serve as an animal shelter inventory tracker, monitoring the costs to care for incoming and existing shelter residents. He discussed his program during a 10-minute presentation at the conference.
Berdik credits Lisa Klugh, a Shaler Area High School business education teacher and FBLA chapter adviser, with his involvement in the organization.
As a high school student, he initially turned down the opportunity to join FBLA.
“David is a very bright person, and he's extremely motivated when it comes to computers and programming,” Klugh said. “Having taken all of my computer and business courses, I felt the experience would be beneficial for him in high school to meet new people and compete against students who also had a passion like his.”
“She had asked me to do it so many times, and I just said, ‘All right I'll give this a try.' And it ended up working out, and it turned out I really liked it,” Berdik said.
Shaler Area's FBLA chapter fundraises so its members may attend competitions, provides community service and possible scholarship opportunities and offers career workshops and networking events, Klugh said.
Berdik said that without Klugh introducing him to the FBLA, he probably would not have discovered Duquesne's PBL chapter because a college outside of his major sponsors it.
In addition to participating in PBL, Berdik runs The Programmer's World website and volunteers at Humane Animal Rescue.
“There is nothing as wonderful as watching your students leave high school and succeed. David has left his mark on our organization, and I'm sure will continue to succeed in whatever path he chooses in life,” Klugh said.
Erica Cebzanov is a Tribune-Review contributor.