Central Tech computer students vie for MNE scholarships

When can you take a test, not have to study, not have it count as a grade, and win $10,000?

Central Tech junior Jacob Kunstmann did exactly that. He was one of seven Central juniors and seniors who participated in a computer competition at Mercyhurst North East (MNE) on May 21. The students took a test designed to assess their mastery of computer skills and, as the leading scorer, Kunstmann won a $5,000-a-year scholarship ($10,000 for two years) if he elects to enroll in MNE’s Computer Systems Support Program upon graduation from Central.

In fact, all of the participants received monetary awards to apply toward tuition at MNE and pursue an education in the information technology field. The scholarships are annual allotments for a total of two years. Matthew Dilimone took second place and a $4,000 per year scholarship; Breanna Heineman came in third for a $3,000 annual scholarship. Other participants received awards of $1,500 a year. They are Russell Lockwood, Nicholas Figueroa, Jorge Luiggi and Julian Moore.

The contest was organized by Scott McAuley, chair of MNE’s Department of Business, Math and Computers, and Stephen Kanicki, instructor of computer science and business. The test itself was devised by MNE and Central faculty.

McAuley said MNE’s associate-degree computer program is specifically designed to prepare students for immediate careers as computer resource personnel, working in software applications, networking hardware and Web site development. Graduates also have the choice of continuing their education toward a bachelor’s degree, he noted.

“Eighty-two percent of our students are two- or four-year college-bound and we work with Mercyhurst North East and other colleges to make sure what we teach prepares them for college,” said Mike Beiter, chair of Central’s Computer Systems Department. “This competition gave us the opportunity to expose our students to Mercyhurst North East, where we think many of them would benefit from a two-plus-two program (two years at MNE to earn an associate degree; two years on the Mercyhurst Erie campus or elsewhere for a bachelor’s degree).”
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