February 10, 2017

CARTERVILLE — It’s one of the biggest academic competitions held at John A. Logan College each year: The Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering (WYSE) Academic Challenge.

At stake are three tuition waivers for two years, including summer terms, awarded to the highest scoring junior or senior in each division. This year’s winners were Walter Shaw of Carbondale Community High School, Division 1500; Xander Goffinet of Carterville High School, Division 700; and Kara Bunselmeyer of Trico High School, Division 300.

The Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering (WYSE) Academic Challenge is a high school academic competition run by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. John A. Logan College began hosting this event under the name JETS (Junior Engineering Technical Society) in 1975. This competition later became known as WYSE.

This was the 43rd annual competition at John A. Logan College, and area high school students — who were chosen to compete by teachers at their respective schools — took two tests each from the areas of computer science, engineering graphics, mathematics, chemistry, English, physics, and biology. Difficult subjects, but the payoff for highest scores will save the winners thousands of dollars in tuition costs.

“The students who win this competition are certainly among the brightest students in Southern Illinois,” said Lora Hines, chair of business, computer science and mathematics, and a WYSE coordinator at John A. Logan College. “Each year, it is wonderful to watch so many amazing students compete in this academic challenge.”

The competition was divided into three divisions: Division 300 consisting of Crab Orchard High School and Trico High School; Division 700 consisting of Carterville High School, Du Quoin High School, Frankfort Community High School, Johnston City High School, and Murphysboro High School; and Division 1500 consisting of Carbondale Community High School, Herrin High School, and Marion High School.  First place team winners by division were Trico High School, Carterville High School, and Carbondale Community High School. These teams each received a plaque for their efforts.

Jennifer Jeter, associate professor of mathematics and WYSE test administrator coordinator, participated in the WYSE Academic Challenge 20 years ago as a junior at Marion High School. 

“As a high school student, I looked forward to preparing and competing in the WYSE Academic Challenge and felt honored to be chosen to participate in the challenge for three years,” Jeter said. “It allowed me to challenge myself academically in the areas of chemistry and mathematics.  Twenty years later, I look forward each year to proctoring the exam for current high school students.  It is definitely one of the highlights of my spring semester.”

Kathirave Giritharan is associate professor of mathematics and the WYSE event coordinator for John A. Logan College.

“The preparation for each year’s competition begins shortly after the completion of the previous year’s competition,” Giritharan said. “Hosting this event, which involves 10 area high schools and coaches, is not possible without the support of John A. Logan College administration, mathematics faculty, and other faculty members and staff, especially Adrienne-Barkley Giffin, director of Student Activities, who has been a tremendous help to make this event run smoothly each year.”

The students who placed first or second including ties in Logan’s Regional Competition will advance to Sectional Competition on March 15, 2017 at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. The winning teams and individual students will advance to the State Finals at the I-Hotel and Conference Center, Champaign, from April 17 – 20, 2017.  The Awards for both teams and individuals are given at all three levels; Regionals, Sectionals, and the State Finals. Each level of competition gets progressively harder, Giritharan explained.