Engineering at Illinois to host WYSE Academic Challenge State Finals April 17-20

Mike Koon, Marketing and Communications Coordinator

Hinsdale Central repeated as champions of the Unlimited Division in 2016.
Hinsdale Central repeated as champions of the Unlimited Division in 2016.
Over 1,500 high school students from 228 schools cross Illinois will descend on Champaign next week for the state finals of the Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering (WYSE) Academic Challenge. Students and teams have been competing at regional and sectional competition throughout the past two months and the top performers at those competitions have advanced to the state finals, which will be held April 17-20 at the I-Hotel and Conference Center.

Academic Challenge is a high school academic competition run in Illinois and Missouri hosted by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Missouri University of Science and Technology, respectively. Academic Challenge actually started out as Illinois JETS in the 1960s, and then became Academic Challenge in 1996.

The College of Engineering at the University of Illinois grants a $2,000 and $1,000 scholarship to individual first-place and second-place winners, respectively, in each STEM subject to be used by students who will major in an engineering field at Illinois.

Students compete in 14-member varsity teams or as individual at-large competitors. Each student takes two exams. There are seven subject areas from which each student chooses their two tests -- biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering graphics, English, mathematics and physics. The materials for tests are drawn from senior high school and freshman level college curricula and are written by teams of college and university faculty. Each test production team produces three tests of increasing levels of difficulty for the regional, sectional and state finals.

At the state finals level, the top-five scoring teams in each division will be awarded first through fifth place trophies, whereas any at-large competitors and/or any individual members of teams who attain the highest through the sixth-highest scores in the subject in each division will receive a first place through sixth place medallion, respectively.

Schools competing in the Academic Challenge Competition are divided into four divisions based on enrollment. Schools with enrollments larger than 1,500 students (Unlimited) will compete on Monday; schools from 701-1,500 students (Division 1500) compete on Tuesday; schools with 301-700 students (Division 700) compete on Wednesday; and schools with enrollments of 300 or fewer (Division 300) compete on Thursday. The tests are the same in each division.

Last year’s team champions were Hinsdale Central (Unlimited), Fenwick (1500 Division), Normal University High School (700 Division Unboundaried), Maroa-Forsyth (700 Division Boundaried), Urbana University High School (300 Division Unboundaried), Gallatin County (300 Division Boundaried).

The goal of Academic Challenge is to acquaint high school students with the course content and level of competition that they will experience upon entering a science or engineering curriculum at the college or university level. Consequently, the test content will challenge the brightest students.

The 89 schools that qualified for the team competition:

Unlimited (competing Monday) -- 16

Barrington, Belleville West, Bradley-Bourbonnais, Collinsville, Danville, Deerfield, Edwardsville, Hinsdale Central, Hononegah, Jacobs, Naperville North, New Trier, O’Fallon, Stevenson, United Township, University Laboratory

1500 Division (competing Tuesday) -- 23

Burlington Central, Carbondale, Champaign Central, Dunlap, Fenwick, Galesburg, Geneseo, Glenwood, Jersey, Kaneland, La Salle-Peru, Lemont, Mahomet-Seymour, Metamora, Mt. Vernon, Richmond-Burton, St. Viator, Triad, Vernon Hills, Waterloo

700 Division (competing Wednesday) -- 25

Bismarck-Henning, Byron, Carlinville, Carterville, Farmington, Freeburg, Harrisburg, Johnsburg, Macomb, Marian Central Catholic, Marmion, Maroa-Forsyth, Mater Dei, Monmouth-Roseville, Monticello, Pleasant Plains, Robinson, Seneca, St. Bede, Timothy Christian, University High School, University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, Wesclin, Wheaton Academy, White County

300 (competing Thursday) -- 25

Athens, Brimfield, Brown County, Christian Heritage, Christopher, College Preparatory School of America, Cumberland, Edwards County, Elgin Academy, Gallatin County, Gibault, Hamilton, Islamic Foundation School, Keith Country Day, LeRoy, Marquette Academy, Metro-East Lutheran, Okaw Valley, Pecatonica, Regina Dominican, Spoon River Valley, St. Anthony, St. Teresa, Universal School, Zeigler-Royalton