Tennessee College of Applied Technology/Portland Computer Information Technology student Harley Gifford received a gold medal in Computer Programming at Tennessee SkillsUSA State Leadership and Skills Conference in Chattanooga in April.

TCAT of Nashville and the Portland TCAT campus director Mark Lenz said, “We’re proud because this was the first year for Portland, and to win a gold medal in SkillUSA shows the quality of training we’re offering and quality of students that represent our community. We couldn’t be more proud of Harley.”

Gifford was required to do two programing tasks which were judged based on the quality of the code used and the workability of the program.

The first program was designed for the student to set up a business with a certain number of employees, establish a tax bracket, and calculate taxes.

The second program was to change a palindrome name from first name-last name order to last name-first name order. (A palindrome is a word, phrase, or sequence that reads the same backward as forward, e.g. Ava Hannah.) The students could choose the computer language code of their choice.

Gifford wrote his program using an older computer language named C.

TCAT Portland CIT Instructor Andrew Cutchins said, “Many comments were heard from the judges. One judge said that the code was clean, and he said that based on his experience, it was something that he would have written as a four-year college student. He said it was very high quality, and he had rarely seen code that good.”

“I found it quite simple,” Gifford said of the assignmennt. “I was given material to prepare, and it was national level material.”

Gifford began using computers at a very young age playing consoles like Atari and Nintendo.

“I found what I could do was limited without knowledge of programing, and this led me to want to learn to program,” Gifford added.

Gifford will compete in the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference June 20-24 in Louisville, Ky.

“I would be lying if I said I didn’t like the prestige winning provides,” he added. “It is very prestigious to be recognized, and it should help in my employment chances a lot.”

Gifford will earn his CIT Specialist Diploma in Dec. after 16 months of study at TCAT Portland.

Cutchins said, “I think that he may be one of the most gifted students I’ll ever see come through this program.”

Gifford has other interests in addition to computers. He raises Easter egger chickens (known for their green eggs) and silkies (known for their fluffy feathers). He operates a small business selling farm fresh eggs. He also enjoys reading science fiction novels and reading about trends in technology on the Internet.

Gifford is the son of Shelly and Gary Gifford of Portland.

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