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Silver medal for NZ at Microsoft 'Olympics'

Kiwis have another kind of Olympics win to be proud of this year. Two New Zealand students came home winners in the technology Olympics after spending a week in Orlando, Florida, USA last week.

Aidan Sharpe competed in the Microsoft Office Specialist World Championship and won the silver medal for PowerPoint 2013. Aidan took home a cash prize of $3,750. In addition, Marie Bailey competed in the digital design competition in Orlando. She placed 9th and received the "People's Choice" award for her design, beating out more than 230,000 competitors worldwide.      

More than 700,000 students from 120 countries entered the competition worldwide and 150 competed in the final round of competition in Orlando presented by Certiport.

The global competition tests the expertise of tech wizards aged 13-23 as they create documents and complete timed tasks in PowerPoint, Excel or Microsoft Word with accuracy and speed. 

Narrowly missing out on a medal was fellow Avondale College student Di Kun Ong, who placed fifth in the Microsoft Excel competition; the third consecutive year that he has achieved results within the world’s top ten. 

Australasia now boasts a total of eight top-ten place winners in the competition’s history. All eight have hailed from Avondale College.

Both Ong and Sharpe have also earned multiple industry-recognised Microsoft certifications as part of their involvement in Avondale College’s Innovation Programme.  The Auckland secondary school is now New Zealand’s largest provider of ICT industry qualifications.

“In today’s global economy these young people understand that Microsoft Office Specialist certification gives them an edge and prepares them for success,” says Bob Whelan, president of Pearson Assessments which owns Certiport.  “The competition is a lot of fun, but it also gives participants a valuable, industry-recognized certification on their resume.”

PowerPoint whiz Sharpe attributes his success in the competition to having developed creative thinking skills rather than rote learning. 

“The task is more about engaging problem-solving skills – you just have to figure it out,” he says.

His top tips for PowerPoint users: get to grips with the slide master feature, and always make sure your design suits the purpose of the presentation.

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