SSCC hosts Ohio Code Scholar event


Southern State Community College, through its Ohio Code Scholar program, hosted the Grant Imahara Coding Challenge on its central campus Friday in Hillsboro in which about 100 high school students from around Southern Ohio competed by creating their own Star Wars-style droids.

“We have 100 kids from six schools who built 72 half-scale R2-D2 domes,” said Southern State Computer Science Professor Dr. Josh Montgomery, the programming lead for the Ohio Code Scholar program. “The 22 lessons that they completed took them all school year, and they learned electronics, coding and 3D printing.”

Southern State’s Ohio Code Scholar program is a state-funded program that was privately advocated for and resulted in $240,000 in grants each year for five years to help advance Southern Ohio in the computer science field. State Senator Shane Wilkin and the late Dr. Shane Shope were instrumental in securing funding for the program.

During the event, the students attended presentations by Don Bies, Doug Bickert, Tim O’Sullivan and representatives from the Theresa Sondra Jacobs Foundation.

Bies was hired by Lucasfilm in 1987 to operate R2-D2 and soon became the Lucasfilm archivist. Bickert is a Central Ohio member of the global R2 Builders Club. O’Sullivan is a retired Air Force officer who builds droids and movie-related props and supports STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) programs.

Students from Adena, Western Brown, Eastern Brown, Unioto and Chillicothe high schools and the Pickaway-Ross Career Technical Center participated in the event. The students were judged in the categories of exceptional coding, exceptional paint job, exceptional wiring, craziest wiring, and best of show.

“The goal is to judge the students’ progress and celebrate what they have accomplished,” said Montgomery. “Not all students will be successful, but that is not the point; the point is that we are moving the needle forward in coding in Southern Ohio. This little 22-lesson project has hopefully opened up a few eyes.”

The Grant Imahara Coding Challenge is the first custom curriculum project for the Ohio Code Scholar program. Montgomery developed classes during the Star Wars Celebration convention in Anaheim in 2022, where he met celebrities who were excited about the project and wanted to get involved.

Additional contributions to the Ohio Code Scholar program include a $5,000 donation by Bies and a $30,000 donation from The Foundation for Appalachia Ohio. These donations ensure students have access to parts and supplies for their domes.

“We plan to continue moving the needle and working with schools in the area through the Ohio Coders project,” said Montgomery. “We have funds, we have a vision, and we have interested students. I think we have all we need to continue finding and developing successful projects for the kids in our area.”

The Ohio Code Scholar program works to bring more coding and IT programs to high schools in Southern Ohio. The program is available to any school in Southern Ohio that is interested. Students and community members can contact Southern State’s Amy McClellan at [email protected] for information about how to participate in the program.

Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.

No posts to display