Zach Landau | A&E Editor
In an opportunity of a lifetime, Duquesne computer science student David Berdik seized victory at the Phi Beta Lambda National Leadership Conference competition, netting first place in the computer concepts category.
Berdik, a sophomore in the liberal arts school, beat out 27 other students at the national event held in Anaheim, California. The July 25 competition involved an hour-long exam period consisting of a 100-question test. Topics on it included programming and scripting languages, such as Java, C++ and HTML, and other similar subjects like networking and terminology.
This was not the first time that Berdik won a competition hosted by Phi Beta Lambda.
In 2015, Berdik competed as a high school student in the Future Business Leaders of America’s competition for desktop application programming. In that event, students were tasked with designing a program to monitor the intake of and the cost-of-care for shelter animals.
Berdik’s high school teacher Lisa Klugh encouraged Berdik to compete in the FBLA competition. The two met in a “failed” mobile-app design club, but Berdik later took her web design course.
It was then that Klugh encouraged Berdik to compete in the FBLA competition, which he refused to do for “two to three months.”
“[Klugh’s insistence] started to get annoying,” Berdik joked. “And I was like, ‘Alright, fine, I’ll do it.’”
“Turns out I got really into it, and I really enjoyed it,” he continued.
The entire Phi Beta Lambda competition has been something of a surprise for Berdik.
Before competing at the national level, Berdik first had to earn a position in a qualifying exam.
“I was too busy with my actual computer science classes at Duquesne,” Berdik said. “So when I took the test at the state level, I was not actually as prepared as I wanted to be.”
Berdik was shocked when he learned he qualified to move on to nationals.
“I did not attend the [state] conference in-person,” Berdik said. “So I actually found out through email from one of the members that I placed first at the state level. And they asked me if I wanted to do it at the national level, and I said, ‘Sure, I’ll do it,’ because why not?”
Despite his prior victory, Berdik was still excited to win this past summer.
“I thought that maybe the second time around, it would feel a lot less exciting,” Berdik said. “But it really doesn’t. It’s still kind of amazing.”
Berdik joked that many students would miss Phi Beta Lambda if it wasn’t for their high school teachers encouraging them to join FBLA.
“The people who were on the trip with me from Duquesne [had a] teacher that knew you were really interested in whatever and told you, ‘Take this test,’ and you said no 55 times,” Berdik said. “And then you eventually give in… and you turn out to like it. And you move on to college, and you do it there, too, because you liked it in high school.”
Despite being housed in the business school and being a business-oriented group, Berdik would still encourage any student to join Phi Beta Lambda.
“Even if you’re not in the business school, there’s something there for you. You don’t necessarily have to be in the business school, or be interested in business, to be involved with it,” Berdik said. “It was just as beneficial for me as anyone else.”