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Mohsen Shoraki likes computers.

"I like computers and technology - especially programming," he said. "I feel good when I am coding actually."

In October, his love of programming paid off when he took first place at the U.S. Information Technology Collegiate South Central Student Conference at Amarillo College, surpassing 11 other teams from 14 schools to win the Java contest.

Shoraki is a first-year computer science major attending Brookhaven College and North Lake College. William Fly, Brookhaven College computer science instructor, said Shoraki won the contest by a "country mile" completing his assigned problem of creating a GUI web application in less than three hours.

Shoraki worked independently on the project to build a basic enterprise application for a fictional business.

"It's a web application that performs several tasks through a web browser. The contest problem statement asked us to come up with pet store inventory that gives customers the ability to save, update and delete records in a database, and access a search depending on some criteria," Shoraki said.

This was his first competition and creating a plan and trying to stay organized was stressful.

"If something goes wrong and you get stuck and cannot go forward, you really have a problem. I had to stick to my plan for building the application," he said. "If you do good work and it is not executable, then the whole thing you have done is nothing. It's worthless."

Overall, the conference was a great experience and after the competition he had time for a little fun. He did some sightseeing and visited Cadillac Ranch before attending the student reception complete with food, karaoke, a DJ and virtual games.

"The Amarillo College faculty was very hospitable and welcoming. They always had a big smile and were very willing to talk," he said. "It was a good feeling hearing my name announced as the big winner."

Shoraki moved to the U.S. two years ago from Iran. When he completes his associate degree, he plans to pursue a bachelor's degree. He also works as a part-time developer at ProKarma.

"It's important to study what you like that interests you," he said. "If students choose the right path for their education, they can work at the same time and implement what they learn in class on the job."