February 19, 2018

Hundreds of high school students will compete in SIU’s 2018 Accounting Challenge

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Scholarships, trophies and bragging rights are on the line as hundreds of high school students compete in the 20th annual Accounting Challenge at Southern Illinois University Carbondale on Feb. 23. 

About 230 students will participate at the Student Recreation Center’s small gymnasium. The challenge, sponsored by the School of Accountancy in SIU’s College of Business, incorporates individual and team contests. 

First, participants will prove their accounting prowess during an individual knowledge test. Then, working in teams, they will complete in a unique hands-on activity that tests their skills, problem-solving ability and knowledge.

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and news crews are welcome to cover the team competition part of the 2018 Accounting Challenge. It will take place from about 10:30 a.m. to noon on Friday, Feb. 23, in the small gymnasium at the Student Recreation Center. The awards presentation is set for about 1 p.m.

Competition includes written tests and team challenge

The Accounting Challenge kicks off about 9 a.m. with an academic competition. Students will complete written tests that assess their accounting knowledge and skills. 

The competitors earning the highest scores in each division will win certificates and scholarships worth up to $500 if they attend SIU and major in accounting. The divisions include: accounting I and advanced accounting. 

The gym will really come alive with activity about 10:30 a.m. when the team challenge kicks off. Participants will work in teams, using their problem-solving abilities to tackle a unique task. 

Each year’s feat is a surprise and even the event coordinators aren’t in on the secret until that day because Larry Busch, an emeritus SIU School of Art and Design faculty member, designs the challenge. Previous challenges have been thought-provoking and fun. 

“All we know in advance is what supplies to have on hand,” Andrew Huggins said. “But whatever Professor Busch comes up with is guaranteed to be a lot of fun for the participants.” 

Huggins, a master’s of accountancy student from Tamaroa, and Cade Didadj, a senior accounting student from Belleville, are the coordinators of this year’s Accounting Challenge. 

Last year, contestants used a few items commonly found in an office to create a cantilever that would support a Styrofoam bowl filled with golf balls. The team that was able to add the most golf balls into its bowl without the structure collapsing was the winner. 

Previous challenges included using a few everyday objects to make a container that would cradle an egg so it didn’t break when dropped from a second-story balcony and constructing a missile that would out-distance all other competing missiles when launched by a catapult.

The winning teams receive trophies for their schools and for individual team members. 

Winning in more ways than one

Students from 22 Southern Illinois high schools, some as far as nearly 100 miles away, will compete. It all wraps up with an awards presentation at 1 p.m. While many contestants will walk away with scholarships, trophies or certificates, the event is a winning proposition in other ways, organizers say. 

Huggins said it’s a great opportunity for high school students to network with SIU students and find out more about university life and the accounting profession. 

“Students get to ask questions they may be intimidated to ask a parent or a professor,” Huggins said.

They also get T-shirts to commemorate the day. 

Introduction to SIU

“The Accounting Challenge is a fun, welcoming environment where high school students can get to know SIU and the School of Accounting,” Dibadj said. “It gives a good understanding of the welcoming attitude that SIU students and faculty offer, while presenting an opportunity for participants to win scholarships and trophies,” Dibadj added.