The young American winner of the Excel portion of this year’s Microsoft Office Specialist World Championship is 15-year-old Kevin Dimaculangan. Hailing from Fort Myers, Florida, Dimaculangan is a rising sophomore at Dunbar High School, a STEM-focused school that provides certification programs in Microsoft Office software.
The global competition, run by exam development company Certiport, tests children on all of Microsoft Office’s software — Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. This is the second year in a row that the Excel winner came from the U.S. Last year, the cash prize of $7,000 was taken home by John Dumoulin from Virginia.
Dimaculangan had to win Certiport’s national championship first before completing worldwide. In America, he competed against a field of 350,000 students that was eventually narrowed down to 147 finalists who went to Atlanta for the final round of competition. He won a $3,000 prize and an expense-paid trip to Orlando. This year, the global competition attracted more than 760,000 candidates from 116 countries, a 35 percent increase in participation year-over-year. In the concluding worldwide round, competitors participated in unique project-based tests to demonstrate their ability to create documents, spreadsheets and presentations for the information presented in Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
“We are very impressed with the winners of the MOS World Championship and grateful to meet so many young people who have realized the power of Microsoft Office skills for productivity and employability,” said Anthony Salcito, vice president of worldwide education at Microsoft, in a statement. “MOS certification gives students tangible proof they know how to use Microsoft Office tools in academics and on the job from Day One.”
Dimaculangan’s school instituted the Office certification program a decade ago to provide its students with real-world qualifications. “All high schools throughout the United States teach technology,” Jana Hambruch, director of the school’s Academy for Technology Excellence, said in a promotional video during the time of the program’s institution. “They need to get to the next level and offer certification.”
Dimaculangan’s teachers saw promise in him early on as he worked the courses in school.
“He came in and took the basic Excel test,” Denise Spence, IT programs manager for Dunbar HS stated in a recent interview. “He scored perfectly and at a pretty decent clip. And I said yeah, this is a student that I want to ask if he wants to try for the world competition.”
“I’ve always been interested in technology,” Dimaculangan said. “I didn’t know about the certification at the time [I started freshman year], but learning about that in actual class was really cool.”
So, will Dimaculangan take his win and go on to become an accountant, putting his Excel knowledge to use at a big firm? Perhaps not — he wants to go to “one of the big tech schools, like MIT,” and become a software engineer because he “has a mind for it.” And he certainly does.
But no matter — the Microsoft Office Specialist World Championship is in its 17th year and going strong, offering hope that future global Excel champs can be encourage to join the profession.