EDITOR'S NOTE: A quote from Microsoft spokesman Allison Yrungaray has been redacted.
LAMBERTVILLE -- Nick Cousino is a spreadsheet whiz.
The Bedford High School student finished seventh in an international Microsoft Excel competition in Las Vegas a few weeks ago. The contest was the Certiport Worldwide Competition on Microsoft Office.
Certiport is a Utah-based provider of certification tests that works closely with Microsoft, company spokesman Allison Yrungaray said. The contest featured 113 competitors from 50 countries between the ages of 13 and 22 competing in Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. They were winnowed from 185,000 who took the qualifying test.
Nick, 17, competed in the Excel category. He was given a large data file, called a comma-separated data file, and had to convert and transfer it to a spreadsheet, then perform functions using formulas he worked up.
"It was a pretty big file. The practice test had 500 rows," Nick said. "Then I had to make it into a chart like a pie chart or line graph."
To finish as Nick did, Ms. Yrungaray, said, "he must have known his stuff. He would have had a near perfect exam score. We don't release test scores, but anyone in the top 10 is near perfect."
Nick, for his part, said he started using Excel at age 10 and enjoys the spreadsheet program.
"It saves a lot of time and keeps people organized. I was just curious and started playing around with it," he explained.
When he arrived at high school, he received further Excel training in the general business and advanced classes. Today, he is a Microsoft Office Certified Specialist in the program, a status that puts him in a fairly select group of about 3 million people around the world, according to Ms. Yrungaray.
"It's an impressive thing to have on your resume, especially for a high schooler," she said. "Microsoft Office Specialist is the most popular IT certification in the world."
Nick said he plans to stay with Excel and wants to major in accounting at Michigan State University. His math and computer skills are strong too, he added, "but Excel does all the math for you."
The $5,000 first place prize in the Excel contest went to a contestant from China, Ms. Yrungaray said. But this year, the competition's 11th, an American was a top winner for the first time, in the PowerPoint competition.
"Before that, we had one third place, and that was it," she said.