Submitted by SCJ Alliance

Quick! How many integers between 1 and 500 are divisible by 3?

In just seconds, local middle school mathletes from Jefferson and Aspire Middle Schools answered that and a variety of other challenging questions at Thurston County’s MATHCOUNTS competition. The teams are now advancing to the state level on March 13 on the Microsoft campus in Redmond.

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The first place team in the local MATHCOUNTS competition includes (from left): Coach Venkata Nallamalli, Kailey Lam, Supraja Kadagandla, Pranav Gundralla and Sathwik Nallamali.

MATHCOUNTS is a national middle school coaching and competitive mathematics program. It promotes math achievement through a series of fun and engaging “bee” style contests on the chapter, state and national levels.

“We get to meet new friends and answer out-of-the-ordinary questions,” first place winners from Jefferson Middle School said. “It’s thrilling when you find the answers!”

Jason Bruhn, an engineer at SCJ Alliance in Lacey, led the competition held at Saint Martin’s University and has volunteered as the Thurston County chapter coordinator for the past 16 years on behalf of the National Society of Professional Engineers. This year, he recruited four additional colleagues from SCJ to help out.

“The best part about it is seeing the amount of kids that are excited about math,” Bruhn said. “I like to show them how what I do relates to what they’re learning now.”

SCJ Alliance engineers, planners and scientists use math every day and are proud to have one of their own out in the community encouraging kids to do the same.

SCJ Senior Vice President Jean Carr said, “Community involvement is a long-standing value at SCJ, and we embrace characteristics like collaboration, accountability, creativity and fun. A hometown MATHCOUNTS competition fits right in.”

Local participants in the Thurston County competition on Feb. 27 came from Aspire, Jefferson, Washington and Reeves middle schools as well as NOVA school. The two top teams and four top individuals advance to the state competition. Jefferson and Aspire Middle Schools won first and second place in the team competition. Jacob Balikov from NOVA, Mira Smith from Aspire, Caleb Palmer-Steller from Washington, and Dan Sunchu from Jefferson are the individuals advancing.

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On behalf of the National Society of Professional Engineers, Jason Bruhn has volunteered as the Thurston County MATHCOUNTS chapter coordinator for the past 16 years.

Winners at the state competition move on to the national competition later in 2016, which is aired on ESPN 3. Those winners will have the chance to meet the newly-elected U.S. president at the 2017 White House Science Fair.

Jason Bruhn is already proud of the young local competitors. “It’s incredible to see how quickly they answer the questions, sometimes in less than 15 seconds! I’ll definitely be sharing this at our monthly staff meeting.”

Fellow SCJ coworkers Tyrell Bradley, Charlie Severs, Linda Hurtado, Maddie Riggs and Mallory Dobbs, joined Bruhn at the competition Saturday, and Carr was not surprised. “We have a culture a helping each other and helping our community,” she said. “Our staff can often be found out in local STEM classes and career fairs, giving students real-life examples of their learning in the professional world and setting a solid foundation for our industry and our clients.”

SCJ Alliance is a nationally-recognized, award-winning company founded in 2006 as Shea Carr Jewell. Celebrating their 10 year anniversary in May, SCJ has grown steadily from three employees in one location, to a dynamic team of nearly 70 employees in five locations.

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