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Oakland Mills graduate wins engineering award for computer package


An Oakland Mills High School graduate has won an award as one of America's top black engineers for her work in developing a computer software package.

Eighteen-year-old Anika Thompson of Columbia received the award Saturday at the Baltimore Convention Center as part of the Black Engineer of the Year Awards Conference, sponsored by the Baltimore-based Career Communications Group, which publishes magazines such as Black Engineer, Hispanic Engineer and Black Professional.

Ms. Thompson, who graduated last year, was given the Black Engineer of the Year award for student leadership.

She had been head of the Black Student Achievement Program at her school as well as president of the Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement program, a precollege group for minority and female students in math-related fields.

She was among 12 other students and professionals nationwide who won an award over the weekend.

Others won for work in the industrial, technological and government fields.

"It really hasn't hit yet," she said with a small laugh last week about her award. "I don't feel surprise or glad or anything."

Ms. Thompson is majoring in industrial engineering with a minor in information systems at North Carolina A&T; University in Greensboro, N.C.

While in high school, she developed a computer software package to make it easier for users to organize student names, addresses, grades, Scholastic Assessment Test scores and other information.

"Out of all this information, you can compile mailing labels, mailing lists and biography lists," she says.

She has sold her software package to more than 20 school districts in the Baltimore metropolitan area. Each software package costs $95.

As a child, she liked playing with dolls or romping at the neighborhood playground. But she turned her attention to computers when her father, Khalil Abdul Rahman, brought one home.

"Just the curiosity of knowing what a computer is or what a computer can do -- I guess that's what fascinated me about it," she says. "You can automate manual jobs. They're time-saving and efficient."

Anika had attended preparatory engineering programs last summer at Georgia Tech University and Morgan State University.

"You got a chance to actually work in the field you were interested in," she said.

She hopes to become a computer consultant after graduating from college.

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