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Nebraska Top Ops at ACE in Chicago

Top Ops participants from the Nebraska Section AWWA competed in Chicago at the AWWA Annual Conference and Exhibition (ACE) in June.

The Nebraska Section Top Ops team, represented by Steve Kelley (Beatrice Board of Public Works), Ken Swanson (Auburn Board of Public Works), and Eric Lee (Lincoln Water System), finished in 6th place out of 19 teams that competed.

The top four finishers in the competition were:

Although the Nebraska Section team got off to a slow start during their first of three preliminary rounds, during the second round of preliminary competition the answers to questions posed seem to come their way. During the third round however, answers to the questions became a bit more elusive to the competitors from Nebraska. Only the top four teams in the preliminary competitions advance to the semi-finals.

As currently formatted for the ACE Top Ops competition, this "Quiz Bowl" style of game allows more participation from all the competing teams without the additional burden of being first to the buzzer.

Two or three teams compete with questions generated for each round that are randomly selected from a secured question bank. Each competing team is provided with an erasable white board. On one side of the board are the words "No Response". Once the question is shown on the screen, the competing teams have 25 seconds for which to determine the answer and write it on the white board. At the 25-second mark the competing teams show their answers. If a team has no answer, the "No Response" side of the board is displayed.

Correct answers are awarded 2 points, math questions are awarded 3 points, and a "No Response" answer is worth 0 points. If a team answers incorrectly, 1 point is deducted from their score. At conclusion of the round competition points are awarded based on how a team placed in the round (3, 2, or 1 point). Each team competes in three preliminary rounds. The four teams with the highest numbers of competition points, advance to the semi-final rounds. As teams advance into the semi-final and championship rounds the question content becomes more difficult.

Success in the sport at that level necessitates having a team members with well-rounded knowledge of treatment, distribution systems, regulatory issues, natural sciences, and more. The Nebraska Top Ops team had that knowledge, but even so, some luck is involved with the random selection of questions for each round.

The Nebraska Top Ops team finished in the top third of the competing teams, and missed the semi-final eligibility by only a couple of slots. That is a respectable finish. Congratulations to our competitors for representing Nebraska well!