Winning formula: Eagle Scout wins world championship in Microsoft Excel

On the list of unlikely global competitions for teenagers, this one sits on Row 1 of Column A: a Microsoft Excel world championship.

But sure enough, it’s a thing. Each year, students from around the world compete to see who has the sweetest spreadsheet skills.

This year, for the first time ever, an American won the Excel trophy at the Microsoft Office Specialist World Championship in Anaheim, Calif.

And it wasn’t just any American.

It was Eagle Scout John Dumoulin of Troop 1390 from Woodbridge, Va.

Prepared for the pressure

John, a 17-year-old rising senior, became an Eagle Scout in March 2015, conquering the tough list of requirements completed by the 6 percent of Scouts who earn Scouting’s highest honor.

Two years later, to win the Excel championship, John had to best 560,000 candidates from 122 countries who had entered the competition. At the finals in Anaheim, John and 150 others were given 50 minutes to re-create completed spreadsheets.

John told me that Scouting helped him Be Prepared for that kind of pressure.

“Scouting has given me the mentality that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to, no matter how challenging the feat may be,” he said. “This helped me in the competition.”

Excelling at an early age

John started getting into Excel in middle school, where he loved tracking baseball stats using the software. When he got to Forest Park High School in Woodbridge, John channeled that hobby into something that will serve him well in a future career. Through the school he earned several Microsoft certifications, including one for Excel.

At first, John’s passion for a seemingly mundane program bewildered his friends. But they quickly understood.

“Being a baseball player, my friends were confused when I told them I was competing in an Excel competition, but after I told them what it was they were really supportive and proud of me,” John says.

Surely their support will grow further once they learn of John’s prize for winning the world title: a $7,000 scholarship, a big trophy and an Xbox.

Scouting spreadsheets

John used his skills to help his troop, too. He created a troop calendar in Excel and used it when tracking his progress toward merit badges like Family Life and Personal Fitness.

Of course, John’s hobbies and Scouting experience extend beyond the borders of his laptop screen.

His Eagle project was entirely analog: he preserved trees at a park in Lake Ridge, Va.

“They had an issue with beavers damaging the trees and creating debris on the walkways,” John said. “My volunteers wrapped wire fencing around trees to help preserve them for the park, and we finished with an area cleanup.”

John’s favorite Scouting memories — so far — include learning to ski with his troop, whitewater rafting and his Eagle Scout ceremony.

“Scouting has taught me to strive for excellence and go for high achievement in everything I do,” John said. “I’m glad to bring the Microsoft competition into the world of Scouting and hope for the growth of technology and STEM work in Boy Scouts continues.”

11 Comments

  1. I’m really glad for him.

    I’m kind of disappointed in Microsoft, though. I heard “world championship in Excel” and I thought, “Why haven’t I heard of that — I should be competing.” Then I learned it was just for young students. C’est la vie. 🙂

  2. Congratulations to this Scout. The Excel portion of MS Office can be a challenge at times. I would have loved to see the problems being presented to him.

    As scouts, we should be sensitive, however, to how we treat our flag. He is doing no different from our Olympic medalists – when the win, by draping the flag around then, they are showing respect for our country, and for our flag – I UNDERSTAND THAT NO DISRESPECT IS INTENDED.

    However, if you look at US Code Title, 36, Chapter 10, Paragraph 176, Sub-Paragraph d, it states in part, “The flag should never be used as wearing apparel,…” –

    This is in no way intended to malign him or his accomplishment – just a teaching moment that says we should be sensitive to how we use and treat the flag.

    • Thanks, Carey, I was waiting for someone like you to point this out.

      We’ve disagreed on interpreting flag code before on several occasions. As with all regulations, the entire writ must be taken into consideration.

      Is being draped in a flag a case of “wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery”? In John’s pose (as well as that of many Olympians), the flag is neither “festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds” — but, as the code insists should be done — “allowed to fall free.” It is, in that sense, compliant with the letter of the 36-10-176(d).

      But can a flag be draped over a person at all for “hero’s welcome”? For that question, the more applicable code might be for caskets 36-10-175(n) — however for a joyous occasion — and indeed the union is at John’s head, and over his left shoulder. However, the stripes are across his body, rather than down, but I think the rotation is appropriate application of 36-10-176(b), has his concern is clearly keeping it off the ground.

      I would suggest that taking both regulations on balance, and the event in context, the code leaves room for form of patriotism.

      • Do you really think the casket section is more relevant to someone wearing a flag than the section that explicitly states it should not be worn?

      • US Code Title, 36, Chapter 10, Paragraph 176, Sub-Paragraph d states in it’s entirety:

        “The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free. Bunting of blue, white, and red, always arranged with the blue above, the white in the middle, and the red below, should be used for covering a speaker’s desk, draping the front of the platform, and for decoration in general.”

        The first portion states that “The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery.” The second sentence goes on to say “It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free.” That doesn’t mean that it is okay to wear as long as it falls free.

        US Code Title, 36, Chapter 10, Paragraph 175, Sub-Paragraph n states in it’s entirety:

        “When the flag is used to cover a casket, it should be so placed that the union is at the head and over the left shoulder. The flag should not be lowered into the grave or allowed to touch the ground.”

        This clearly covers only when a flag is covering a casket. In fact, 36-10-175 has 15 sub paragraphs covering all of the different positions and manners of display. None cover wearing around a person. The only place flag code mentions wearing the flag is the above paragraph wear it is explicitly forbidden.

        And to the OP, Way to go John!

        • At question: does the code allow for demonstrations of patriotism where the flag is momentarily draped over the champion representing the USA at an international competition.

          The code did not speak to this specific occasion. There has been no concerted effort to make it do so.

          So we’re stuck asking our fellow Americans to extrapolate one way or the other. We either ask them to consider that the flag draped briefly is de facto “worn apparel”, or we ask them to consider that honoring a living hero is not unlike honoring our fallen.

        • That said, were *I* ever so fortunate to represent my country as an international champion of anything, I would like someone to suspend the flag horizontally or vertically behind me as a backdrop.

          But these days, photos come so fast from so many directions, that I wouldn’t be surprised if I would be caught off guard being asked to smile with a flag on my back, like I think happened to John.

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