While many from the class of 2012 were enjoying their April vacations, senior Brandon Duffany was hard at work, using the free time to fine tune the Cyber Knights robot “Screaming Knight” in an effort to help bring the team a national championship.
For many students and even some established engineers, this may seem like a daunting task. To Duffany, the 2012 valedictorian, it’s all in a days work.
“Programming is just something I enjoy. I’m super into it and it’s something I love to do,” he said. “It keeps me focused and it gives you a good feeling when you accomplish something you know not everyone could do.”
With a mind for math, science and engineering, Duffany has climbed to the top of his class by simply doing what he enjoys and looking at things analytically. But for those who know Duffany, the accomplishment of earning the title of valedictorian – something he has done at the young age of just 16 – comes as no real surprise, especially given his track record.
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Duffany became the lead programmer for the Cyber Knights robotics team when he was just a freshman and has held that title for four years. Over the past two years, in St. Louis as the team’s only programmer.
Lately, however, he has also been able to switch focus and helped to groom aspiring programmers to help carry the team into the future.
“Brandon is so talented and he’s been such an integral part of our team. He’s always tinkering with the robot to make it better and he’s always coming up with new ideas,” Steve Tosta, advisor to the Cyber Knights. “His knowledge of computers is impressive and he is as dedicated as any student I’ve met.”
Growing up in Waterbury, Duffany came to Southington in sixth-grade where he attended . It was there where, as a member of Project Discover, he found a passion in programming.
But Duffany also has a natural knack for classroom learning and earned the position as top student in his class after just his freshman year. He never looked back.
Duffany said he has done an average of four to six hours of homework every night, a burden that comes with taking six advanced placement classes. It would be enough to torture most students, but when asked what he was looking forward to most in college, he didn’t hesitate and kept a straight face as he announced his intentions.
“I’m ready to take on greater challenges and a more engaging experience,” he said.
“His work ethic and skill he has paid off in terms of success in his classes,” said Southington High School Principal Martin Semmel. “I’ve gotten to know him well over the past couple years, and can say he is great kid who is ready to do great things in his life.”
The 2012 valedictorian will attend Cornell University in the fall and will study computer science. Ultimately, he said his goal is to eventually work for one of the nation’s top computer programming companies, whether that be Microsoft, Google or Adobe.
“If I had my choice, I’d work for Google,” he said. “I hear it’s the best job in the world.”
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