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First for code

Code, the basic building block for creating computer software, apps and websites, is practically ubiquitous in today's tech-driven world.

Yet the majority of people has little understanding of how it works, much less are able to use it.

[Robert Saunders]
 The Engineering Society Coding Competition is aimed at introducing more students to the world of coding, says Robert Saunders, Director of Information Technology for the Engineering Society. (University Communications)

With the aim of introducing more Queen’s students to coding the Engineering Society is hosting its first coding competition. The two-week event offers up some prizes as well as bragging rights for the top coder but the real goal is to get more students involved in coding, says Robert Saunders (Sc’19), Director of Information Technology for the society.

“The competition’s not really about the prizes. It’s about getting people involved,” says the computer engineering major. “You never know, one student who doesn’t know anything about coding can sign up and fall in love with it. For me, the competition is a way to leverage my position to get people involved in coding.”

The competition is open to all Queen’s students no matter their skill level and utilizes HackerRank, a website where users can practice on coding problems or set up competitions. Those who sign up to compete will face a series of coding questions that they will have to solve to earn points. The competitor with the most points wins. If there is a tie, the winner will be decided on time.

“Technology is so huge now, it’s really important to get involved. Even if you have the most basic skills for coding at least you have some sense of how things work,” says Mr. Saunders, adding that the site can be used as a learning tool. “When you are doing a problem (HackerRank) asks you to write your code but what’s different about it is you’re not just submitting the code to the platform for us to review, it also runs test cases through your code. It shows the user the process of a computer kind of feeding input to your program and getting the desired output, which is nice.”

Competitors do not have to be on Queen’s campus and can use their own computers. Sign up is free but does require a Queen’s email address.

Visit the Engineering Society Coding Competition site for more information or to participate.

Following the competition Mr. Saunders has also organized the Engineering Society Startup Workshop on Feb. 28 from 6-9 pm. The workshop will focus on project management, team communication, user interface and experience design, version control and issue tracking systems.