Code Wars Congrats to Colorado State!

Team Meh takes top prize in Windward Code Wars

In an effort that was anything but “meh,” the CSU team of Brandon Schaffer, Austin Walkup, Mike Oba, Chris Campbell and Jason Lewallen were crowned the winners of the 2013 International Collegiate Programming Championship this week.

Congratulations to the students and their faculty adviser, Wim Bohm!

A close contest
windward code wars trophy
The winning Code Wars team at each school gets to proudly display this little guy.

This year the finals came down to the wire, with Team Meh pulling ahead of String Theory from the University of Maryland – College Park by a final round tally of 100.3 to 93.24. Third place went to the Yellow Jackets from the Georgia Institute of Technology, which racked up a final score of 92.15.

(Quick — can you calculate the percent different between second and third place by the time you finish this sentence? Yep, it’s a mere 1.1759%)

Thanks to all our final rounders for making this an exciting contest. Plus we’d like to extend congratulations to *all* the other teams as well, even those that flamed out in the first hours of the competition. Just being willing to enter the contest is an achievement. You can see the list of teams here.

What we learned

Our CTO has blogged about the goal of the challenge, what Windward did right and wrong, and what students tripped over. (What? The firewall acted like a firewall?!) Check it out here.

But we’d also like to share with you some of the feedback we got directly from participants. Such as:

I participated in the Windward Code Wars as a member of (team name), who you probably wouldn’t have seen because we performed abominably.  Somehow, we got lost implementing a sorting algorithm and we were all working from one computer because we failed to make Github work well for us. I am appropriately embarassed, I promise. And thank you twice for sharing the Windward Code Wars with us.  My team might have performed terribly, but we definitely learned a few things about working in a team and under stricter constraints than school provides.

Not to be too Pollyanna-ish about the whole thing, but that’s kind of the point of Code Wars. The contest isn’t to see who can code the best — it’s to show students what they’re capable of. Our CTO’s response sums it up:

I think the constraints and purposeful lack of clarity were a shock to a lot of teams, not just you. Don’t worry – that was bound to happen if this was your first time and the next time you’ll do a lot better. The key thing is you guys stuck with it – that matters more than anything.

Here are some of the other comments we received:

  • “Got to learn things that I never knew before; great experience in team-based programming.” — The team aspect of the competition making the contest fun was one of the most common types of feedback we got.
  • “The puzzle was really fun, I also liked that it wasn’t a shooter, like the tank preview. Seemed more challenging somehow.” Thanks — our program creators thought long and hard about how to write a compelling puzzle.
  • “It’s not like ICPC with very specific algorithmic solutions. Instead it provides a more realistic programming situation.” One of our goals was to make this as realistic as possible, meaning that employers won’t always provide you with specific solutions or pristine code.
  • “The freshman in our club especially enjoyed participating because they had never done anything with AI before this.  I think Code Wars has helped them to get over their fear of AI and competitive programming in general.” See our post Windward Code War – for Ages 17 – 70
  • “Our final product, many of the procedures were well thought out and worked for the most part, but didn’t work as intended.” A response to what students didn’t like about the competition.

Thanks again, everyone — hope to see you next year!