Computer coding camp captures competitive creativity; STGnews Videocast

Programmers of all ages competed at the 5th annual Code Camp at Dixie State University, St. George, Utah, November 21-22, 2014 | Photo by Samantha Tommer, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – There was no rest for the working, as 280 programmers of all levels of expertise competed in Southern Utah’s largest coding competition. Tables, chairs, computers and plenty of caffeine filled the Gardner Center Ballroom at Dixie State University wall to wall, from 8 a.m. Friday to 8 a.m. Saturday for the 24-hour Southern Utah Code Camp.

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Videocast by Samantha Tommer, St. George News

For the 5th annual Code Camp, organizers had to limit registration due to the event’s rapid growth and popularity.

Programmers of all ages competed at the 5th annual Code Camp at Dixie State University, St. George, Utah, November 21-22, 2014 | Photo by Samantha Tommer, St. George News
Programmers of all ages competed at the 5th annual Code Camp at Dixie State University, St. George, Utah, Nov. 21-22, 2014 | Photo by Samantha Tommer, St. George News

“We are just going to need a bigger venue. Every year we grow,” Jill Elliss, Director of USTAR and the Business Resource Center, said. “We are out of space and we need to be able to expose this wonderful opportunity to others.”

According to Jeff Poulton, a Code Camp committee chairman who has been involved in Code Camp since the beginning, the event has doubled in size every year for the past five years.

Programmers off all ages filled the room at 8 a.m. Friday, while some of the younger developers chose to start later in the day to avoid missing any school.

“We go as low as 10 years old,” Joshua Aikens, Dixie Technical Association and Code Camp committee chairman, said about the age range of  the participants. “And I don’t know if I would venture to guess how old the oldest one is here. We don’t have an age cap at the top or the bottom. If you can code, you can play.”

The competition is designed to utilize the talents of all levels of programmers. The rookie kit teams drew in young children from the Southern Utah area and pushed their explorations skills while getting their feet wet in the programming world.

Those that had previous programming knowledge, but wanted to gain more experience, were part of teams in the novice category.

Collegiate teams consisted of enrolled college students and young adults familiar with the coding environment. Industry teams were composed of full-time software professionals currently working in the field. These teams were able to work to develop and promote their own ideas.

Programmers of all ages competed at the 5th annual Code Camp at Dixie State University, St. George, Utah, November 21-22, 2014 | Photo by Samantha Tommer, St. George News
Programmers of all ages competed at the 5th annual Code Camp at Dixie State University, St. George, Utah, Nov. 21-22, 2014 | Photo by Samantha Tommer, St. George News

Many teams were native to the Southern Utah area, but one team traveled much farther than the rest. Former Washington City resident Trent Staheli now lives and works in Monterrey, Mexico, at Screenie, a software company that screens, advertises, interviews and filters applicants looking for employment in Mexico.

“We have a team that we brought up here as a retreat to have fun and do some code,” Staheli said.

“The red mountains are great and there are some nice views here,” Screenie employee Alejandro Carmonda said. “It’s our first time and we have enjoyed it so far.”

Not only is Code Camp a time for developing ideas, but also a time for recruiting talent and developing job opportunities.

“We need more programmers. Every company that is a sponsor here needs programmers,” Elliss said. “We realize that we need to build from the bottom and develop the players.”

Programmers of all ages competed at the 5th annual Code Camp at Dixie State University, St. George, Utah, November 21-22, 2014 | Photo by Samantha Tommer, St. George News
Programmers of all ages competed at the 5th annual Code Camp at Dixie State University, St. George, Utah, November 21-22, 2014 | Photo by Samantha Tommer, St. George News

Code Camp was free for every coder that attended. All meals and drinks were provided free to the programmers so they could eat without taking too much time away from their projects.

The event was sponsored by 30 local tech businesses aiming to enhance the area’s programming community by mentoring and encouraging programmers, watching for upcoming talent, and observing the flow of creative ideas during the competition.

Prizes were awarded to first, second and third place in all four categories.

Category winners

  • Rookie: First place, Pyper Schmutz, Marshall Schmutz, Ben Lord and Ben Woodland. Second place, Isaiah Elliz and Kirk Jackson. Third place, Bailee Allen, Jayson Heap, Carter Goff and Saxon Stevens
  • Novice: First place, William Chase, Carly Chase, Avery Hess and Josue Martinez. Second place, Jarom Madsen. Third place, Jacob Donaldson, Andrew Donaldson, Ryan Jensen and Ryan Nelson.
  • Collegiate: First place, Alexander Rodriguez-Vargas, Ricky Haws, CHaz George and Josh Maxwell. Second place, Brance Boren. Third place, Eliott Orr, Austin Peck, Spencer Van Den Eikhof and Justin Reid.
  • Industry: First place, Bryan and Danielle Poulsen. Second place, Randy Whitelaw, Brett Tucket, Todd Fisher, Nora Valletta. Third place, Li kane, Simon Bergeron, Drew Calder and Chad Olsen.

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Email: stommer@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

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