Coding challenge inspires young programmers

Newcastle Coding Challenge 2016 was held on February 6, attracting over 60 keen coder despite the wet weather on Saturday.

The “Hackathon”, which took place in the Lindisfarne Room in King’s Road Building, was organized jointly by Computing and Technology Society (NUCATS) and Scott Logic. Scott Logic is a growing software consultancy based in Newcastle.

Participants gathered to assemble teams of up to 6 members. The teams were required to derive an algorithm to trade shares in a virtual market and competed to earn the biggest profit.

The task was undisclosed until start of the Coding Challenge. The contest ran from 12pm to 4pm, demanding not only creativity, skills and teamwork but also a high level of concentration.

The winning team, who optimistically named themselves “Winners 2016”, made a record amount of over £35,000 virtual profit.

Speaking of how their algorithm works, “Winners 2016” said it divided the weightings to each stock basing on stock values. If a stock was rising quickly, the algorithm would buy as much as they could and sell it. For stocks falling quickly, it would do nothing so that they could make sure they would not get involved.

Apart from the honourable title as the champion of the challenge, each of the teammates was awarded a £20 PizzaExpress discount.

Jake Towers, now studying MComp Computer Science after attending Sunderland College, was part of the winning team with his friends Joe Honour, Chris McQueen, Gary Peel, Rob Hamilton and Andrew Webber.

“We turned up just to have some fun coding”, said Towers. “We were very pleased and proud when we saw our solution had won.”

“It (our algorithm) is magic”, said runner-up “Netflix and Chill”. The team earned over £22,000 profit. They did it by using combining two algorithms – the long-term and short-term algorithms were working together to maximise profits.

During the contest, founder and managing director Gary Scott made a brief appearance.

Before the announcement of results, NUCATS presented three lucky raffle winners with Amazon vouchers. There was also a presentation given by Scott Logic’s staff.

To finish off the event, participants had chance to mingle to other students and staffs from Scott Logic over beer and pizzas, when they had chance to ask about application procedure and other coding or career advice.

Scott Logic started the outreach project with Newcastle University and other colleges in its office since 2013. This year is the first time to have the Hackathon taken place in the university.

“The support from NUCATS has been invaluable in making this one [Coding Challenge] our most successful yet”, said John Wright, Scott Logic’s Recruitment Manager.

Part of the company’s recruitment strategy is aiming to attract students to apply for their 2016 internship and graduate programmes.

“We do take real notice of applicants who find opportunities to immerse themselves in technology outside of their studies, so our advice is to take advantage of events like ours and just get involved”, explained Wright on a further note. He is hoping to see a spike in applications after the success of the coding challenge.

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