Coders gain crucial experience at weekend ‘camp’

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Among the hum of a multitude of computers and the gulping of endless Mountain Dew, participants were busy at work creating new web or mobile apps. 

Code Camp is a 24-hour programming event that is also a social networking event for the community. It’s a chance for people to do a project they’ve always wanted to do but just needed the time to get started.

“It’s where people get a chance to test out their skills in an environment that’s not restricted by school projects they’re doing,” said Jeffery Hudson, a Smith’s Computer Center computer information science specialist. “It lets people have creativity and expression in ways that maybe they wouldn’t in any other capacity. It lets them test out their skills. What can you really get done in 24 hours? That’s the big question.” 

There were more than 130 people registered for the event, with some walk-ins, split between 40 teams competing this year in three different divisions: novice, collegiate and industry.

The teams competed for a diverse mix of prizes, ranging from money to a “Tetris” quilt to control-alt-delete pillows and more. The top winners will demo their project in the Dec. 7 meeting of the Dixie Techs. It is free to compete in because the sponsors provided everything. 

The sponsors are looking to develop the pool of possible future employees. There is a demand for employees in the technology fields. 

“They are looking at the talent,” said Jill Ellis, director and analyst at SEED Dixie/USTAR.  “They know they need to promote the talent from the ground up. So they are excited to see some of these novice groups here that are really young, but very smart.” 

Both novice and collegiate divisions are represented in learning and preparing to compete.

“I have learned more getting ready for this competition than I think I’ll learn in the next 1400 class or at least the same amount,” said Lofton Harmon, a freshman computer science major from Washington. 

If at any point a quandary formulates or a programming situation becomes unsolvable, then students have faculty and sponsors that are willing and able to assist and mentor them. 

For some involved, the connections formed from teachers helping students, or potential employers to potential employees, and the networking of people working together is the best part of Code Camp. 

Students appreciated the contact with the local professionals and sponsors.

“The opportunity to talk to some of these people, meet them and to put a face to a name (will be beneficial) so when you do interview, you already know someone,” said William Duffey, a sophomore CIT major from St. George.

The event provides connections that could become invaluable in the future.

“I want to eventually have a career in this, so I know that this is all put on by people in the community that own businesses that are looking for people to do this,” said Li Kane, a freshman visual technology major from Idaho Falls, Idaho. “[It will get] a foot in the door…with some of the business owners here.”

Even though it may not be an internship, it is still an excellent way for technology majors to show their commitment to the technology community. 

“Even if we can’t use it as an experience [on a resume], it’s kind of a way of saying, ‘Hey I was involved in this way back when. I know how to work in a team and I got this product out within 24 hours,’ which is an accomplishment anyone can be proud of,” said Bredyn McCombs, a freshman computer science major from St. George. 

Students enjoy the opportunity to network and create and keep coming back each year because although at times it may be frustrating when a program doesn’t work, it is fun.

“There’s free food; I get to code all day; what more could I ask for?” McCombs said.

At the collegiate level, the DSC winners were C1119, 2 Guys and Daxos.

The Code Camp organization committee hopes to have even more participants next year and further expand its reach.

“What we’re doing to improve it next year is to get the business school more involved,” Hudson said. “A lot of those people have really good business ideas, and they need to marry the ideas with the talent here.”