November 07, 2011

Students invited to coding challenge at Microsoft

During Kinect CodeCamp, computer science majors gained valuable experience.
  • Julian Dale ’12 (L) and Nic Wilson ’12 (R) talk with Professor of Computer Science Jens Mache

While others may have spent their summer playing video games, Julian Dale ’12 and Nic Wilson ’12 spent their time designing a video game on the Microsoft campus.

The computer science majors participated in Microsoft CodeCamp, an event that brought together 30 developers for a whirlwind challenge: 24 hours to create a game using the Kinect SDK for Windows, Microsoft’s motion-sensing gaming system, which was set to be released the next day.

Despite being the youngest developers at CodeCamp, Dale and Wilson created a contemporary version of the classic arcade game Pong.

“It was a little nerve wracking at first, because we weren’t just the youngest participants, we were the least experienced as well,” Wilson said. “However, once we settled in and got started, we realized that age and experience weren’t necessarily the most important thing. We were able to come up with a good plan and execute our project in the time allotted—something that not all of the more experienced groups were able to do.”

Dale and Wilson’s game caught the attention of tech media, appearing in the following video from the gaming website*.

Early in the summer, Professor of Computer Science Jens Mache received an invitation to recommend students for the event. Mache opened the opportunity up to all four students participating in a Rogers Summer Research project with him. Dale and Wilson accepted the offer and traveled to Redmond, Washington for CodeCamp in June.

“Their success at this event shows that, even though Lewis & Clark is a small school, our students can swim with the big fish,” Mache said.

Beyond the coding challenge, the event also provided an opportunity for the students to network with other participants and Microsoft developers.

“I think that the most enlightening part of the experience for me was getting a look at what the programming industry is really like,” Wilson said. “Getting a chance to interact with a room full of real-world software developers was an irreplaceable experience, and the Microsoft employees were really great about sharing their experiences, including how they got involved in the industry and any advice they had for finding jobs.”

Learn more about the students’ game and their experiences at CodeCamp in this video, produced by Microsoft’s Channel 9.

Lewis & Clark Admissions  Department of Mathematical Sciences


*Having trouble with the video? Some Firefox users have reported problems. Try viewing in Chrome or Safari.