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Cracking Microsoft’s CodeCamp

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    Julian Dale CAS ’12; Jens Mache, professor of computer science; and Nic Wilson CAS ’12.

While others may have spent their summer playing video games, Julian Dale CAS ’12 and Nic Wilson CAS ’12 spent their time designing one at Microsoft.

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 software development kit for Windows, which was set to be released the next day. Kinect is Microsoft’s popular motion-sensing gaming system.

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

“It was nerve-wracking at first, because we weren’t just the youngest participants, we were the least experienced as well,” says Wilson. “However, once we settled in and got started, we realized that age and experience weren’t necessarily the most important things. 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.”

Earlier in the summer, Jens Mache, professor of computer science, 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,” says Mache.

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,” says Wilson. “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.”

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