OC students Unstumpable in global coding contest

Okanagan College computer science students battled sleep deprivation in the 24-hour virtual coding competition.

  • Dec. 16, 2016 5:00 a.m.

Martin Wallace

Not many could stump Unstumpable.

Three Okanagan College computer science students, Kevin Hall, Brody Travis and Martin Wallace placed second out of 74 teams nationally in the IEEEXtreme student programming competition. That also placed them 125th of 2,200 teams which competed globally at the 10th anniversary of IEEEXtreme.

Team Unstumpable, along with four other teams of OC computer science students, battled sleep deprivation and competitors from around the world in the 24-hour virtual coding competition put on by the Institute of Electrical andElectronics Engineers (IEEE), the world’s largest association of technical professionals.

The contest challenges teams to work collaboratively to solve a series ofprogramming problems released at the same time globally over the duration of aday.

“We had a strategy going in as to how we would approach each question and wecommunicated well as a team,” Hall said in a press release from the college. “Westarted off strong and were in the top 15 worldwide after the first few questions,but the lack of sleep definitely impacted our problem-solving abilities.”

Unstumpable put in hours of training with professors Youry Khmelevsky, Ken Chidlow and Jim Nastos who coached them and proctored the competition on campus.

The other four Okanagan College teams placed 22, 25, 46 and 52 in Canada.

Students “can practically apply their skills, which shows them the immediate implications of their studies in the industry, in research and in competitions such as IEEEXtreme,” said Khmelevsky, chair of Okanagan College’s Computer Science department.

“These sorts of coding competitions help to equip students with the skills, languages, and processes to enter the fastest growing sector in the Okanagan,” said Raghwa Gopal, CEO of Accelerate Okanagan.

Work demand is high in the Okanagan’s $1.3 billion technology industry, which is growing at 15 per cent per year, according to Gopal. Accelerate Okanagan’s job board has about 75 open jobs at technology-enabled companies available at any given time.

Though Wallace, Hall and Travis are second-year students, they all have held or are holding part-time jobs in Kelowna’s tech industry. “It’s great because at the college you have the skills learning,” Wallace said. “At work, you have the business side of learning. You can see the full picture.”

For a complete list of the competition results see www.okanagan.bc.ca/cosc or visit www.ieee.org/Xtreme.

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