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HP CodeWars: coders in costume at a zoo minus hand sanitizer & goats

I am excited to report on my participation in a rite of passage for aspiring teen developers, HP CodeWars. It’s the largest computer science software competition in Texas and this year it expanded to Roseville, California as well as our first international location in Taipei, Taiwan. HP CodeWars brings together high school students and poses a wide range of programming challenges to teams of amateur developers. HP CodeWars supports HP’s goal to develop tomorrow’s engineers and innovators and contributes to HP’s investment in the support of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers.

 

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The event successfully combines the high-tech HP environment with a wide range of programming challenges that test the participants’ development software knowledge and skills. Winning teams in multiple categories such as novice or advanced are awarded trophies, while all participating students are eligible for prizes like HP computers, scanners, printers, software and accessories. In addition, HP grants internships to selected winners, giving the students an opportunity to gain real world experience in the field of computer science.

 

I had the privilege to participate in HP CodeWars behind the scenes; my official role was to magically create a technology petting zoo where students, teachers and parents could see, touch and feel the technology that HP represents. My unofficial job was promoting my areas of passion (as you can see by my collection of hashtags (#HPCodeWars,  #STEM, #HP, #ProLiant, #Gen8, #BladeSystem, #innovation, #girlswhocode) evident on my @JillatHP twitter stream.

Besides the HPCodeWars winning teams, I found several winning moments that impressed me as well as some new hashtags to embrace including #NACME, #STEAM and #HarlemShake (more on that later):

 

Demystifying technology for students

 A technology “petting zoo” is a lot like a traditional petting zoo but without the goats and hand sanitizer. Basically tech is on display and touching and feeling is encouraged. The visitors to the “zoo” were awed by the products on display ranging from HP ProLiant BL, ML and DL servers to HP Elitepad 900 and Elitebook Folio. The standout favorites were the HP Elitebook Revolve and HP Microserver which we may very well see in school computer labs in preparation for CodeWars 2014. In addition to showing off our best tech, the zoo gave us a platform to discuss the relevance of the technology; potential career paths and how we are solve big problems our customers are facing. One of the cases we were demonstrating was the magic of filmmaking and the technology that supports it. What I saw in the student eyes were a-ha moments as they got their mind around this isn’t traditional coding but a technology area that holds much promise and at a massive scale (eyes grew wide when I explained there are more than 20K #BladeSystem servers in one animation rendering farm).

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A Win for STEM

One of the keys to growing #STEM is innovative programs at the grass roots level and I am pleased that the National Action Committee for Minorities in Engineering (#NACME) sent representatives to view HP CodeWars in action. A workforce that is accomplished in STEM disciplines is necessary for America’s (and the world’s for that matter) competitiveness and to preserve leadership in science, technology, and innovation. It is even more important to have a workforce that reflects the overall population. That is why HP is a corporate partner of the NACME and is committed to supporting minorities such as Latinos, African Americans, and American Indians who today are not proportionally represented in #STEM disciplines. CodeWars marks a new dimension to our partnership with #NACME.

 

#STEM morphs to #STE(A)M

So we all get the importance of #STEM, but recently I’ve been intrigued with the notion of #STEAM, including arts education in the traditional Science, Technology, Engineering and Math mix that comprises #STEM. The ingenuity I saw in the HP CodeWars teams through conversation and their costumes inspired by literature, music and popular culture, combined with raw innovation has art as a common denominator. Art spurs creativity which fuels innovation, a must for growing new industries. I am more convinced than ever that it is one of the keys for economic sustainability and growth. And of course, there’s the social aspect, it gives a well-rounded geek more in common conversationally with a wannabe geek like me. The creative costumes also made a big impact on the local press in Houston.

Clean Room CodingBig Tex CoderWizard and Joker

 

A Win for all Geeks

Most of all CodeWars is a win for the more than 700 participating students across 250 teams in 3 locations… even if they didn’t get into the top bracket .. all of them are winners in our eyes. I was very encouraged with the team diversity and the growing groups of #girlswhocode, helping prove the theory that tech careers can be a gender equalizer.

 

Petting Zoo

 

 

Capping off the day, the crowd in Houston enthusiastically participated in a popular culture phenomenon known as #HarlemShake – ey ey!

 

 

If you’re interested in more information on HPCodeWars and maybe trying out the problem set check out the website. You can follow me promoting #STEM and #STEAM concepts and of course #ProLiant and #hpinnovation on Twitter

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