Workiva Scottsdale Coding Challenge 2018

August 6, 2019

In January, Scottsdale R&D hosted 52 Arizona State University students from the Software Developers Association, Women in Computer Science, and Mobile Developers student groups for a coding challenge event. This provided a great opportunity for Workiva to meet some talented potential candidates and grow our engineers’ public speaking skills.

The majority of the students were bussed from the ASU campus to the Workiva SkySong building. After the students registered, they were given a tour of the office and then gathered in a conference room for pizza and snacks. Jeana Gingery, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, gave the students an overview of Workiva. After introducing ourselves, we ran through a quick tutorial of the challenge and laid out the rules.

The challenge

Armed with a JavaScript API with functions like move(), senseDirectionToExit(), meleeAttack(MapLocation m), magicAttack(MapLocation m), or the ultra devastating rangedAttack(MapLocation m), students must traverse through level after level of a seemingly endless dungeon. 

Each level presenting new and increasingly difficult challenges from path obstructions to necromancers that spawn armies of skeletons. Students must write code that will allow their character to autonomously overcome each challenge and infiltrate the depths of the dungeon.

Winners

The students were given an hour and 20 minutes. At the end, we asked for the teams to raise their hands if they completed level 1, level 2, level 3, and so on. There were 4 teams that had reached the 5th level or greater, these were our finalists. We then had all the finalists run their code on the challenge three more times as our judges watched, taking the highest level and score from the three runs. 

The winning team managed to reach level 7 while the runners-up only reached level 6. The winners each received a Workiva duffle bag, 3D Pen, Echo Dot, and Raspberry Pi.

Random prizes

We used a random name generator that I whipped up a while ago to give away prizes during the event. We gave away 3 water bottles and a backpack. You can play around with the random name generator here and fork it here if you want your own. It's become quite useful for events like these with giveaways.

Challenge details

The challenge was developed by a team including Bovard Doerschuk-Tiberi during the Seven Day Roguelike Challenge (7DRL). They did an amazing job, and I had a lot of fun running through it myself. For more information on the effort that went into creating the challenge check out this post on Bovard's personal blog. The challenge can be found here if you'd like to try your own dungeon code spelunking skills.

Retro

Looking back on the event, we came up with a few ideas we thought would be great improvements for next time:

  1. Run the finalists code on the big screen—it was very entertaining to watch and would've kept the non-finalists engaged during the end
  2. E-Sports style commentators from our judges

  3. Live scores on the big screen with team names

  4. Better prizes

Survey results

The event was a big success with the help of many people. The students had a lot of fun and were engaged in the challenge throughout the event. We sent out a follow-up survey to the students about the event. Here are some of their responses:

"So glad I went. Definitely looking at Workiva in the future."

"I liked it when Workiva talked about technologies--my tour guide was great in this."