Coding competition engenders creativity

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Coding competition engenders creativity

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Participants of the Bluehack Hackathon contest work on programming in last year’s contest. Provided by the company

Samsung Electronics is known for giving hefty merit-based bonuses to motivate workers and promote competition.

But as much as the extra pay keeps some staff happy, the tech company has turned toward a more exciting means of achieving the same goal. Every year it hosts the Bluehack Hackathon competition, where a group of workers spends two days developing their ideas into tangible technology or products. As indicated by the name - a combination of “hacking” and “marathon” - it centers on programming and solving algorithms.

The event, which was introduced to Samsung Electronics workers in 2013, now also welcomes the company’s affiliates.

For last year’s contest, which ran on July 4 and 5, participants came from Samsung Group’s advertising arm Cheil Worldwide, Samsung SDS, Samsung Fine Chemicals, Samsung Display and Samsung Electronics.

The 119 participants were given 19 hours, from 8 p.m. on the first day to 3 p.m. the next day. In that time, participants had to work in groups to come up with smartphone applications or electronic devices.

“Since most of the workers at Samsung have a background in engineering, they are really passionate about developing new tools,” said a representative of the company. “Although it is a marathon competition that requires staying up all night, all of the participants appeared to really enjoy it.”

The company extended the competition outside of Samsung by launching a public programming contest last year.

While the Bluehack Hackathon event is not strict about which products the groups develop, the Samsung Gear Hackathon focuses more on creating software programs.

But the core principal is the same: professional and student programmers gather and collaborate to identify top engineering talent.

At last year’s Samsung Gear Hackathon, the mission given to participants was to develop an app for Samsung’s Gear 2 smart watch.

The watch allows users to make and receive calls and read texts on an AMOLED display. But it currently only has a few apps and limited device compatibility.

The public contest’s participants were also given two days to develop an app. But their schedules were stricter than the internal contest.

The first day was dedicated to development while the second was for presenting the app. Each team had five minutes to show their final product.

Since the mission was to make an app for the Gear 2, participants had to use a specific development tool - Wearable Platform, which uses the HTML5 and CSS coding needed to create applications for the device.

Participants had the chance to win a total of more than 10 million won in prize money, as well as receive exposure for their apps through Samsung’s global marketing channels.

Thirty-two teams comprised of a mix of people - from students to middle-aged developers - were chosen to take part in the event after passing a preliminary round.

“The contest is not only for spotting good engineering talent, we can also promote new technology through it, which is great for long term,” the Samsung official said.

BY PARK EUN-JEE [park.eunjee@joongang.co.kr]

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