Learning a new skill like coding can be incredibly rewarding, especially in the early phases. As time goes on it can require more external motivation to maintain that momentum, and a team-based competition can sometimes be exactly what’s needed.
Enter Professor Nick Holden of UCD’s School Of Biosystems & Food Engineering, who presented a group of senior Academy of Code students with just such an opportunity as he invited them to showcase their skills in a coding competition run as part of the first annual ‘Internet of Things 4 Food’ (IOT4F) conference in UCD, March 21st-23rd, 2018. This event brought together those in the forefront of the space, both in industry and academia, for three days of talks, presentations, workshops and networking - and Academy of Code students would be along for the ride!
9 teams made up of 32 students from the Academy of Code took part in the coding challenge at the event, made possible by sponsorship from both the Academy of Code and Origin Enterprises. Each team was tasked with creating a project around the topic of food waste, food management, or any other food-related topic, and presenting it as part of the conference.
After 12 weeks of hard work and preparation, the student’s designs were judged over several sessions in the week leading up to the conference. The judging panel consisted of Mr. Tom Maher (Academy Of Code), Mr. Pat Bolger (Origin Enterprises), Ms. Spain Hughes (Ripcoder), and Dr. Pat Grace (UCD).
The projects were assessed under five headings: execution, presentation, originality, planning/teamwork and, of course, code structure.
Following the judging, each team’s work was put on display at the UCD event on Thursday the 22nd of March, where the delegates at the conference had the opportunity to view each design and discuss the work with the students. After the project presentations, the students were given a tour of the O’Brien Science Building, where they got a first-hand look at the work which takes place behind the scenes in the University’s science labs.
Following an extremely enjoyable day on the Thursday of the conference, Friday the 23rd of March was the day the winners of the challenge would be announced. An exciting and nerve-racking time for everyone involved in the projects!
After much deliberation, the judges came to a decision and following a talk to the conference’s closing session from the Academy of Code’s Managing Director, Diarmuid Ó Muirgheasa, the winners of the challenge were announced. In first place, Bastian, Jesus, Sofia and Beatriz stole the show with their smart greenhouse design, in which they had automated lighting, heating and watering in a model greenhouse through use of an arduino-based control circuit.
In joint second place were two teams, one of which consisted of students Niamh, Joshua, Isabelle, and Daniel, and the other William, Jonathan, and Maciej. They received prizes for their recycling bin game and recipe app, respectively. The recycling bin game took the form of an arcade game, where points were awarded based on getting the correct waste into the correct bin. The recipe app, meanwhile, demonstrated a very high level of proficiency in UI design, with an entirely custom-coded user interface fronting an app which suggests recipes based on what food the user has available in their refrigerator.
The winners and runners up received prizes including a Genuino Starter Kit and OneForAll gift vouchers, while every student involved in the competition received a certificate for taking part along with a Micro:Bit.
Both the coding competition and the conference itself were leaps into the unknown, but at this remove it seems reasonable to declare a resounding success on both fronts. Delegates left the conference happy, and students left with smiles on faces all round (there were even one or two business cards collected by the students from conference delegates - watch this space!)
It was rewarding not only for the students but also for everyone else here at the Academy of Code to see the students put what they have learned with us into practice, and we can’t wait to re-run the exercise with Nick and the IoT4F team again next year.
A big well done to everyone involved!