Upper school hosts 2017 Harker Programming Invitational


Derek Yen

Even Hynes, Make School Head of Community, mands the booth of Make School, which teaches students how to create and publish programming projects. The Harker Programming Invitational was held on Mar. 19.

by Jin Tuan, Reporter

Scattered around the Nichols atrium and in the science classrooms with their heads craned forward, the students in each of the 46 teams huddled at their own tables, focused intently on the programming problem they were racing to solve. The Harker Programming club hosted its annual invitational last weekend. This year’s theme of the invitational problems was pirates.

Modeled after the Stanford ProCo, a larger programming competition, the Harker Programming Invitational challenges high school students, both novice and advanced, to compete in teams of two or three. Each year, around 50 teams participate in Harker’s invitational. With one computer per team, each group collaborates to code a solution to problems created by club officers.

“We award prizes based on how well the teams do. These problems are algorithmic-based, so it doesn’t really matter what programming language you use, so we’re open to all sorts of teams like that,” Programming club co-president David Zhu (12) said. “I help write problems, and we also have several officers writing problems as well.”

Club officers also have fun while the competing students enjoy the event that they planned.

“What excites me most is to watch the officers pull off an event and feel proud of what they did,” upper school computer science teacher Susan King said. “Those things that don’t work, they have to be creative problem solvers in the moment and they usually feel great about how they pulled that off as well.”

In addition to the timed competition, the Harker Programming Invitational also hosted a college fair and keynote speakers. Unlike previous years in which only one keynote speaker presented, this year’s invitational had two speakers focusing on artificial intelligence, Chris Manning, a professor of Computer Science and Linguistics at Stanford University, and Angie Krackeler from the IBM Watson team.

This year, 46 teams in total competed. The winning team in the novice division consisted of students from Leland, Dougherty Valley, and Irvington high schools. The winner of the advanced division was a team from Monta Vista high school.

This piece was originally published in the pages of The Winged Post on March 28, 2017.