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High school programmers meet at HP Labs for ‘HP CodeWars Silicon Valley’


Contributed by Johanna Kwan, HP Labs Project Manager




On a Saturday morning earlier this month, nearly 200 students and parent/teacher chaperones gathered at HP Labs’ Palo Alto headquarters to compete in the second annual ‘HP CodeWars Silicon Valley.’


The competition, which is run entirely by HP employee volunteers and open to all high school students, public or private, drew 57 teams of students from 19 schools, including one from Connecticut and another from Downey, near Los Angeles. They met in HP Labs’ main dining room to tackle a set of 20 coding challenges using Java, JavaScript, C/C++/C#, or Python.


Trophies were awarded to the top novice and advanced teams, with raffle prizes of HP technology and giveaways to all participants.


This year’s winners:

Advanced Division: 1st Cupertino High School, 2nd Saint Francis High School (Mountain View), 3rd Leland High School & Cupertino High School (tied)


Novice Division: 1st Carlmont High School (Belmont), 2nd Cupertino High School, 3rd Mission San Jose High School


Palo Alto is one of eight HP locations around the world now hosting HP CodeWars events. The first competition was held in 1997 in Houston, Texas and has since spread to Roseville (CA) and Austin (TX) in the United States, Newcastle (UK) and Barcelona (Spain) in Europe, and Bangalore (India) and Taipei (Taiwan) in Asia. Events are often held simultaneously within a region, featuring the same problems (which start out easy but get increasingly tough to solve) in each location, so teams can compare their scores with schools in other cities, too.


The Palo Alto competition’s 2015 executive sponsors were Janice Zdankus, vice president of Knowledge Management in HP’s Enterprise group, and John Sontag, HP Labs vice president and director of Systems Research.


“I believe, strongly, that problem solving and communications skills are critical in a 21st Century workforce, and expressing them as computer code is a must for knowledge workers,” Sontag told reporters from Downey, California’s Warren High School.


“CodeWars is a really positive experience for students who are among the most likely to work in technology in their schools,” adds HP’s Johanna Kwan, program manager of the Palo Alto event. “It’s a lot of fun for everyone – but it’s also a valuable opportunity for us to showcase HP's leadership in our local community and our commitment to inspiring the current and future generation of employees. We’re already planning next year’s competition – which promises to be our biggest one yet.”


Additional information:  


Watch a student-produced documentary about competing in the 2014 HP CodeWars Houston Competition:



Members of the winning Cupertino High School team.


Members of Evergreen High School



Hard at work during the competition.


Photography by Richard Lewington

About the Author



Congratulations to all the winning teams and all the participants! It's great to see the next generation of STEM professionals already working hard.

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