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Nerd showdown set for Saturday

Nerd showdown set for Saturday

By Paul Nelson | Posted - Sep. 8, 2011 at 8:00 a.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY -- It's called the MebiPenny Coding Competition.

"It's nerds battling for cash and glory," said Instructure CEO Josh Coates.

(Before any computer programmers get mad at me for the use of the word "nerd," please keep in mind that I did not pick the word. the people at Instructure did. Besides, Coates says the word is considered a badge of honor, in this case.)

The competition was sparked when officials at Instructure tried to find programmers with a high enough skill level to hire. Coates said, when the contest is over, the company might actually extend job offers to some of the competitors.


It's nerds battling for cash and glory.

–Josh Coates


"[The contest] is open and, you know, we might hire some people out of it, we might not. It's kind of independent. It's really just for the community to have fun, primarily, in Utah," he said.

Here's how the challenge works. Coates said contestants will be given a series of problems to solve, and they'll need to use their "ninja-like coding skills," to make working programs that solve those problems.

"One problem might be like, ‘See if you can solve this puzzle,' and it's going to be impossible to solve with just pencil and paper," Coates explained.

Programmers are not limited to any specific programming language.

"The problems can be solved by writing code in whatever language people choose as long as they solve the problem," Coates said.

The first rounds of the contest will happen online, but then 10 finalists will face off at Instructure headquarters in Cottonwood Heights.

The winner will receive a MebiPenny, which is Nerdspeak for one penny times two to the 20th power. It works out to $10,485.76. Coates says the winner will also get a lot of Swedish Fish.

E-mail: pnelson@ksl.com

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