Section: Features

Coders hack away at programming puzzles in ‘Hackathon’

Coders hack away at programming puzzles in ‘Hackathon’

Samyak Shrestha ’25, pictured second from left, won the competition. | COURTESY OF TOBIAS STRAUS

For two and a half hours on Sunday afternoon, students competed in a “Hackathon” hosted by the Kenyon chapter of the Google Developer Student Club. 

Kenyon’s chapter of the Google Student Developer Club (KGSDC) is one of nearly 2,000 internationally. Officially affiliated with Google, the club hosts Hackathons, lectures and “Cloud Study Jams,” where students can learn about different algorithm design techniques or programming languages like Python and C++. 

Participants in Sunday’s event utilized these programming languages to complete a series of coding challenges. “The event we’re having today is a programming contest, [but] we call it a Hackathon because that’s a better name,” KGSDC Treasurer Saurav Pandey ’23 said. Entrants were given a series of programming questions ranging in difficulty to solve in a two-hour window. Whoever solved the greatest number using the programming language of their choice was declared the winner. While students worked at desks, a scoreboard displayed the attempts made by each competitor as they worked through the nine problems.  

“We made sure to include really easy problems ranging to medium difficulty problems so that people can solve at least some of them,” said Dev Akre ’23, KGSDC’s tech lead. Programming isn’t the main obstacle competitors face, though, according to Akre. “The actual hard part is thinking about the problems, developing a system to solve it.” 

Samyak Shrestha ’25 was the competition’s winner. “[Each question is] like a complex word problem. One of my strategies was to visualize what was being said in the problem,” he said. Shrestha was awarded “Google swag” for his victory — a tote bag full of goodies in Google’s well known colorful and minimalist aesthetic. 

Though Kenyon is noted for its emphasis on writing, writing code doesn’t seem to fall under its famed umbrella. “At Kenyon, we don’t have a computer science department at all,” KGSDC President Harshal Rukhaiyar ’24 noted. “We’ve been trying to get it here, but we only have a couple of classes. So the goal of this club is to get more interest from students and make the practice that they’re doing in class more engaging in general.” Kenyon has plans to develop an interdisciplinary computational studies program.

According to its website, one of the goals of Google Student Developer Clubs is working with communities to engineer technological solutions to local problems. “We were working on a project with [Knox Area Transit], the shuttle which goes through Mount Vernon. We wanted to build a live tracking system,” Rukhaiyar said, though the project has run into some setbacks in working with the local government. The red tape might prevent the project from being implemented for now, but leaders of the club hope to complete the project in the future.

As Kenyon’s primary community for all things computer science, KGSDC is looking to expand and wants to engage with the parts of Kenyon that a programming club wouldn’t typically reach, according to Rukhaiyar. Next year, KGSDC hopes to gain more attention for the events it hosts and to collaborate with other clubs to put its programming expertise into practice.  

Harshal Rukhaiyar ’24 is the design assistant for the Collegian.


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