DIT School of Computing Students Take Top Honours in National Robocode Programming Competition

High performers at 'intervarsity' computer game challenge, Robocode, may have put themselves in the front-line for computer programming positions at top companies, organisers of the games and employers say.

The virtual contest, which was hosted at Tipperary Institute's Thurles campus, involved computer-game loving students from nine third level institutions pitting their very own software for 'tank-war' battles against rivals from other colleges.

The Dublin Institute Technology, School of Computing team of Philip Kavanagh, Castleknock; Nick Rankin, Clondalkin and Ian O'Brien, Rathfarnham walked away with the laurels, while the Tipperary Institute team of Peter McMillan, Drom, Templemore; Joseph Burke, Ardcroney, Nenagh and Eoghan Corr, Clonmel were the beaten finalists.

All competitors are first year students and were been given basic training in software programme writing ahead of the competition.

A key objective of the competition is to encourage creativity in computer software programming skills and while only in its fourth year, organisers say that those who excel at the competition annually tend to enhance their chances considerably of securing positions at top companies when they graduate.

'If their CV or portfolio refers to the fact that they competed and excelled in this competition, it shows they have a natural flair for designing high-end computer software, because that is essentially what this competition is about - finding people with that natural flair,' said James Greenslade, Director of ICT Department at Tipperary Institute.

'In lay-man's language, competitors bring their 'battle tank' software to the event and pit it on-screen against other competitors' software and eventually we come out with a winner. Those who win or place highly in the competition have an innate ability to create software for computer programmes and that ability will be instantly recognised by prospective employers.'

'We have already seen evidence of this, with previous competitors going on to get top jobs. They can end up designing software for everything from computer games themselves to banking software and the standard of the students' computer programming skills has improved beyond expectations over recent years.'

One employer gave a ringing endorsement of the organisers' claim, stating that he was immediately impressed by the reference on one job applicant's CV to his participation in the event.

'Employers are seeking the best talent and looking for people who are constantly improving their skills,' said Tony Kelly of the award winning Galway company Nephin Games - one of the world's leading designers of 'community-based' mobile phone games.

'Having your name on the Robocode honours role informs the interview process. It was an influencing factor when we asked one of the Robocode finalists to come work for us. Students also need to apply what they hear in lectures, become more innovative in their thinking and practice solving real-world problems.'

Sponsors Levono said that the competition is a perfect example of Ireland's educational institutions promoting young Irish talent in the ICT sector. 'Lenovo is proud to be associated with competitions, such as the Robocode Challenge Trophy, that showcase young scientists and encourage them to pursue a career in a market that could see a skills shortage in the future,' said Fiona O'Brien of Levono.

In addition to the Robocode competition itself, Tipperary Institute also kicked-off preparations for next year's 30th anniversary of the 'original of the species' in terms of computer games, Space Invaders, by launching a major nationwide competition for students to develop their own version of the game that launched a thousand arcades!

Also, visitors were treated to a history of computer gaming, with gaming consoles from the last three decades on display at Tipperary Institute during the event. Visitors were also able to view and sample the very latest in game technology, including Microsoft's XNA Game Studio Express, which allows students and hobbyists to build games for Windows Vista and the Xbox 360.

Robocode 2007 drew participants from nine colleges and universities - University College Cork, Cork Institute of Technology, Waterford Institute of Technology, University of Limerick, Letterkenny Institute of Technology, Dublin Institute of Technology, Institute of Technology Blanchardstown, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology and Tipperary Institute.

"Lets get READY TO RUMBLE".

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