Coding their way into second place


Milan Varia

Shreyash Ranjan (left) and Yash Prabhu (right) competed in Lockheed Martin’s Code Quest and placed 2nd in their division.

Combinations of keystrokes and clicks of the mouse lead to lines and lines of text. These lines are in a language understood by few. It is not the text of a book, novel, or article. Instead, it tells a different kind of story: code. The writers are none of the members of the Computer Programming Club at North Penn High School.

“The computer programming club is designed to help students discover various programming languages and applications. In the past, students have worked with JAVA, Python, as well as hardware such as Sheros and Raspberry Pi systems,” club advisor Mr. Ryan Kolb said.

On April 24th, the Computer Programming Club competed in Lockheed Martin’s Code Quest, a competition where teams of two to three students work together to solve problems using all kinds of programming languages, ranging from JAVA and Python to C++. They face 30 tasks and battle against other teams. The objective is to solve as many problems as fast as they can in 150 minutes. In 2019, North Penn had first place, but this year’s competition posed new challenges for competitors.

“Lockheed Martin had to design a new system to run CodeQuest as they would not be able to hold the competition in person as they had traditionally. This meant that as students, we had to be prepared for anything and were not able to anticipate exactly what was going to happen,” said Yash Prabhu, who competed in the Novice Level.

Nonetheless, North Penn reclaimed a ranking on the podium, getting 2nd place in the Novice Level division. They proved to handle the unknown with careful skill and courage. Prabhu and his teammate Shreyash Ranjan never lost sight of victory.

“For Shreyash and I the goal was always to win. We came in with the goal of winning and coding to the best of our ability. We already had a large knowledge of the Java programming language, so we focused primarily on understanding how to attack previous CodeQuest problems to succeed this year,” Prabhu said.

As their training built towards the day of the competition, each of them did not doubt their ability. They felt that their hard work would show for itself- they were not wrong.

“The day of the competition was very exciting. Both of us were ready and prepared to code in the morning. During the competition, there was definitely an adrenaline rush of trying to answer as many questions as possible in the limited time that we had. At the end of the competition we thought we had not won, but it was amazing to see our team pop up knowing that we finished strong,” said Shreyash Ranjan.

The day itself was one to remember for them. Students get the opportunity to earn internships over the summer at Lockheed Martin, but their experience provided more than just that.

“The biggest thing that stuck out on the day of the competition was being surrounded by employees of such a prestigious company, Lockheed Martin. This company is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 110,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. Proving my skills in front of them was more rewarding than I could have imagined,” Ranjan said.

The two, however, are not satisfied. Aiming to compete again next year, Prabhu and Ranjan seek more than their second-place victory. Their first win was simply a stepping stone for something more.

“Winning is definitely a good feeling. After winning second place, Shreyash and I are definitely proud, but we are also motivated to work harder and prepare ourselves further so that we can win the entire competition next year,” Prabhu said.