After their exciting and intense week-long competition, the 2012 Broadcom MASTERS finalists got to experience an Innovation Day leading up to Tuesday night’s award ceremony. The morning kicked off with finalists working in their teams to learn basic computer programming in order to alter the classic game, “Snake.”
Raspberry Pi creator, Eben Upton, told the finalists about his experiences growing up in the 1980’s using a BBC Micro (similar to the U.S.’s Commodore 64) where basic prompts were required to access any of the computer’s functions. He claims that this forced users to make the decision NOT to do computer programming, rather than the other way around, and created a “generation who arrived at university with built in knowledge of programming and computers.”
However, after Eben’s graduation from and subsequent employment at Cambridge, he noticed that later generations weren’t coming in with those same skill sets, and the number of students pursuing computer science degrees was dropping dramatically. His idea was to build a platform that would allow every kid to have the same programming experience that he had growing up. Years later, while working for Broadcom Corporation, he would create the Raspberry Pi, a $30 computer built using a chip designed originally for a cell phone.
The Broadcom MASTERS finalists had an hour to use the Raspberry Pi to make alterations to the “Snake” game, commonly found on cell phones and computers. Each team had a liaison to assist them with programming; either Broadcom Corporation employees or engineering students from Howard University. At the end of the session, Eben remarked that this was “the most he had seen anyone get out of Raspberry Pi in an hour.”
The Red team changed the programming to instantly win upon getting the snake to successfully eat 10 apples; the White team made some “rotten” apples in yellow that ended the game and added grass to the background screen; the Gray team tried to create a collaborative 2-person version but ended up with one snake who just kept growing larger; the Black team made the game easier by slowing it down and also tried to add a second player; the Purple team created “invisible apples” and marked certain spaces as “invisible death squares;” and the Gold team started with the goal of creating dueling snakes, but ended up with two people able to control one snake. After finishing their programming experience, each finalist also got to go home with their own Raspberry Pi.
Finalists also had the opportunity to visit the Patent and Trademark Museum in the afternoon to complete their Innovation Day. Award winners were announced Tuesday night, followed by a dessert reception and dance party for all the finalists.
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