Hard work pays for “A-Maze-Bot” programmers
After what he could only describe as “many hours” practicing with his teammate Ryan Fletcher, and watching their bot maneuver its way through five mazes, 2nd year Software development student Brandon Lloyd was shocked that “Eggman” had finished in first at the A-Maze-Bot programming competition.
“It’s not that I wasn’t confident in our bot – I am confident in our bot. But I mean winning first place; it’s a little unreal.”
Eggman, the bot programmed by Lloyd and Fletcher completed each of the five mazes required, one of only 5 entrants to due so. They even topped SolSolari; the bot captained by David Kmet, a Software Development graduate who was competing for fun, but were modest about the achievement.
“We have some advantages that he didn’t. His bot didn’t have a few capabilities like sprinting that didn’t work in the competition a few years ago.
For the competition, students program a “virtual-bot” using Java or Scala and are given about a month beforehand to write their program and work out as many kinks as possible. When the competition takes place the entrants are forced to sit back and watch, hoping that they have programmed a winner.
“We release the package that gives them the sample code, gives them all the tools they need to test the bots,” explains Aravin Duraikannan, A-Maze-Bot’s chief programmer. “They can download it, start working on it and the system will generate random mazes… so they can practice.”
The advantage that comes from hard work and experience was evident at the end of the day when the results were in and the top five competitors were all 2nd and 3rd year students; the top ranked 1st year student was Kaushal Ghandi.
“It’s not just about raw talent or about being some kind of wiz. It’s really about effort; it’s about the time they put in. There is a very strong relationship, the amount of effort and time, and how they perform.”
For their first place effort, Lloyd and Fletcher were awarded a $500 dollar cheque from one of the tournament sponsors, Fluid Media, Inc. One of the prizes was even sponsored by Imaginauts, the start-up company that Mohawk College students Leo and Jerad Godreault founded in May 2011.