A new digital edition of Game of Code will be organized next October 9th, 10th and 11th. Due to the current health situation, the hackathon made in Luxembourg will be held online, but developers will still be able to showcase their skills and work on innovative challenges. Bruno Wozniak, Vice President Digital Innovation at SES Satellites, recalls his best Game of Code memories.
Was “Game of Code” your first hackathon?
No, it was not my first attempt, I can’t claim to be a serial hackathoner just yet but a repeat offender, yes definitely – So, I got 2 prizes at #GameOfCode2018 (it must have been luck… oh, and 2 awesome teammates) and I participated to a couple of startup week-ends and startup hackathons, as a mentor, as a sponsor and as a participant (the latter was the best experience, by far, no doubt).
What did you like the most in this experience?
It may sound a bit mundane, or trivial, but what I liked most was the laser focus on creating, and solving a problem, as opposed to, you know, the talking and “slide-showing” sometimes too predominant in the professional life. What I’m saying is that it is very gratifying to create something that works and that solves a real problem. I also very much liked the team aspect, you know, spending every single minute of your time with a couple of people, during 24 hours, that’s quite something!
And one last thing, I enjoyed the “friendly competition”, the fact that other teams were happy to share their experience and knowledge or conversely, to ask for a piece of advice or an opinion.
Which challenge did you choose?
We picked the SES challenge and more particularly we worked on a solution to optimize the use of frequencies in satellite communication. The spectrum is a scarce and limited resource (hence our team name, “Don’t Mess With The Spectrum”) so, anything we can do to optimize its use is a positive outcome. To do so, we used a couple of advanced algorithms, including reinforcement learning and even a fair auction algorithm to monetize the freed-up frequencies. The best thing is that pre-hackathon I barely knew anything in that domain and as we moved on in the 24 hours of #GameOfCode, I learned, well, a thing or two…
What did you learn from the hackathon experience?
I must confess I am a terrible coder, and incredibly slow as well, but I can’t help I love that stuff! And I learned that what I think of myself does not matter because the community will just accept me as I am – You know, there is this sort of collective growth, everyone sharing their best part and walking away with what they learned from others – That’s super powerful!
Would you participate again in Game of Code? Why?
I would participate again, no doubt! First of all, because it is the perfect platform to go bold, it’s completely risk free, what can go wrong after all… And I would also team up with people I don’t know or I have never worked with before – Just for the sake of learning new ways of thinking, new ways of working and to also, possibly, share my tiny bit of experience and knowledge with others.
Why should developers participate in hackathons such as Game of Code?
They should participate because of what I said above – But also, developers need to realize that their skills are gold… and if they engage with passion and they embrace a fat solid problem, they can move mountains! Sometimes, in the office, it is not easy to connect their work with the big idea, the big ambition, and find a profound purpose – Well here, they have a unique opportunity to create a direct connection between a problem they really care about and their ability to create – Again, it is super gratifying, a climax experience!