Code Camp at DSU challenges competitors to create app in 24 hours

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ST. GEORGE, Utah - Computer programmers gathered in southern Utah Friday, tasked with creating an application in just 24 hours.

It’s called Code Camp, and organizers said it’s a way to foster job growth in St George. There were 250 people who signed up for the challenge, which is sponsored by the Dixie Technical Association.

Companies sent teams, college students signed up, and high-schoolers are hoping to beat them all. Those involved said it may sound boring to those who don’t understand the back end of computers, but to them, it’s a test of their limits.

“You know geek is the new black,” said USU Extension professor Paul Hill. “Everyone here is like, 'This is the cool place to be now.' They’re excited about the possibilities for the future and realizing that they can enjoy what they do, and make money doing it.”

While this is primarily a competition, the prizes are nominal. Blankets, clocks and gift baskets made by the local 4-H club will be awarded to the winners. For most of the participants, it’s a chance to get experience in one of area’s fastest growing industries.

“A lot of the teachers encourage it in order to meet people in the industry and talk to people, and get some exposure,” said DSU student and Code Camp participant Megan Eborn.

Eborn and her team are working to create a zombie survival game in just one day. They split up the tasks, and they said caffeine will carry them through the wee hours. But it’s all worth it to see the finished product come together.

“It’s really awesome to see southern Utah have lots of companies, so that these kids here today have choices,” said Busy Busy Director of Engineering Brad Campbell. “They can stay here if they want, they can move to northern Utah, they can go to Silicon Valley, they can go anywhere and work.”

At the end of 24 hours, judges will review the participants' work, test the application and name a winner. This is the fifth year local companies have put on the event. Organizers said it grows every year.

“It’s the young kids come in this room, they see the industry professionals, they see the college kids, and they see that this is the real deal. And St. George can generate the real deal.”

For more information on Code Camp, visit the event website.

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