May 2, 2006 7:11 AM PDT

Google launches European coding competition

Google is reaching out to the European software development community with its first Code Jam programming competition in Europe.

For the next three weeks, European programmers can register at the Code Jam Web site, to be tested later on a programming language of their choice.

The competition begins May 23, when contestants will be given a series of questions to answer in a given amount of time. Submissions will be judged by TopCoder, and the best entries will move on to the next level.

By June 29, after three rounds of competition, the remaining 50 contestants will be flown to Dublin, Irelend, to compete for 30,000 euros ($38,000) in cash and prizes.

Google has sponsored the Code Jam competition for several years in the United States, twice in India and once in China, but this is the first one in Europe. The company opened an engineering center in London last November and also has centers in Dublin; Trondheim, Norway; and Zurich, Switzerland.

Shannon Maher, U.K. engineering-site director at Google, said the competition is part of the company's outreach to the European engineering community. "We tend to emphasize we're doing difficult things here, but we like to have fun doing it," he said.

Google Code Jam also serves as a recruiting tool, Maher said, as the top 50 contestants will be welcome to interview for a position with the search giant.

According to preliminary results from Silicon.com's 2006 Skills Survey, programming expertise is the technical skill in shortest supply in the U.K. work force.

Maher, however, said he's had no trouble attracting qualified and talented engineers in London, especially when it comes to working on mobile technologies. "London has a wonderful talent pool," he said.

He stressed that attracting top engineers is essential to Google. "The quality of engineers is what determines the quality of product you deliver and the ability to solve hard problems. We're all about engineering, intelligence and problem solving," he said.

Sylia Carr of Silicon.com reported from London.

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