Announcing the 2017 Atomic Games!

It’s time for our third annual Atomic Games! This programming challenge provides a great learning opportunity for college students and a chance to interview with Atomic in a fun, low-pressure environment. We were delighted by student interest and enthusiastic participation in last year’s Games, and we have some key enhancements for 2017.

Proven Path to Employment at Atomic

Over the last two years, we’ve hired seven Games contestants to full-time positions at Atomic. We’ve also hired three underclass students to join us for summer internships. We’re excited by the interviewing experience the Games provide:

For Students

  • Rather than being asked to negotiate the artificial environment and time constraints of a technical interview, contestants do what they love – they solve interesting problems through code. This lets students’ ability as software developers shine through.
  • Most interviewing experiences are stressful and draining, but this event is fun! We see a lot of smiles and excitement throughout the day.
  • Tournament champions win $500 in cash. Not a lot of interviews provide the chance to win money!

For Our Hiring Team

  • We observe candidates working in a team environment. This is valuable data for us since we care deeply about collaboration and communication and want to see candidates working with a partner.
  • We watch students plan a day, react to adversity, and overcome obstacles. Do they shut down under pressure? Does it adversely affect their interactions with teammates?
  • We periodically ask students for progress updates. It’s important to us that students can frame their work positively and convince the hiring team that they’re confident in their efforts throughout the day.

This exercise gives a much better window into each candidate’s ability than a standard take-home challenge.

What’s new this year

We’re always looking to improve the Games and have a couple nice changes for 2017.

Real-Time Strategy

Our first two events challenged students to solve popular board games. This year we’ve designed a game from scratch. We think it’ll provide a more interesting challenge and room for creativity. We’re excited to see what students think.

Starter Kits

We’re providing sample code to students this year to jumpstart their solutions. We’re expecting this will make the event more fun as students will spend less time coding the basics and more time working on interesting algorithms.

Even Playing Field

In past events, students who used scripting languages had some runtime advantages over students who used virtual machine languages. We’ve taken this startup time penalty out of the equation.

Broad participation

We were thrilled to have students from four colleges apply to participate in the 2015 Games. This year, we’ve already had students from fifteen schools apply:

Alma College
Calvin College
Eastern Michigan University
George Mason University
Georgia State University
Grand Valley State University
Illinois Institute Of Technology
Kalamazoo College
Michigan State University
Oakland University
Saginaw Valley State University
University of Maryland College Park
University of Michigan
University of Washington
Wayne State University

We’re excited that interest has spread throughout Michigan and that we’re receiving applications from outside the state.

How to Apply

The Atomic Games are open to folks pursuing a bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer engineering, or a related program. We’ll host the Games in both Grand Rapids (Oct 21) and in Ann Arbor (Oct 20, 23) this year. We’re taking applications through October 11th. Please visit our Atomic Games website and fill out the form to apply for the event. Or if you know a student who’d enjoy the event, please share the news!