Ever since we were younger, Grant, Drew, Josh, and I have always been inspired by technology -- astounded by the sheer amount of power it holds in society today. Technological innovation has shaped, and is still shaping the world, and our very own lives today, through many world-improving technologies such as the Internet of Things. But when our computer science mentioned the opportunity to experience such power, learning, and potential in a firsthand way at K-State, we couldn't pass up the opportunity. After all, as a tight-knit clique of five since Kindergarten-- us four and technology -- how could we not? We had all grown so much with the others by our side, and it was time to continue the trend.
One big problem: none of us knew anything about computer science. Upon expressing our concern to our teacher, she assured us that we would be perfectly fine -- the trip would be a learning experience, and no prior knowledge would be necessary.
Instantly, when we excitedly walked into the building that starry night, we were intimidated -- quickly met by the hundreds of other fellow students who were passionate like us, but experienced, unlike us. We immediately knew that we were going to be the odd ones out, the ones who would be unable to accomplish anything. At that very moment, we thought about walking out, and immediately driving back to Lincoln.
But we stayed. And changed our mindset. We were going to give this our best shot.
And that's where the Command Line Guess the Word came from.
Actually...we were going to do something else. As completely naive programmers, we were going to make a program for twenty questions -- but we soon realized that we would be unable to accomplish that.
After 12 hours of programming, scrambling to learn Python, and nearly giving up in frustration, we realized that we would be unable to do that. Collectively, we decided that we would brainstorm again in two hours, after a short sleep, but we were enthusiastic. We were ready to take on this challenge.
And then...the Command Line Guess the Word came into play.
The Command Line Guess the Word is a fully functional, Python game, that is run in the command line for Windows. In a preset database of numerous, thought-provoking words with descriptions -- one is randomly chosen. Then, one chooses the letter they see fit to choose given the category and length -- and if they are able to figure out the word after a set amount of guesses, they win!
Building the Command Line Guess the Word was a grueling process. Having no prior knowledge, we all had to scramble to learn Python in less than 24 hours -- a challenging process to do in a few weeks, let alone a few hours. In order to further challenge ourselves, we even forced ourselves to create nearly all of our program from scratch, looking up lines of code for nearly none of the program. We then created a large database of words, in order to enhance the playing experience for our players. In order to construct the program itself, we created a series of if-then statements based on the input of the users, attempting to create an interactive experience that they could have fun with.
We ran into an immeasurable amount of challenges this weekend. The largest challenge was becoming proficient enough in Python to even make any progress. The 14 hours we spent on learning the fundamentals of Python were some of the most intensive hours of our lives, but through unbeatable teamwork, perseverance, and resilience, we eventually completed the process.
Another challenge was more specific to two of our teammates -- Josh and Kai. Josh and Kai were granted the job of finding a way to wrap up the game if the inputted letter was part of the word we were attempting to guess.
They began the process at 8:00 PM on Saturday. They finished at 12:30 AM on Sunday.
It was a frustrating four and a half hours for them. While they tried and tried, they could never think of a way to implement the algorithm. They were about to give up. Their hands were aching, their backs were itching, and after only two hours of sleep from the night before, they were ready to call it a night and abandon the idea of submitting a project.
But something clicked. Josh, in a feat of desperation, searched every corner, every possibility, and deducted that an argument involving the intersection of subsets must be the solution. And after four minutes and four lines of code, Command Line Guess the Word was played for the first time, with the guessed word being Kingpin.
This weekend, we were incredibly proud of our accomplishments. While we most definitely will not win a prize due to having a subpar project, the true rewards were through our personal growth with humbling experiences. Becoming true computational thinkers this weekend was a phenomenal experience -- pushing us all out of our comfort zones and forcing us to think outside of the box. Overcoming the obstacle of learning Python in fourteen hours is an accomplishment that few others can share, and coupled with the complex solutions thought of by us inexperienced coders, we are all incredibly proud with how much we grew this weekend.
The amount we learned from K-State cannot be described by a matter of a few words and sentences, or by a few numbers and equations. The knowledge gained was absolutely astounding, and in no other way would we have been prompted to write nearly a 100-line program in Python with only one day of experience. Furthermore, I learned that technology is not an easy concept, as while massive innovations such as the Internet of Things simply make our lives easier and more simplistic every single day, but are incredibly hard to develop by research companies. Experiencing that concept first hand was truly humbling and gave us all a new perspective and insight into the advancing world today.
What's next? We'll see. While we were unable to complete it for the project judging, we intended to dabble into some other programming interfaces in order to create an app for it. But fortunately, while our time at K-State is ending, our everlasting, inspiration and desire to be creative will fuel us to expand upon it in the future. While our project is small now, soon, it will not, as everything starts somewhere small, and this is our somewhere.