Thursday in Ridgeland at the C Spire headquarters, 60 high school students from the Tri-County area are participating in a coding challenge. They will have a shot at up to $24,000 in scholarship money along with other tech savvy prizes.
The C Spire C3 coding challenge will feature teams of up to four students from 15 public and private schools in Hinds, Madison, and Rankin Counties.
Students, along with an adviser, will learn how to use Java coding and artificial intelligence concepts to control an object throughout the day-long competition. C Spire employees will also be helping out, as someone with the company with IT experience will help each team.
For Mississippi, workers with a background in computer science are in high demand but short supply. There are over 1,200 unfilled job openings in this specialty because there just aren’t enough trained individuals. C Spire hopes to change that by encouraging students to pursue a career in technology.
Also making his Mississippi debut at the competition is Pepper, a four-foot tall humanoid robot from Softbank Robotics America. Pepper will be hanging out and interacting with guests and contestants.
Pepper is quite unique with a body and arms that can move in 17 different directions, he has a head filled with sensors and doe-like eyes that are accented by colored lights. Pepper can pick up on your emotions and tell if you’re happy or sad based on your voice. There are already 10,000 Pepper robots in use around the world.
The event began at 8:00 a.m. and will end at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday. Winners for the competition are expected to be announced around 7:00 p.m.