Scott Hamilton and Josh Rykowski are two of the three founders of Runcode, an online service based in Augusta, GA, that provides free programming challenges and competitions for beginner, intermediate, and advanced programmers.
“We provide depth and breadth with our challenges and different topic areas and levels designed to keep everyone who comes to the site engaged,” says Rykowski.
Runcode is especially appealing to beginner programmers because it provides challenges that will help them grow and not become stuck with only working through problems they already know. With each challenge, programmers pick up certain techniques and abilities that allow them to develop.
Rykowski and Hamilton (along with their third founder and two other administrators) were inspired to create Codewarz (now Runcode) because they noticed a lot of people transitioning into cyber fields.
“We wanted to provide the means to work on programming challenges that [programmers] could automate by throwing down some code,” says Rykowski. “Since then, because we enjoy doing what we’re doing, we have continued to develop [Runcode] and it turned into a hobby of ours.”
Rykowski and Hamilton paid for the website out of pocket and funded their own contests, but recently filed for 501(c)(3) status. With the status, Runcode is now considered a nonprofit organization with federal tax exemption and some sponsor money.
With the new status came a rebrand from Codewarz to Runcode. Hamilton explains another company already existed called “Codewars,” so the team decided to rebrand the company to avoid any confusion. According to Hamilton, about 75 percent of Runcode users are from the United States.
When programmers join Runcode, they are invited to also join a Slack Channel that provides access to other users and admins. Users can ask questions and receive some help from those that may be further along. Challenge authors are listed so that users can receive the help they need and are encouraged to keep trying and come back to the site.
“We encourage [users] to reach out if they can’t figure it out. We try not to give the answer but give guided questions that lead to the right answer so they have the learning steps,” says Rykowski.
Runcode is also unique because the site supports 14 different program languages, allowing for users to continue challenging themselves by transitioning to new languages and building new skill sets.
The Runcode team hosts an annual contest and is gearing up for the next one over Veteran’s Day weekend (Nov. 10th-12th). The challenge is a timed event, beginning at 9 A.M. (EST) on November 10th and lasting through 9 A.M. November 12th. The top 10 winners will receive prizes, which include Intel NUC (BOXNUC8i7BEH1), HackTheBox VIP Membership, Roku Ultra, and more.
For more information about the challenge, visit https://live.runcode.ninja/ or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.