UW Tacoma Student's Winning Idea

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Viveret Steele takes first place in code-a-thon with app that tests the performance of a device's graphics processing unit.

Viveret Steele’s legs started shaking.  The 19-year-old had just won $2,500.  “I’d never seen that much money, never ever had that much money in my bank account,” said Steele.

The University of Washington Tacoma junior had just won the XPRT Women Code-A-Thon held last month in Seattle.  Steele, a junior in computer science, developed an app that tests the performance of an Android device’s graphics processing unit.

Steele first heard about the code-a-thon through emails sent by the Institute of Technology.The GPU renders images for display on a screen.  Participants in this code-a-thon were tasked with writing and testing a performance workload across multiple devices.  “My workload would load in a scene and measure how long it took to set everything up,” said Steele.

Entrants were judged on multiple factors including practicality and innovation.  Steele’s victory is even more impressive considering they didn’t settle on an idea until 20 minutes after the competition started. 

Steele’s ability to create under pressure might stem from experience.  The Federal Way native started experimenting with technology at an early age.  “Ever since I was a little kid I’ve been messing with computers,” said Steele.  “I’d take them apart and see what I could find.”

Steele’s curiosity has morphed from deconstructing computers to constructing apps.  One of Steele’s apps is a dictionary and reference for LGBT terms.  The other acts as an emulator for older video games which randomizes bytes in a game’s data.  “You could be playing Super Mario and you corrupt a bit and you’re playing upside down or invincible,” said Steele.

The initial shock of winning the code-a-thon has dissipated.  Steele made some contacts at the event and was excited to talk with others in the field.  “It’s really good to have a large library of resources you can go back to if you need anything,” said Steele.

As for the source of Steele’s weak knees?  The 19-year-old has another good idea.  Steele plans to put most of the money in a savings account. 

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Written by: 
Eric Wilson-Edge / April 4, 2016
Media contact: 

John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or johnbjr@uw.edu