TCO: The Best of the Best in All Tracks

This post is co-written by DaraK & hi4sandy

Besides design, development, marathon match and algorithm our community also has trip copilots, problem writers, QA and cognitive finalists to TCO18. Although they are not as visible as the other tracks, their effort is impressive as well, in getting the magic golden ticket.

As trip winners, these finalists are not competing at TCO, but they are equally excited as everyone else. Let’s see what is they love the most about TCO.

 

thomaskranitsas

thomaskranitsas is a development copilot trip winner

When was the first TCO you attended and how was it?
TCO16 in Washington, D.C. was my first time on such a big event. It was also my first time in USA. I was very excited to meet peer members and Topcoder admins in person.

IMO, the most interesting part was seeing how experienced members were working/competing under time pressure and while everyone was watching.

How was the copilot competition this year for getting a trip to TCO?
I started as a copilot on November 2017 and I managed to get on the 6th place of the Development copilot leaderboard (stage 2). I was very surprised because I was a “newbie” copilot with zero experience and everyone in the top 10 of the leaderboard had years of experience. Then I said to myself, “You can do it!” and I did it. My secret recipe was: non-stop work, very little sleep and a ton of coffee. The most common question I was being asked that time was “Thomas, don’t you ever sleep?“. Although there were many challenges launching one after another by both new and veteran copilots and the competition was really tough, I managed to get my ticket to the TCO finals on stage 3.

What do you enjoy most in being a copilot?
What I enjoy the most is creating a “sub-community” around a specific project. Working as a copilot means that you have to find the perfect balance between delivering a great product to the customer while keeping the community happy at the same time. Having people looking forward to working on the next challenge in your project gives you the feeling that you have done something right and gives you more confidence about the final deliverable.

What makes TCO special for you?
The competition is great but getting to meet in person everyone you work with throughout the year and the best developers/designers from all around the world is awesome.

 

talesforce

talesforce is a development copilot trip winner

When was the first TCO you attended and how was it?
Although the first time I won a trip was TCO13, I could not make it due to a scheduling conflict and I felt absolutely gutted to miss it. As destiny would have it, I eventually ended up going to TCO14 the next year as a trip winner. It was great experience meeting fellow members and I won a prize in the onsite hackathon!

TCO14 was in San Francisco – a city which I love visiting and consider as my second home so I was thrilled to be there with fellow Topcoder members!

How was the copilot competition this year for getting a trip to TCO?
Being a copilot is perhaps one of the most difficult roles in the Topcoder ecosystem. You need to stay on top of things from several perspectives – client expectations, timelines, budget, member participation, review quality, etc.

And there are some amazing copilots that you’re competing against! It’s not easy to win a trip in the copilot competition and I’m glad I made it!

What do you enjoy most in being a copilot?
The satisfaction of building and delivering some amazing apps & products for clients is the part which I love most about being a copilot. You’re in the driver’s seat – so the project’s success (and failure) is in your hands and how well (or poorly) you execute the plan.

It’s a challenge but it’s also an opportunity and that’s what I relish the most.

What makes TCO special for you?
TCO is like an annual family reunion for me. I get to meet Topcoder staff, fellow members from around the world and watch some of the best developers, designers, and problem solvers (Algo, MM) in the world.

While we work together on a daily basis throughout the year, TCO provides that once in a year opportunity to be in person with all these wonderful people – I can’t be more grateful!

TCO17 was a special surprise for me as I won the ‘Spirit of Topcoder’ award – something completely unexpected.

fajar.mln

fajar.mln is a design copilot trip winner

When was the first TCO you attended and how was it?
My first TCO was TCO13 in Washington, and it was one of the greatest TCO events so far – that was really a blast!

How was the copilot competition this year for getting a trip to TCO?
TCO Copilot competition is always a tough one, I was lucky to be able get the 1st place in the phase 1 to win the trip.

What do you enjoy most in being a copilot?
The ability to analyze different kinds of real world problems and get paid for it, it really helps me to gain more knowledge.

What makes TCO special for you?
Topcoder for me is beyond community; it means family, and when you attend family meeting it always feels special.

 

mahestro

mahestro is a design copilot trip winner

When was the first TCO you attended and how was it?
TCO08 – First time finalist, first time speaking English, first time eating rambutan in my life (thanks to my new Indonesian friends oton, djackmania, Tricia_Tjia, sweetpea and abedavera). It was a life changing experience to me. Leaving my country for first time, getting to know a bunch of amazingly talented people who eventually became longterm friends, it was just priceless. The competition was paradoxically fun and stressful at the same time. Challenges were different by then, I couldn’t participate in all the final phases because I missed my flight but feeling that adrenaline rush when the MC announces that there are 15 min left to finish your design is something that cannot be described, it has to be lived.

How was the copilot competition this year for getting a trip to TCO?
Design Copilot competition is tough. Fajar is unbeatable! The rest of the design copilots take his leftovers (TCO points) and try to make as we can.

What do you enjoy most in being a copilot?
There are several aspects I enjoy of serving as a bridge between community and clients, but if I had to select the one that excites me the most that would be solving problems clients didn’t know or realised they had; this happens normally when I can get access to information that I wouldn’t normally get as a competitor, so I’m able to iterate around the problem alongside with the client while proposing alternate ideas to solve problems or to identify them. Once I hear « oh, I didn’t think about that before » I feel that can be the most valuable reward I can get as a contributor.

What makes TCO special for you?
I’d have to mention seeing old friends, meeting new members and witnessing the most talented people tackling down problems live! It’s so exciting.

 

chekspir

When was the first TCO you attended and how was it?
My first TCO ever was TCO15 at Yogyakarta Indonesia where I qualified as a Design Competitor. It was a really amazing experience, first because the problem we solved onsite were really interesting, it still it is one of the most interesting challenges I have ever competed. Second, because of all the new good friends I made. Today we are like family thanks to that TCO.

How was the copilot competition this year for getting a trip to TCO?
I think that it is really hard to win the trip as a Copilot these days, due the number of challenges and the amount of active Copilots. Basically it is more luck than a real competition.

What do you enjoy most in being a copilot?
What I enjoy most about being a Copilot is the possibility to work on real and complex projects for big clients around the world. This is a very good opportunity for us as professionals.

What makes TCO special for you?
I love to share great memories with friends from all around the world. This community sharing is the best part of Topcoder.

 

DEVELOPER

billsedison

billsedison is a development finalist

When was the first TCO you attended and how was it?
My first TCO was TCO17, it was great. Buffalo wings and Niagara Falls impressed me a lot.

How was the development competition this year for getting a trip to TCO?
I was qualified by winning all challenges of Hercules Fog Recording/PxCore at stage 3. These are C++ intensive and I worked on this project for a long time, so it was not that competitive and I’m lucky to have qualified.

What do you enjoy most in being a copilot?
Leading a project and make the customer happy. I’m really excited when my copiloted project is completed successfully, especially when the client is satisfied with the outcome

 

What makes TCO special for you?
TCO is more than a free trip to the US, it’s a good opportunity to gather community members together. Topcoder community is like a family.

 

winterflame

winterflame is a QA trip winner

When was the first TCO you attended and how was it?
I attended my first TCO in 2011. At that time, several tracks were included such as Conceptualization, Specification.

Was it difficult qualifying for TCO on QA track this year?Very difficult as there is only one position in each period.

How do you approach the QA projects?
Read the challenge specification carefully and understand the scope well before hunting bugs, and keep an eye on already reported bugs.

 

What do you look forward to do at TCO?
Besides meeting top coders, watching algorithm competitions is also my favorite thing to do.

 

sdgun

sdgun is a QA trip winner

When was the first TCO you attended and how was it?
This is my first time and I am very excited. I have been following the topcoder on site event from the live streaming from the very first instance and looking forward to seeing all the people I have worked with and also the community members.

Was it difficult qualifying for TCO on QA track this year?
2018 is the very first time that involves QA track in a topcoder Open (TCO18)

Qualifying is very tough because QA track is a very competitive track and also there are many highly reputed QA members as well as highly competitive new members. Making a small mistake during the competition will make you lose your standings.


How do you approach the QA projects?
First I will read the contest details page as quickly as possible, to get the understanding and the scope of the challenge and then try to log valid bugs as quickly as possible. To do that below key points are important;

[1] Understanding the requirement quickly
[2] Focus on the scope
[3] Speed
[4] Log the bug report with as many details as possible so that reviewer can reproduce it (you can minimize the rejection rate)
[5] Keep track on the bug trail to avoid duplicates (keep duplicates to a minimum so that you can save time and allocate that time to find a new bug and report it)
[6] Keep the mind focused on the competition all the time

What do you look forward to do at TCO?
I am very excited because this is my first TCO experience and looking forward to meeting all the people with whom I have worked and also the top community members participating to the TCO18.