Designing My topcoder Story

Member since 03/17/07. Specialties include Engineering and Design

I’ve experienced and been a part of topcoder over a span of seven(!) years now: as a topcoder Design Studio competitor, as a finalist, and now as a copilot. In all this time I’ve watched the topcoder community grow, all the while growing and learning with it myself. This entire journey has been the most incredible learning experience, and has introduced me to a wide range of technologies. And in the process, I have found a set of friends in the faces behind the usernames.

My name is Grishma, I’m 26 years old and living in Mumbai, India. My formal education was in engineering/tech, but I had always harbored a passion for design. Whilst in college, topcoder Design Studio proved a tipping point for me, the place where design started to become my full time occupation. The first contest I participated in was the TC Homepage redesign contest, at a time when the website itself was going through an overhaul. I was soon spending a majority of my free time in college, participating on Design Studio – and within my first year I qualified for the finals of the TC Collegiate Challenge held in Orlando, Florida. This was a life altering experience, the finals were being held in Disney World!

I’ve had far more losses than wins overall, each one a lesson – the winning submissions and feedback provided were all starting points for improvement. The forums were a place to ask questions, and I was encouraged to read up further and look up interesting new technologies and design trends. For example, with the introduction of wireframe contests, I learnt how to make prototypes in Axure completely from scratch, constantly looking up resources online, if only to keep up with the competition. Competing on Design Studio meant the opportunity to work on exciting, large scale projects- and you could jump in at any stage of the project – wireframes, logo and branding, web, infographics, interface design, anywhere.

Over time, participating in Design Studio contests instilled in me a strong sense of discipline and precision. The tightly defined specifications and instructions, the rush to submit mere minutes before a deadline, that *facepalm* feeling when you fail screening for simple mistakes in font declaration, the anticipation while checking tournament leaderboards, the recognized faces in the forums, the grogginess from staying awake working for ten hours straight on contest after contest, that final thrill of seeing that your submission has won -These are all things that are endearingly familiar and common to any Design Studio competitor.

About a year ago, there was a need for people familiar with topcoder Design Studio to help execute projects – understand client requirements and run contests for them. After completing a short training course, Design Studio participants would be certified as ‘copilots’. Being on the other side of the competitions, it definitely helped knowing the requirements and the tendencies of a competing designer. There’s the weightier responsibility of planning and sticking to a project schedule – ensuring the contests run successfully, and each receives enough quality submissions, and completing fixes in time to have the client’s timelines met.

I started working primarily with Jessie, the director of events at topcoder, on the design contests required for the 2013 topcoder Open. The people I worked with on the TCO13 turned out to be some of the most wonderful and warm souls, and the onsite team of staff and community members formed one big global family, that I already can’t wait to see next year.

Topcoder Design Studio is a place to expand your knowledge, use it in a worthy way, work on projects that truly challenge you, grow your skills and practice, and above all – to make great friends.