Program ant colonies?!
How do you teach trainees about programming? This is what our trainers deal with every day. One way to achieve this is to combine theory with practice in a playful way, such as in our Coding Week 2021, which was about the “Game of Life”. Now the next coding event was on the agenda: a tournament taking place over four weeks, in which our trainees took on the classic programming simulation game “AntMe! “The game is really old,” Tilo, unit lead and instructor of software development, tells us, “it already existed in a previous version when I was still learning programming, roughly 20 years ago.”
Ready. Set. Code.
AntMe! Is written in the programming language C# and is intended to introduce programmers to the topic of artificial intelligence as well as provide an easy introduction to the programming languages C#. The task of the game is to program your own AI for an ant colony, teaching it to collect apples and sugar or to fight bugs and other ants. In addition, it is also possible to specialize your peoples, for example, to program pure sugar collectors or beetle fighters. Each of the events, whether collecting or fighting, earns points. The winner is the programmer with the most points. “The interesting thing is that everyone starts from the same starting point. There is not one way to win, but many different approaches. The question is: which one pays off in the end?”, Tilo continues. “Technically, you learn how to deal with a given API (Application Programming Interface) and how to find freedom for your own creative ideas despite the (tight) specifications.” Each week, our trainees had one day to work with AntMe! to develop their Switch strategy and adjust the codes to grab the most points.
The result of the Coding Weeks 2022
After four weeks of competition between the ant colonies, the winner was determined: Louis Strempfer, a first-year apprentice. “My strategy was to go completely food-based and keep the code as simple as possible,” he says. This shows that with AntMe! Doesn’t it come down to experience – it’s more about staying on the ball, changing things around and testing things. “We tried a new format and it was fun. Although working in a team is very important at our company and we hold this value high, it was very interesting to go into the individual perspective as well. We are looking forward to the next Coding Week(s)!”, Tilo tells. By the way, Louis won something very special: a pillow with the picture of his trainer.