Evan Pratten

Software Developer

Competitive Programming

I remember back at the very beginning of my 9th grade year, I got pulled aside by Ethan, Harwood, and Carter, and was told something along the lines of "Hey, we are doing a programming competition, and we are signing you up for it". And just like that, I began my adventure into competitive programming.

The first event I participated in was the 2018 ECOO Programming Contest. I have no memory of how well we did, but I do remember blue-screening Ethan's laptop with a prime number generator that filled up all his available RAM. Valuable lessons about memory management and pre-caching lookup tables were learned, and I moved on.

Later that same year, I was granted an invite to the elusive Google Foobar challenge. I forgive anyone that has no idea what I'm talking about here. Google Foobar is Google's super secret hiring challenge. Googling it will lead you to a few blog posts by other people that got invited, and not a whole lot else. Invites are granted by Google and will pop up on your screen when on one of their websites if they deem you worthy. At the time I completed Foobar, there were five challenges of progressing difficulty, covering everything you might expect from a hard programming interview, but all put together as parts of a story. It was a really really cool experience. And yes, I did say "completed". I even got the recruiting email from Google, but was ultimately rejected due to being too young (14 at the time).

Hi Evan,
Hope all is well! I work on Google’s Campus Tech Intern Recruiting team and saw you had played the foo.bar challenge in the past. I’m really interested in learning more about you and sharing what opportunities we have for students.

In February 2019, with the same group as before, I participated in the Canadian Computing Competition held by the Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing at the University of Waterloo. I also participated in ECOO again that year in March.

In June of 2019, I participated in my first Capture-The-Flag (CTF) hacking event, hosted by Google. Google CTF 2019 was a solo endeavour for myself, and I had great fun trying my hand at some very hard programming and hacking challenges.

The following year, in 2020, I once again participated in the Canadian Computing Competition in February. I also picked up a new event that year. Hack-A-Sat, presented by the United States Air Force and United States Space Force was another fun Capture-The-Flag event, centered around the security of in-orbit satellites. Many challenges involved decoding encrypted or obfuscated transmissions from spacecraft. I placed 435th out of 1278 participants, which isn't too bad for a solo attempt against many of the best competitive hackers in the world. I also competed in Google CTF again this year in August.