Coders and showbiz may sound like a strange match, but that’s one of the latest bets in Latin America to promote software development and drive the topic of global demand for tech talent into the living rooms of television viewers.
Software engineers from a variety of countries and backgrounds in Latin America got a chance to experience the glamour, the exposure and the high pressure that comes with being participants in a reality show broadcast as an 8 episode miniseries to a global audience through Amazon Prime Video.
Under the title COD3RS Championship, the show pitted over 70,000 software engineers from the region in challenges that tested not only their coding ability, but also their problem-solving skills and their sensibility and knowledge of some of the most pressing matters that ail Latin America and the rest of the world.
“Each coder will put to the test his ability to solve the challenges with ingenuity and innovation. They can all change the world,” announced the show’s host, Brazilian actress Bianca Comparato, in its first episode.
COD3RS makes use of the reality show toolbox (confessional interviews, candid participant profiles, the rush of competition and dramatic interactions with the host), combining those tropes with the fluorescent lights and neons of a high-tech aesthetic, slice-of-life segments on its participants and honest-to-God sessions of pure coding. The final product is an amalgam of flashy TV production, day-to-day computer work and trips through Latin American cities, barrios and rural communities.
Not everything’s about the flash and the spirit of competition, though. COD3RS aims to function as a showcase for Latin American IT talent, showing off the quality of software engineers available in the region, as well as promoting the opportunities at hand for dedicated young prospects with an interest in technology. The purpose of the show is underscored by the fact that IBM is one of the main drivers behind it.
“The job market continues evolving at a fast pace, and it requires more and more talent and disruptive skills to create a new world,” stated Tonny Martins, General Manager of Tech at IBM LATAM, in an interview with press. “We want to inspire people to create a future together, starting today. We’re all protagonists in that process.”
Latin America is no stranger to the tech talent crisis. Private companies, universities and governments in the region are pushing hard to produce the amount of software developers and IT engineers necessary to catch up to the growing demand for technology services. With Nearshore projects growing more popular among US, Canadian and even European firms, the pressure keeps mounting.
“Governments need to offer incentives and increase their efforts for universities to move closer to STEM […] Countries that are doing that are the ones reaping major benefits”—Carlos Pallotti, Argentina’s former undersecretary for Technology and Production Services .
COD3RS won’t solve the problem outright. Nevertheless, it shall help with the promotion of computer sciences as a valuable source of employment and even as a viable tool to change the world in a positive way.
“It’s great. It demystifies the image of the programmer as a nerd and shows the reality of hundreds of young folks in the region,” commented Carlos Pallotti, former undersecretary for Technology and Production Services in Argentina’s Ministry of Production, Science and Technology.
“We need a strong commitment to STEM careers. Governments need to offer incentives and increase their efforts for universities to move closer to STEM instead of social or economic disciplines. Countries that are doing that are the ones reaping major benefits,” added Pallotti.
Coding the World
Bruno Volcovinsky is only 22 years old, but he’s very much aware of several of the problems that ail his country (Argentina) and Latin America as a whole. He’s also aware of the power of what others see as nothing more than lines of code stacked on top of each other.
Bruno’s profile fits that of many of the participants competing for COD3RS’ top prize. He’s a young, talented programmer hailing from Latin America. Most importantly, he’s anxious to help solve the problems of his community. In mid-2020, while the Covid-19 pandemic was at its height, Bruno created Vecini, a platform that connects volunteers with people in need of a helping hand. Right now, he’s working on a program that will help companies monitor emissions and other climate related data.
#Coders La promesa y el desafío es que cualquiera de los 70.000 participantes puede cambiar la realidad. Bruno Volcovinsky @bvolcovinsky participó en #Coders y así contaba su experiencia. @bibicomparato @nachoviale @ibm @pulpo_pr @Ogilvyargentina @PrimeVideoLat @die_palacio pic.twitter.com/eSDLzUZ4Xz
— StoryLab Argentina (@StoryLabArg) July 21, 2022
COD3RS gives Bruno a chance to launch his programming career to greater heights. For him, though, the miniseries is an opportunity to show everyone what stacks of code can do for the world.
“It’s about showing people that programming’s not always about building neat little programs that manage a store’s stock or their accounting operations, which is the common thing to do,” he said in an interview with NSAM. “Software development can deal with issues such as climate change, energy management and the development of the future in general. That’s what got me in, since the beginning.”
“Software development can deal with issues such as climate change, energy management and the development of the future in general”—Bruno Volcovinsky, COD3RS participant
The show gathered tens of thousands of programmers, young and old, from burgeoning cities, rural communities and barrios, from countries such as Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Perú, Chile, México and Venezuela. Many of them share Bruno’s attitude towards programming and his hopes for what COD3RS will do for the image of software development.
“What I love about technology is its capability to solve problems, to provide solutions. No only problems within a company, but problems in a community,” said Gabriel, a 25 year-old hailing from Brazil, during the first episode of the miniseries. Nilari, a 22 year-old from Chile, added in that same episode that “I would like to help and motivate students to get into technology; that’s the future.”
Although COD3RS’ participants are counted in the tens of thousands, only 100 will make it to the finals. Those will get a chance to compete for the the show’s top prize: a trip to Tel Aviv (Israel), where they will visit the offices of what was described as one of the top startup accelerators in the world.