An article was recently written about me and placed in my school’s newspaper. Even having interviewed for the article, there are still some factual discrepancies, but overall the article is a pleasure to read.
Computer programming competitions provide challenges, open doors
Just a mouse click away from giving up, he found it–the last typo. All the hours he spent coding the program had finally paid off. For as long as he can remember, freshman Graham Smith has been captivated by computers. His interest was first sparked when his older brother build and managed a website. To learn more about programming, Smith and his brother set up a Twitter account.
“Once I was on Twitter, I had access to people,” Smith said. “Programmers who knew more about certain topics than I did began to follow me. They started answering my questions, so that’s how I expanded my interest and my knowledge.”
Although Smith’s brother was supportive of his interest in computers, his parents were somewhat hesitant about their young son being connected to social media.
“I got punished once because I was communicated with strangers on Twitter,” he said. “While it was a source of knowledge for me, it was a source of danger for my parents. Now they think what I do is cool, but they’re still very restrictive.”
Recently, Smith has pursued his interest in computer programming, and last summer he joined a group of 120 programmers sponsored by Nokia. The group competes with other programmers worldwide to create new applications and software systems, some of which are published for public use.
“The group was originally started by a random programmers, and people started to join,” Smith said. “It’s hosted on meetup.com, which is like Facebook for groups of people who meet up locally and discuss projects. At Nokia there is a man named Randall Arnold, who works as a developer ambassador. He discovered the group and decided to sponsor it. There’s a whole network of ambassadors all over the world who provide programming knowledge, and it’s their job to find events for us to go to.”
On Jan. 26, Smith competed in the Collin County Community College Global Game Jam, where his team had 48 hours to build a game with a particular theme.
“The Global Game Jam has a theme, and this year it was heartbeat,” Smith said. “There’s an old game called Asteroid Defense, and we put a new spin on it. We decided to put satellites in our game. You’de have to click on the satellites and they’d emit a pulse, which was our take on the heartbeat. If you could capture a meteor inside of two pulses, a laser would fire and destroy it.”
Smith has also been part of creating other apps, such as Unify, which allows students to create online study groups and rate group members in categories including productivity and creativity. The scores are averaged to give every student a score that can be seen on his or her profile.
“It’s really designed for academics, but it definitely helps for finding groups as well,” Smith said. “This app is built to find people based on the criteria of their profiles and then create study groups with people who have similar scores. It’s good for finding people that work well, work hard, and that you’ll want to work with.”
Smith’s passion for programming constantly motivates him to learn more about coding.
“I think with programming you learn a computer language,” he said. “It’s a whole language that you can talk to other programmers about and in. You look at another person’s code and it’s kind of like you’re communicated with that person because you can see his or her personality in the code. I think that it’s just amazing–the possibilities of what you can create are endless.”
Smith’s interest in programming led him to take a Java/Processing course at SMU last summer, as well as robotics, Java, and animation at school. He has been offered several internships for next summer, including one at a technology company in Frisco.
In the future, Smith plans to continue to pursue programming and game design.
“My dream college is Stanford,” Smith said. “I have hope to be accepted there because they have a good computer science program. No matter where I go, I’m going to pursue a career in technology.”