Adelaidean - News from the University of Adelaide The University of Adelaide Australia
December 2007 Issue
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Computer student in global challenge

 Computer Science

A University of Adelaide student - and the only Australian - made the finals of a global computer programming tournament.

Third-year Mathematical and Computer Sciences student Patrick Coleman, 20, from Aldgate, pitted his programming skills against seven other students from around the world in the finals of the software component design contest, part of the annual 2007 Topcoder Collegiate Challenge. He came sixth.

The three-day finals were held at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

"Disney World during Halloween is a very interesting place to be," said Patrick. "It was also great meeting up with all the other contestants, discussing the problems, learning about what happens in their parts of the world."

Patrick said the competition experience was extremely valuable: "The sorts of program components I'm designing now are exactly what I'll have to be doing in a full-time professional job. I'm already getting the experience in the technology used and the processes involved."

Patrick started entering programming competitions while still at school at St Peter's College in Adelaide. He was on the Australian team in both the 2003 and 2004 International Informatics Olympiads, part of the 'Olympic Games' for the world's brightest science and maths school students, and won a bronze medal in 2003.

Now, as an undergraduate student at the University of Adelaide, he spends 15-20 hours a week entering smaller programming contests to help fund his way through university. The program designs entered in the competitions are sometimes used within larger applications developed by Topcoder for their clients. Some of Patrick's programming has been used within AOL products.

"I make relatively good money compared to other part-time jobs, it's in the field I'm studying and it's flexible hours, so it works nicely around university," Patrick said. Next year Patrick plans to carry on with his studies and do Honours in Computer Science or Mathematics.

Story by Robyn Mills

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Patrick Coleman in the School of Computer Science
Photo by Robyn Mills

Patrick Coleman in the School of Computer Science
Photo by Robyn Mills

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