Three provinces win the top places in the SA Programming Olympiad in the 16th year of Standard Bank’s sponsorship of this tough competition. At a gala dinner in Cape Town, Nicole Borges, Head of Investment Banking Technology, presented at the Standard Bank Trophy to Andi Qu, a grade 11 learner at St John’s College in Gauteng. The coveted trophy has now returned to Gauteng after three years in the Western Cape. Gold medal winner, Andi, says he likes computational geometry and enjoys “cool, ad-hoc problems” more than the “maths and data structure questions”. Earlier this year Andi represented South Africa both at the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI) in Azerbaijan and the International Mathematics Olympiad in England. He has school honours for music and academics. He plans to study computer science and probably AI.
Aaron Naidu of KwaZulu-Natal, and Taariq Mowzer of the Western Cape won the two silver medals. Aaron, in grade 12 at Eden College, says he enjoys “entering all the competitions and Olympiads because they provide challenging questions that allow me to hone my skills and see how I compare to the best students in the country.” Aaron also came top in the 2019 SA Mathematics Olympiad. Taariq, of Fairbairn College, and two-time winner of the Programming Olympiad gold medal, says that using past papers to prepare for the finals give “a comprehensive understanding of where you struggle.”
Three Western Cape learners in grade 12 won the bronze medals for the 2019 Programming Olympiad: Annekin Meyburgh (Hoërskool Bellville), Emile van der Walt (Hoërskool Jan van Riebeeck) and Adri Wessels (Curro Durbanville). In July four of the above six Programming Olympiad medal winners also won bronze medals at the International Mathematics Olympiad (IMO) in England – Mowzer, Naidu, Van der Walt and Wessels.
Michael Cameron, manager of the SA Computer Olympiad, said, “There is great benefit when teachers enter their learners in contests. A top performer in any class pulls up the level of all. A teacher who grasps this will take time to enter competitive events that nurture computational thinking. The Programming Olympiad not only celebrates the top programmers in schools nationwide, giving certificates to the top 50% of the 2 500 participants, it also grows coding talent for Africa.” He added that support is available. “Since July, we have an online evaluator, https://saco-evaluator.org.za for keen learners to practise past questions. It provides feedback for programs written in Python, Pascal (for Delphi users), Java, and C++.”
 Early in her career Nicole developed solutions for the Global Markets business and built an industry-recognized Centre of Excellence for trading applications. Over the past five years she has led the CIB Technology Graduate Programme to nurture South African talent. She recently founded the Elevate movement in Standard Bank to grow strong female leadership in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematical (STEM) discipline
Media release by: Michael Cameron, manager SA Computer Olympiad
Photographs: High resolution photographs available on request