Maths Stars Shine In Programming

Without exception the medal winners at the 2014 South African Programming Olympiad are also regular participants and winners of other Olympiads and competitions.


The winners of the 2014 South African Programming Olympiad were announced at a well-attended awards function at the Kelvin Grove Club in Cape Town on 13 October.  Among the guests were the Western Cape Minister of Education, Debbie Schäfer, the Department of Science’s Bersan Lesch and Jane Richardson, director of the Oracle Academy for Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Olympiad manager Peter Waker commented on how multi-talented the winners are.  “The public perception is that a star Computer Programmer must be a nerd who sits in front of a keyboard all day and can do nothing else.  They are wrong.”

Gold medal winner, Thomas Orton from Bishops in Rondebosch, is a regular participant in the National Science Olympiad, where he won the Physics section.  He is also a regular participant in the English Olympiad and a finalist in the National Debating Competition.  While Thomas is a full-time learner at Bishops, he is also a part-time student at UCT.

Silver medal winner, Ulrik de Muelenaere, is a grade 11 learner from Waterkloof High in Gauteng.  He enjoys participation in the Robotics Olympiad – getting through to the World Championships in 2013.

The other silver medal winner, Robin Visser of grade 12 at St George’s Grammar School in Mowbray, is an out-and-out Maths-man.  His sport is Maths; his future studies are in Maths; and he plans a career in Mathematical research.

Robin came first in the UCT Maths Olympiad for five years running and has won two bronze medals in the International Maths Olympiad.  This year he was the top learner in the South African Maths Olympiad; getting 100% – only the second time in the history of the Maths Olympiad this has happened.

Bronze medals went to three learners:

Ural Jonathan Alp – a grade 12 learner at Parklands College in Cape Town.  He participated in the English Olympiad twice, in the UCT Maths Olympiad five times and in the South African Maths Olympiad six times.

This is a similar pattern to the other bronze winner:

Yaseen Mowzer from grade 10 at Fairbairn College in Goodwood, who won an honourable mention at the 2014 International Mathematics Olympiad.

The third bronze medal went to Laurens Weyn, a grade 11 learner at Abbotts College, Century Gate in Cape Town.   He is atypical in that he is not a Mathematics star, but a “Minecraft” devotee.  Minecraft is an award winning game which allows players to be engaged in building virtual worlds.  Laurens used it to build a virtual computer including the operating system and a programming language.