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SA teen wins global Google contest

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A Cape Town-based student has walked away as one of the grand prize winners in the inaugural Google Highly Open Participation open source contest. 

The contest, which was open to all pre-university students worldwide, was designed to encourage participation in the open source community. Participating students were free to contribute source code, documentation, training materials or user experience research to any of the open source projects earmarked for attention.
"Open source is very close to Google’s heart,” says Google Open Source Program Manager, Leslie Hawthorn. “We have benefited a great deal from what open source has to offer and contests such as this one allow us to contribute back to the open source community,” she says.
By identifying specific areas of focus for the contest, Google's country manager Stafford Masie says that Google was not only able to channel community effort into furthering open source endeavours, but that it was able to continue to fuel the open source movement’s momentum, raise awareness, and encourage the young coders to push the limits of what’s possible.
Frederico Lorenzi, the 17-year old South African that walked away with one of the 10 grand prizes in the contest, chose MoinMoin, an open source wiki engine as his area of focus, because he says that he already had some familiarity with Python (the programming language MoinMoin is written in).
"I felt that because I had used MoinMoin before, I could get up to speed with what was required far more quickly,” he says.
Lorenzi’s contributions throughout the contest comprised numerous code changes and additions to documentation. “I also reshuffled pages within the MoinMoin wiki and made a screencast of how MoinMoin can easily be installed on the BSD server operating system,” he adds.
The MoinMoin project selected Lorenzi unanimously as the grand prize winner because of the outstanding work he did on the code base, training material and pages on the main wiki site.
Apart from the sense of achievement Lorenzi says he gained from winning the grand prize, he says he learnt a great deal more about Python and object orientation and now has an in-depth knowledge of MoinMoin.
Due to his efforts on the project, he was also given ‘commit rights’ to the MoinMoin code base, which means he is authorised to make changes to the source code without having to first submit them for discussion.
"That said, however, it only applies to smaller bugs I discover and fix,” he says. “Obviously larger, more complex bugs are discussed before they are fixed.”
Masie says that Google is delighted with the success of this first Google Highly Open Participation contest and more specifically that the local office is particularly proud that a South African student came out top in one of the projects.