15-year-old CoderDojo ‘Coolest Project’ winner creates his own programming language (video)

5 Nov 2012

Fifteen-year-old Maciej Goszczycki was the winner of the ‘Coolest Project’ Awards held for the first time at Intel’s massive microprocessor manufacturing facility in Leixlip, Co Kildare. Goszczycki won the award for creating his own software language he calls ODA.

More than 150 people turned up at the event on Saturday at which CoderDojo members from all over Ireland demonstrated their projects to a team of judges led by CoderDojo co-founder and Internet Hero James Whelton.

At the event, many of the kids taking part were presented with their ‘belts’ for achievements in writing software.

Goszczycki won the overall award for ODA, a software language he is pioneering. He was presented with a brand new ultrabook for winning the competition.

In recent months, Goszczycki was a member of Team Ireland in the competitive International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI) Competition, which takes takes place over seven days with second-level students from around the world. 

Speaking with Siliconrepublic.com, Goszczycki explained the ODA software emerged out of a task at IOI 2012 called Odeometer.

“It had only labels and you had to programme a robot to do certain things for you. So I thought it would be cool if this language really existed in real life rather than a competition.”

Goszczycki said he has submitted the software to social coding site GitHub and hopes to drum up some support from the young and emerging developer community for the language.

Noel King from DCU’s School of Computing explained the idea behind the awards on Saturday was to encourage the young coding community to pursue any ideas they wanted to and get them through to completion.

He said CoderDojo’s relationship with Intel, which backs events like SciFest, served as a catalyst for the awards.

“We created a contest around Being Cool aimed at promoting creativity and innovation.”

Intel Ireland’s Paul Phelan said he would like to see the idea for the ‘Coolest Project’ awards gain pace and possibly be held in other countries.

“It’s really about giving the volunteers that recognition and also it’s an opportunity for them to meet each other.

“Certainly if it could travel and grow into something more that would be great,” Phelan said.

Last year, Whelton and entrepreneur and investor Bill Liao founded CoderDojo to address the lack of computer education in Ireland. There are now 104 dojos happening every Saturday afternoon (41 in Ireland) in cities from Dublin to Florence, and Tokyo, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, London and Chicago. New ones are sprouting up in Jamaica and Africa.

On any given Saturday, an average of 6,000 kids between the ages of seven and 17 in Ireland and around the world are teaching each other how to write code.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years