BY GIOVANNA FLEITAS
MONTEVIDEO — Agustin Zubiaga, a 15 year old Uruguayan, recently won a content sponsored by Google, thus becoming one of twenty teenagers from around the world to be recognized for his programming skills.
“When I was 12 years old, a teacher taught me to program. The rest I learned on the internet. I have been around computers as long as I can remember, as my mother is a professor of computer science. I love what I do, I think it’s my calling,” Zubiaga told AFP from his home in the department of San José in southwestern Uruguay.
His love of programming led him to volunteer with Sugar Labs, the organization devoted to developing free software. Sugar Labs created a learning platform written and maintained by volunteers around the world. Zubiaga uses his One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) laptop to support the Sugar Labs initiative.
Zubiaga also benefited from the local OLPC project, called Plan Ceibal. The project began in 2006. To date, the Plan Ceibal has distributed more than 500,000 computers to students throughout Uruguay.
Zubiaga, who recently graduated from San Jose Rafael Perazza public school, said “I can be on the computer only for 4 hours per day, as that is the time that my parents allow me to use the computer. If it were up to me, I would spend much more time on the computer, because I never get bored of programming. ”
Among the Applications that Zubiaga presented to enter the competition, one was an app to create custom wallpapers on computers that use the Sugar operating system. Zubiaga’s application was awarded the highest score.
“The news gives us great joy. Augustin’s overall performance is excellent. In addition, his willingness to collaborate with others within the school shows a great spirit of cooperation” stated Veronica Massa, Director of San Jose Rafael Perazza public school.
His father, Nestor Zubiaga, said that the key is that his son “loves” what he does. “The prize took us by surprise, and it is clear that he has great ability,” he added.
The passion for programming and dedication transformed Agustin into one of the 20 young people from around the world selected by Google. Zubiaga was selected from a total of 334 participants from 26 countries. Zubiaga and another teenager from Argentina, were the only two Latin American representatives among the winners.
As a reward, in April he will travel to Mountain View, California, to visit Google’s headquarters.
Watch a video of Agustin being interviewed here (Spanish)