Abingdon School student crowned Google champion

Freddie Nicholson is all set to visit the tech giant’s California HQ as part of his prize

16-year-old Freddie Nicholson, from Abingdon School, is celebrating his selection as a grand prize winner in Google Code-in 2018, the tech giant’s annual international competition for young coders. Nicholson, who lives in Oxford, will be off to visit Google headquarters and enjoy some Californian sunshine this summer.

He faced tough competition, with 3,124 students from 77 countries taking part in the contest. Only 54 grand prize winners were selected. In total, the UK boasted six grand prize winners, the US had nine, and India topped the table with 18.

“When the email arrived at 5 o’clock in the morning saying that I was a grand prize winner I couldn’t believe it,” said Nicholson. “Being chosen is an honour, as Google sets tough criteria. We had to show quality, creativity, thoroughness, complexity, and community involvement; all of which I knew I had tried to do, but was unsure whether it was enough to match the excellent contributions from other students.”

Nicholson faced tough competition, with 3,124 students from 77 countries taking part in the contest

The competition is open to pre-university teenagers, aged 13-17. Collectively, they completed 15,323 coding tasks, working with 27 international organisations selected by Google. Freddie was one of two winners who worked with Sugar Labs on a range of projects, including Music Blocks, a learning platform designed for teaching younger children the basics of programming through musical concepts.

Nicholson added: “The contest was challenging; as it’s my GCSE year, I had to make sure that I had a fair balance between my work and the coding. My bus trip to school became an intense daily coding session. When the contest was over, I felt happy about the work I’d put in – it had been a great experience.

The grand prize winners will all receive a four-night, expenses-paid trip to Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, in June or July. Nicholson will meet Google engineers, including one of the mentors he worked with during the contest.

“I can’t wait to go on the trip to Google HQ,” he said. “I am definitely in for a treat. It will be an action-packed four-day program of activities around San Francisco. I look forward to finding out what working for Google is like, and meeting some of their amazing people. It’s definitely not going to be a trip I forget.”