A New Plymouth Boys' High School student is rubbing shoulders with the best in the world in the field of computer science.
Alan Ansell, 16, was part of a four-member New Zealand team attending the world's premier computer programming competition for high school students.
The two-day International Olympiad of Informatics competition in Brisbane consisted of two five-hour sessions in which competitors demonstrated their skills in problem-solving, design of algorithms and data structures, programming and testing.
Alan said he was doing well on day one but chose the wrong strategy on day two.
"I was in contention for a silver medal but I had a really bad second day."
Computer science was a fairly young discipline and not widely available at school so he appreciated the support of his IT teacher, Suzanne Scott.
He started writing programmes to play games about two years ago and that got him interested in algorithms.
Alan said it was likely he would use computer science in his future career.
"Computers and algorithms have a wide range of applications to many topics and you can use computers to speed up any sort of process that would ordinarily be done by a person."
Alan was top of New Zealand in scholarship Latin and statistics last year.
His mother, Susan, was proud of his achievements. "He's a busy lad, he puts a lot of time into it."
Of Alan's team-mates - Tony Sun (Auckland Grammar), Logan Glasson (Ex-Burnside High School), and Byung Hoon Cho (Auckland Grammar) - Tony and Logan received bronze medals.
The annual Olympiad features more than 300 of the world's top computer science high school students who are selected through national computing contests.
A New Zealand squad was chosen after a computer programming summer camp in January. Further competitions and training was held before the representing team of four were selected in April.
- © Fairfax NZ News