Google started its "Highly Open Participation Contest" this year to encourage high school students to learn more about open source software, which is free software available for anyone to download, use and develop. Each student was paired with a mentor and assigned a task.
Wilde, a Los Altos Hills resident and entering sophomore at Mountain View High, worked with Plone, an open source Web site which allows people "to publish new Web pages without any coding experience or expensive Web design tools like Adobe Dreamweaver," he said.
Wilde wrote four "themes" designed to let users work on their Web sites by copying files. Last Friday, he joined the nine other winners — who had beaten out hundreds of high school students from around the world — in a tour of the Google campus, complete with lunch and an award presentation by Alan Eustace, Google's senior vice president of engineering.
"It is nice to look at your faces, and see the future of Google through your eyes," Eustace told the winners. "There are not as many people going into computer science given the impact we can make."
While Google has run a similar contest for college students for the last three years, company employees said they wanted younger students to have opportunities to explore technology, math and engineering.
"We would like to engage students of a younger age," said Leslie Hawthorn, a program manager at Google who organized the contest. "It blew away our wildest expectation."