OpenMRS Google Code-In student Nji Collins Wins Grand Prize

OpenMRS Google Code-In student Nji Collins became the first African winner of the prestigious Grand Prize award!

In Nov. 2016, Nji Collins (aka Collin Grimm), a high school student from Bamenda, Cameroon, participated in Google Code-In, the global online coding contest which for pre-university students aged 13 to 17. GCI introduces young talented minds to the incredible open-source world.

During the seven-week program, Grimm completed 20 tasks using the Open Medical Record System, or OpenMRS, a platform that focuses on improving healthcare service in developing countries. We spoke with the young programmer to learn more about his story and interest in computer science and how he came to compete in Google Code-In.

What sparked your interest in computer science?

It all started with my interest in graphic designing from watching a lot of cartoons and fiction movies. Also, I am really good at drawing and painting, and I thought using a computer will make my art even more amazing. I used Adobe Photoshop and experimented with it for a while. Then one day, when I was 15 years old, my sister (who was in high school back then) came home with her homework which was “Hello World” in the C programming language. When she wrote this basic program and executed it, I was really amazed and wanted to know how she did it. I had the feeling that I could “control” a computer by writing code. That is what sparked my interest in programming.

When did you first learn about Google Code In and OpenMRS, and why did you to become involved in the community?

I first learned about OpenMRS in November 2015 from a friend who came to my school to talk about Google Code-In, just a week before it started. He talked about open source and some of the organisations that participated in GCI. Amongst them, he mentioned OpenMRS. OpenMRS’ slogan “Write Code. Save Lives” really caught my attention and I thought to myself, ‘if I could write code to save someone’s life, then why not?’. I got interested in OpenMRS because the community was very friendly. Also, I wanted to know how I could one day save someone’s life by writing code. When GCI started I decided to participate with OpenMRS which is how I got to know about the huge OpenMRS community.

What role did OpenMRS and its community play in your GCI experience?

The OpenMRS community was very helpful during my participation in GCI. I met a lot of Inspiring people and other participants who were always there to help out, if in need. Daniel Kayiwa, Ivange Larry, Shreyans Sheth, Tenzin Zomkyi and a lot more are some of the people who made GCI really fun and exciting! The community is very friendly and ready at all times to guide you in what ever issues you are facing.

What projects have you been working on for OpenMRS and what is the impact you see for each project?

During GCI I made a few contributions to the OpenMRS Core module, Reference Application module and also on the documentation (Wiki and Developer Manual). I feel that every contribution I made will have an impact one way or another when combined with every other person’s contribution in the OpenMRS community.

I created a few videos for OpenMRS on different topics which can be viewed on my YouTube Channel. Also, one task I did that I really enjoyed was transferring the OpenMRS Developer Manual to GitBook, which is now being used as an official documentation!

Also, I made a few PRs on the OpenMRS source code (had to squash a lot of commit though), and a PR on the reference application to allow login using only the keyboard! That was the most tricky task I did.

I completed some tasks, giving each one my best effort. Also, whenever I had the chance (given my busy schedule) I tried as much as I could to help community members who raised questions on the communication channels. My first task was to earn OpenMRS Talk badges, and it was a really fun one! Afterword, I gave myself the challenge to earn more amazing badges! (Especially the /dev/{n} badges)

The favorite part of my work with OpenMRS was being part of the very friendly community. Helping out people with issues everyday was really fun and educative. I got to know a lot more about the OpenMRS Platform just by helping others out. And getting to work with the awesome mentors and other students… It was just perfect.

You mentioned a desire to work in Silicon Valley, why is that? What specifically do you want to achieve and why?

Right now, my main goal is to complete my high school studies and enroll in a good university. I want to continue studying computer science in college. I have an interest in AI and Machine Learning and will like to study more in that field. Also, I’ll like to work at Silicon Valley one day because it is a place of inspiration to me.

About Collin Grimm

OpenMRS GCI student Collin Grimm is the first student from Africa to win Google Code-In’s Grand Prize.

My name is Nji Collins, but popularly known as Collin Grimm on the web! (And that’s how my friends call me). I’m a highschool student from Cameroon and currently in my final year.

When I am not busy doing school work, I love contributing to Open Source projects and learning new stuff related to technology. I have contributed to the OpenMRS organisation and a few other open source software orgs before. Also, I have participated in the Google Code-In twice which was very awesome.

Now apart from awesomeness and open source coding, I like Fine Arts and Painting. I have been doing arts since I was about 7 years old and have perfected the talent over time. I like painting as it gets my mind into a whole new universe of thoughts!

In a nutshell, I am a teenager (at the time of writing lol) who is passionate about software development and Open Source.

Fun fact: I can sing, and I believe I’m good at it! But I can’t dance at all. I can barely move my body when it comes to dancing

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