Junior Minseok Bae Takes Top Spot in National Contest

Congratulations to De La Salle Collegiate junior Minseok Bae, who took first place in the “Silver” category of a national coding competition. 

Bae, who started studying programming two years ago, began participating in the online “coding olympiad” at www.usaco.org, at the bronze level. He passed the silver level in January 2021, with a first-place ranking among over 3600 participants, with a perfect score of 1000 for each of the three problems. He now qualifies for the gold level competition.

An international student from South Korea, Bae is largely self-taught in the programming languages of C++ and JAVA, as well as a newer programming language, Python. 

“It’s fun to learn to code and participate in the competitions,” Bae said. 

Participants in the coding competition log in and must complete the solution to the proposed problem within four days, using the coding language of their choice. 

Bae has done well in both state and national competitions, as well as Advanced Placement exams. 

“Min has an amazing ability to quickly grasp mathematical concepts,” Joe Novak, DLS Math Department Leader, said. “As a freshman, Min earned a 5 on the AP Calculus AB exam - an incredible feat for someone without any classroom calculus instruction. He followed that up with a 5 on the BC Calculus exam as a sophomore.” 

The usaco.org website offers numerous resources for participants; the site is sponsored and led by Clemson University’s Computer Science Department. 

Bae credits a mentor in his home country who encouraged him to enter the competition. Bae has interned with Genibot, a South Korean robot coding company. Genibot has developed numerous products to program small robots, aimed at children ages 4 - 10 as part of the educational push for STEAM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics). The kits are now sold on Amazon.

In addition to his academic achievements, Bae is an active member of the DLS SAVE Club. 

“Minseok not only excels in STEM courses, clubs, and competitions but is also a leader who demonstrates what it means to be a true Lasallian,” said Nina Jacks, one of the DLS Science teachers who moderates the SAVE Club. "Minseok is the President of the student-run environmental club (SAVE Club) at DLS, leading efforts like the Kelly Field Sign project and collecting recyclables. Minseok goes above and beyond in providing community service by tutoring his peers as well as recently starting a non-profit organization that aims to provide tutoring, yard work, and more, to members of his community!” 

DLS Counselor Jon Hickey also praises Bae. 

“Minseok has a brilliant mind and is one of hardest working students I've ever had the pleasure of working with,” Hickey said. “This honor is well deserved, and I am eager to see how well he does in the future stages of the competition.” 

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