Learning is Like Eating, Says Computer Prodigy

By Kelly Ni, Epoch Times
March 21, 2013 2:12 pm Last Updated: April 9, 2013 9:34 am

In sixth grade Santiago Gonzalez jumped to a full-time college student at Colorado School of Mines. He will have his Master’s degree by the time he is 17, at which point he plans to earn his PhD in computer science from Stanford. His ultimate goal is to work at Apple.

“I really enjoy learning,” he said in a televised interview with THNKR. “To me, I find it as essential as eating. Either you die or you’re pretty miserable without learning.”

Gonzalez said that a well written code is also called “beautiful code.” It’s short and concise. “Much like if you’re writing a poem,” he said.

“When an artist paints a painting he says, ‘Oh that’s a very nice painting. I like how it turned out’ and it’s the same thing with programing,” he said. “Going from a bunch of lines of code to a finished product that people can enjoy all over the world—it feels really nice.”

For Gonzalez, elementary school was a miserable place. His parents remember their son’s enthusiasm for rocks and minerals in first grade. But the surprising part of their sons enthusiasm was that he wanted to learn everything there was to know about rocks and minerals from adult books—not the kid stuff.

He thinks a girlfriend would be a waste of time, he likes to crochet angry birds, and he said that he is nerd.

Yong Bakos, one of his professors at Colorado School of Mines, said in the interview that elementary school is a painfully boring experience for a prodigy like Gonzalez. Imagine being so bored you could cry—that’s how Bakos describes it: “bored to tears,” he said.

It would be like two grown ups sitting down together and learning their ABC’s for two hours, Bakos said.

Gonzalez was teased and mocked in elementary school. His parents said in the interview that if they didn’t guide him the right way then it could have meant disaster for their son.

At college, the students are there to learn, Gonzalez said. And he likes the intelligent and mature atmosphere. He said no one is goofing off and interrupting all the time at his college. Meanwhile, he said that he doesn’t want to interact with kids his own age. 

“He loves being in college and learning,” Bakos said.  Gonzalez said he is enjoying elements of computing systems right now.