November 2011 Tech Student of the Month – Patrick Godwin

Patrick_GodwinWe are proud to announce our next Tech Student of the Month, Patrick Godwin, a freshman studying engineering and computer design at the University of Michigan and a third year Microsoft Student Insider who dedicates himself to being a leader and sharing his expertise with the technical community.

Patrick’s passion for technology dates back to middle school when he first realized his interest in computers. It started out when he was given the opportunity to put a couple of computers back together and explore the hardware side of the equation. In efforts to learn more about his newly found interest, he dedicated his spare time to reading books about programming and became drawn to the game development space. He applied his knowledge by familiarizing himself with Blitz BASIC, a programming language designed for beginners, and as his skills developed, he moved onto more advanced languages such as Visual Basic and .NET. Near the end of middle school, he started working virtually with a team of developers on a game called ‘The Movies’ by Lionhead Studios where he was able to learn and contribute to the development of an editing tool for the game. He worked specifically on the particle effects by formatting files to edit particle systems in the gameplay.

In his freshman year at Port Huron Northern High School, Patrick took a programming course where he was able to learn more about software development. His teacher, Charles Belinksy, encouraged his growth by teaching him how to code in C++ and provided him ample support to pursue his passion for technology, both inside and outside the classroom. Throughout the course, Patrick worked on a number of different programming projects where he was able to work with concepts such as basic 3-D rendering in DirectX, architecture and API designs. In his junior and senior year, the school realized Patrick’s potential and allowed him to shape his own curriculum because they did not offer the types of programming courses he needed to advance his skills. He dedicated his independent study section to being Mr. Belinsky’s Teacher’s Assistant where he was allowed to write code and work on various projects for a letter grade. He was able to acquire all the necessary programs and tools through Dreamspark, a program that provides students Microsoft professional tools for free. He spent time working with Windows Server and learned how to deploy active directory services for the school’s computer lab. He also spent his junior year building the foundations of an RPG, or Role Playing Game, using XNA, parts of which are still under development for the Windows Phone platform. He was able to do this by connecting with Alfred Thompson, an Academic Developer Evangelist, over Twitter. Alfred recognized Patrick’s enthusiasm for technology & programming and saw him as a great potential leader for the technical community. Although the Microsoft Student Insider program was still in the works, Patrick was a front-runner in shaping what the role would eventually become. He evangelized the technology space through his blog and became one of the first student insiders. Through the program, he has been able to attend a number of Microsoft events such as the Imagine Cup competitions, meet with notable developers, and get a first-hand peek into emerging technologies and products.

Kinect SkeletonAs an example of Patrick’s outstanding leadership in the technical community, he was an early adopter of the Kinect technology and played a huge role in evangelizing the tool by petitioning for his school to purchase a Kinect Sensor. He understood how significant the tool would be to the future of technology and when the school agreed to grant his suggestion, he spent time learning about the tool such as the Skeleton Tracking API’s, becoming familiar with the technology, and noting its limitations and weaknesses.

Patrick is now a freshman studying engineering and computer design at the University of Michigan and is currently working with Python to build a game geared for players with Autism. He has continued to evangelize the Kinect by convincing his team and teacher to incorporate Kinect technologies into the game. Patrick is working directly with Microsoft Research to contribute his knowledge to the evolution of Kinect technologies within the context of his engineering curriculum.

We appreciate Patrick’s hard work in leading fellow students within the technical community and encourage him to continue his outstanding efforts!

Check out Patrick’s Blog:

Follow Patrick on Twitter:!/ximplosionx

Read the October Tech Student of the Month profile on Shashank Srinivas

Inspired by Patrick’s story? Become a Microsoft Student Insider and be a leader on your campus!

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