Alan Lai (photo credit: Alan Lai)

Alan Lai (photo credit: Alan Lai)

Former Renton Prep student grades college assignments at UW at the age of a high-school senior

Alan Lai studies computer science and software engineering at University of Washington Bothell.

Eighteen-year-old Alan Lai should be a senior in high school, but thanks to his motivation and passion for computer science he not only grades the assignments of his peers, he is also close to completing his undergraduate studies and earning a Bachelor’s degree.

Lai attributes his early interest in computer science and software engineering to some of experiences at Renton Prep Christian School. He said much of the course work and lessons during his high school education there focused on hands-on learning experience.

Lai said the school allowed him and classmates the opportunity to attend tech conferences, which is where his interest in computer science and software engineering was spurred.

Lai said he was looking for a creative field to pursue a career in and the limitless possibilities that coding provided peaked his interest.

“You can make anything you want,” he said. “There are endless possibilities.”

Part of what interests Lai about coding is not only that there are many different kinds of problems that can be solved with coding and software, but there are also many different ways to solve the problems themselves.

Lai said when he grades the coding scripts of other students at UW he often notices the unique solutions and methods in which people are able to achieve essentially the same result.

“It is always a fun challenge to work out a problem,” he said. “There is no better feeling than finding a solution,”.

Despite his early accelerated academic success, Lai said he would not describe himself as a “whiz kid.” Currently, he is focused on building his coding skills and “broadening his horizons,” as it relates to software engineering.

Recently, he has become interested in artificial intelligence software. He outlined a recent project in which he worked to create an algorithm to teach a computer to play Pac-Man all by itself.

“It is cool to be able to talk to a piece of technology that you made,” Lai said of certain kinds of artificial intelligence and machine learning software.

Lai is not yet sure of what kind of software engineering he would like to be involved in, but he did say that he would like to work on environmental issues and to help apply software solutions in the fight against climate change.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@bothell-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.bothell-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

Courtesy of the Washington State Department of Health
Inslee sets June 30 target for Washington to fully reopen

Meanwhile, fully vaccinated people can stop wearing masks in most places, the federal CDC said.

Matt Marshall, leader of the Washington Three Percenters gun rights group, addresses a crowd rallying for Second Amendment rights Jan. 17, 2020, at the state Capitol in Olympia. File photo
Open-carry of weapons now illegal at state Capitol, rallies

A new law bars people from carrying guns within 250 feet of a permitted demonstration.

(Pixabay.com)
As rates of stoned drivers increase, law enforcement face challenges

WSP trooper said a THC breathalyzer would be a “game changer” for law enforcement and courts.

E. coli. Photo courtesy of the Food and Drug Administration
Seven King County children sickened with E. coli

Seven children in King County have been infected with E. coli, a… Continue reading

Sound Publishing file photo
Remi Frederick, a Village Green employee, receives her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Jan. 26 in Federal Way.
County health officer looks to community immunity instead of herd immunity

Herd immunity may be unlikely to reach King County anytime soon, but… Continue reading

Governor Jay Inslee. Sound Publishing file photo
New laws will tax the rich, offer aid to low-income workers

Inslee signs bill creating capital gains tax; foes are challenging it in court as unconstitutional.

Washington state case count since March 2020. WA Governor's Office
Pandemic pause: King County remains in Phase 3

No Washington state counties will be rolling back their phase under the… Continue reading

Courtesy of Washington Military Department
Washington gets mobile earthquake alerts

Washington state will have its own earthquake early warning system on May… Continue reading

Photo courtesy of Northshore Fire Department Facebook
Sunday evening vehicle collision on Bothell Way proves fatal

Passenger in wreck was brought to the hostpital with serious injuries.

Most Read