Apple’s WWDC22 Swift Student Challenge winners help communities with coding

Every year, around Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, young people around the world use Swift Playgrounds to show off their coding skills. This year, as part of the Swift Student Challenge, they include submissions from new entrants Jones Mays II, Angelina Tsuboi and Josh Tint.

The three teenagers are harnessing the power of coding to create apps that help solve problems in their communities – and are among more than 350 students from 40 countries and regions who have been selected as winners of the 2022 challenge.

The Swift Student Challenge is just one part of WWDC22, with the keynote, events, labs and workshops available online and free to Apple’s global developer community of more than 30 million people. And when programming begins on June 6, Mays, Tsuboi, and Tint will be among those tuning in to the latest technologies, tools, and frameworks to help them leverage their already impressive coding skills to create the next generation of games. breakthrough apps.

Jones Mays II created an app to help identify invasive species that was inspired by his grandfather.

When 17-year-old Jones Mays II designed his winning submission Swift Playgrounds, an app called Ivy, he found inspiration in his own roots.

“My grandfather had a garden that he loved, and he grew so much food that he just allowed people in the community to come in and take what they needed,” said Mays, who is on about to start his senior year of high school in Houston. , Texas. “Even though he couldn’t walk at the end of his life, he used to point and that’s where I planted the seeds for him. But we always had to try to get rid of the vine of kudzu – it was a constant fight.

That’s why Mays decided to create an app that honored her grandfather, who passed away a few years ago, by helping other gardeners identify and get rid of invasive plants like kudzu.

“I really enjoyed being able to create programs that could show off my creativity and passion in a fun and easy way,” Mays said. “Swift has been a big part of all of this. I discovered it about a year ago and love how easy it is to use.”

This summer, Jones will help others learn programming languages ​​like Swift.

“I will teach the next generation of students what it means to learn computer science,” Mays said. “Because I truly believe that when you are able to learn computer science, you can apply it to so many other areas.”

It’s no surprise for Mays that teaching has become part of his background – he comes from a long line of educators. They include his mother, brother and late grandfather, who Mays said would approve of the app created in his honor.

“He was a man of few words,” Mays said. “But I think he would be like, ‘Squirt, you did a good job.'”

Angelina Tsuboi is always looking for new ways to help her family and community with her coding and problem-solving skills.

When it comes to problem solving, 16-year-old Angelina Tsuboi, who lives in Redondo Beach, Calif., can’t choose just one.

In addition to her winning entry Swift Playgrounds which teaches the basics of CPR, she also helped build a prototype that monitors air quality, created a website to help search and rescue organizations and designed a school communication program that won the Congressional App Challenge in its district.

“Life is riddled with problems – everyone struggles with at least one thing,” Tsuboi said. “And programming filled me with that sense of hope. It allowed me to help identify issues that people in my community or my friends were facing and use my skills to help them.

The project closest to her heart is an app called Lilac, which she launched on the App Store in March.

“My mom is a single mom and she’s from Japan,” Tsuboi said. “When she came here she had language issues, so I created an app where you can find resources like childcare or housing or grant opportunities, and translators in the community. to help you connect with them.”

This sense of service permeates everything Tsuboi does and drives her to seek new projects to undertake.

“Helping others helps you stay humble and connected to your community,” Tsuboi said. “It makes the world more enjoyable and fills me with joy – I’m able to do at least one thing that helps ease the chaos in the world.”

Josh Tint aspires to use his love of linguistics and coding to alleviate bias in programming languages.

Josh Tint loves words. The 19-year-old from Tucson, Arizona has just completed his freshman year at Arizona State University and is focusing his studies on linguistics – specifically lavender linguistics, which is the study of language used by the community. LGBTQ+.

For its winning Swift Playgrounds, Tint designed an app that lets people who are wondering about their gender identity try out different pronouns.

“An algorithm will insert different pronouns into chunks of sample text,” Tint said. “You can skim through the sample text – left or right to indicate whether you like it or not – to get an idea if you think a certain gender pronoun matches your identity.”

The inspiration for the app came from Tint’s own journey.

“I’ve questioned my gender identity so I know there aren’t a lot of resources out there to help with that,” Tint said. “So I wanted to try and create a tool that I thought was more applicable to my experience and that could help others as well. I wanted my app to help tell a story.

Tint taught himself to code early in high school and designed an algorithm to dissect and construct poems. He used it to enter a poem in the school poetry contest – and won.

He has since taught Swift on his own and thinks it lends itself to his work in linguistics.

“I really like Swift’s natural language framework,” Tint said. “It’s really powerful and great for scripting – I’ve used it to build machine learning models to help analyze speech.”

Going forward, Tint wants to use his knowledge of linguistics and programming to design algorithms that help mitigate bias.

“Right now, a lot of the work done is only in a few languages, and that reflects the biases of the people who write it,” Tint said. “We should address these limitations and start building new models with more parameters and larger, more inclusive datasets. If we don’t include the stories of marginalized communities in these grassroots processes now, it will be very difficult to undo this damage later.

Apple is proud to support and nurture the next generation of developers, creators, and entrepreneurs through its annual WWDC student program. Over the past three decades, thousands of students have built successful careers in technology, founded corporate-backed startups, and created organizations focused on democratizing technology and innovation to build a better future.

/Public release. This material from the original organization/authors may be ad hoc in nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors.

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