My Swift Student Challenge Journey!

A Dream Come True

Manas Malla

June 17 2020

8 min read



When the Apple 2020 Worldwide Developers Conference kicks off on June 22 in a new virtual format, a global community of 23 million developers will have the opportunity to join from around the world for free through the Apple Developer app and the Apple Developer website. Now in its 31st year, WWDC20 will bring together the largest group of innovators and entrepreneurs ever assembled to connect, share, and create.

Among them will be 350 Swift Student Challenge winners from 41 different countries and regions. The students were chosen based on their original Swift playground submission, part of Apple’s annual WWDC student challenge, which recognizes and celebrates the next generation of coders and creators.

“Make some tech and do a whole lot of good along the way.”
~ Sofia Ongele

Just Another Small Intro About Me Since my early childhood, I had a great fascination for computers and was curious all the time. Once, during my preschool in the US, as a part of our computer lab class, we were asked to, as normal, color a picture in a coloring software. I had colored it and was soon about to finish when I saw a button that looked pretty much like the save button, so I thought I could click on it and save it to show it to my mom at home.

But, unfortunately, it was the print button and since I didn’t see the save dialog opening, I kept pressing it several times. I started to hear some mechanical sound but couldn't comprehend where it was coming from. But, my teacher exactly knew what was hapening as soon as she heard the sound. She came to me and explained what I just did. Then, did it all start, my long voyage on this endless journey with technology by playing around, googling it up and experimentation, finally realizing the vast possibilities technology had. That day I was sure of what I was to become.

Returning back from the US, I joined in my 2nd grade in Visakha Valley School and glancing through my computer textbook made me feel, it was way below the standard, so I mostly used to learn from the internet - learning how to google stuff - and soon we learned about programming languages in grade 3. Then when we were playing around with Logo and Turtle, I was like “What! We just write this code to draw a line ...?” And then I started to question“How can we write apps like the ones which we use in daily-life on our phones and computers”, then I started googling, asking my relatives and going haywire!

Finally, I got to know that I needed to learn other languages like Java, Swift, VisualBasic, C++, Python and XML to make them. Soon, I got to know of Rob Percival sir courses on Udemy, then I persuaded my parents to buy me the courses and I was even awarded certification for it by the Cambridge Certification Authority.Exploring the Appleverse Throughout the course, he used the macOS Operating System. Who can't resist but to fall in love with the operating system, so I persuaded my parents to get me an iMac. Bearing to all the effort and the prize money I received in a national-level competition, I finally bought an iMac.

Also, I had this craze of working with the latest OS available, and once, while searching about the latest in macOS, I stumbled upon the WWDC annual developer conference. Without a second though, I watched it in a sitting and that was how I got to know about WWDC Scholarship!

I first participated in the year 2019 after learning all the fundamentals of the Swift language and writing few apps to get the feel of coding. Sadly, I was rejected and so I continuously followed the Apple developer website this year. What could stop me from being eagerly waiting for the WWDC Scholarship 2020 and being tensed whether will it be hosted or not in such a global crisis situation that clouded us.

Apple’s Swift Student Challenge 2020! Still keeping hope I waited, improving my skills and at last, I did receive an email invitation for Apple’s Swift Student Challenge, so I thought it would be a bit different this year. I participated especially for the reason that I could interact with all the other coding intellectuals out there and have an opportunity to earn the Apple Developer Membership on my own stand. Also, the fact of bearing the tag of being an ‘Apple Swift Student Challenge’ winner itself gives me extreme pleasure, atleast the dream of being one did!

Seeing the situation that the novel coronavirus 2019 has created around me, made me question myself if I, as a student and developer could help in this global crisis and challenging time. Then, did an idea breach into my head: an experience that could bring awareness to people about the precautions, preventions and things to protect ourselves from COVID19 as well as preserve and enrich our health in a playful and interactive way for everyone.

We mainly tried to focus our interactive playgroundbook to helps kids get to know about coronavirus easily while having fun. We started with the basic Swift Playgrounds Author template and started to build a basic game. Soon, stage by stage, step by step, we improvised and now it builds upon the SpriteKit, PlaygroundSupport, UIKit, Foundation, BookCore. It has been coded in Xcode and been made for Swift Playground 3.3 on the iPad.

We designed assets with inspiration from assets available online using Photoshop and used few assets from shutterstock and clipart libraries which we felt were bit difficult to design. We tested the app on iPad Air 2 and were elated upon successfully building my first Swift Playgroundbook. I'd thank Apple for such a wonderful opportunity and for providing the tools required to build this PlaygroundBook.

My feeling about winning Swift Student Challenge? I was eagerly waiting the whole night for the results, felt tensed and was ruminating all night about the result which would be declared that night and thus couldn’t get sleep.

I woke up early that morning, at about 4 A.M. and to my surprise, I did receive the acceptance email. I checked twice and thrice as I couldn't digest nor confirm what my eyes were looking at and then was on cloud nine. It was the best moment of my whole life. I could never thank God enough and all the people who have sculptured me so that I could achieve this.

I was literally on cloud nine as it was a dream come true!

Going forward, what I aspire Going forward, I feel extreme responsibility to direct my coding skill to make apps useful and used by all and the Swift Student Challenge has given me the opportunity and the platform to reach out to the public and express my thoughts and ideas to the world. I've gained extreme inspiration from Apple's founder Steve Jobsafter reading his biography and book 'Steve Jobs' and The Steve Jobs Way.

His perfectionism, simplicity, determination, looking even into the most minute detail and his user-perspective really blew my mind and to such an extent that I even performed a small skit about his life's journey at school.

Progressing, winning this challenge has given me a tremendous boost and motivation to make more apps and to reach my goal of one day, coming up on stage and speaking on the WWDC stage as CEO. Trivia: I wish to give the Keynote there on the WWDC Keynote Stage!

Yes, I am working on a few cross-platform apps like 'BeCoronaReady', 'EcoFun', and 'Memories'. Seeing the vast opportunity that technology offers to be able to shape the world, I thought of translating my playground, Be Corona Ready, to an interactive game that helps to bring awareness regarding the various prevention methods to be taken to stay safe from nCOVID19 and be responsible as given by the World Health Organisation (WHO)!

EcoFun is an app for solving climate change — Nourish our Blue & Green Planet - by helping us measure our carbon footprint, encourage us to grow trees and be eco friendly as we, humans gifted with enormous potential have the responsibility to strive together to stop global climate issues, generated by our actions.

Memories is a social media app which I believe can help in recollecting our golden memories in our life and promoting AI as a cure people’s mental health.

What are you looking forward from WWDC ’20?
" We can't get through a single day without having an impact on the world around us. What we do makes a difference and a step in being the change we want to see in the world. "

And I believe that WWDC is such a platform which guides us in developing stuff to make such changes in the world. I hope it will also be a fun day getting to chat and interact with so many of our incredible Swift Student Challenge winners and hearing their stories! It’s going to be a fantastic week! Also, I can’t wait to look forward about the latest updates and features that Apple has in store for us.

Concluding, I am very happy that Apple supports and nurtures the next generation of developers through its annual WWDC student program — and it’s just one of the many ways that WWDC20 is recognizing and celebrating coders and innovators of all ages and backgrounds. For the first time ever, there will be a special collection of curated sessions perfect for budding coders and designers, and daily Swift Playgrounds challenges that anyone can participate in and enjoy.

© 2023 Manas Malla

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