• Brilliant Labs Magazine/ Photo by Daniel Frank

A conversation with grade 10 Woodstock High School Student Andy Lee.


When did you first develop an interest in technology, then coding?

I’ve had an interest in technology for as long as I can remember. Ever since I was little, my father worked for IT companies, and I suppose it naturally rubbed off on me too. During my elementary years, I was also a huge fan of video games, which naturally led me to learn how to use the computer sufficiently. From then on, I extended my interests into computers, phones, programming, and entrepreneurship. With respect to coding, I gained interest after working on a science fair project in grade 7. I tried to study Python from a book, but

quickly moved on to taking online lectures from universities on YouTube. I currently know how to program in Python, Java, Visual BASIC, Swift, and a little bit of Ruby.

Please describe a project you are currently working on that involves coding and what inspired you to work on this project? I am currently working on developing an app for the Apple App Store using Swift. The app is for high school students taking math courses. Being a high school student myself, I quickly ran into problems regarding different types of functions. While I can’t give too much away about the app, I proposed my idea to Brilliant Labs who were generous enough to sponsor funding for me to develop the app. The app works with

different types of functions and its properties to assemble a portable function toolkit on your phone. For now, I am only working on the iOS version of the app.

What challenges have you experienced with code while working on this project? How did you resolve it? Programming an app is significantly different than programming a computer program: you have to design EVERYTHING from the logic to the interface. I was pretty good at programming the logical structure of the app, but when it came down to creating the graphical aspects, I struggled with it a lot. Even something as simple as putting a label or text box on the screen is actually very complicated. Since Apple devices come in different screen sizes, not every screen has the same measurements (aspect ratio). And the key is to make every graphical object proportionate to each other, regardless of screen size and location. Yeah… it usually takes me a lot of math to figure those out.

Tell us about a funny story that happened to you during a project that included coding.

One funny (more aggravating than funny) thing that happened during coding took place in school. One of the courses I am taking this semester is Computer Science 120, an online course where students learn how to program in Java using nothing but Notepad. One of the assignments was to create a program in which the user would enter ten numbers in order and the program would output the numbers in reverse order, fairly straightforward. Having had experience with Java prior to taking the course, I finished writing the program in ten minutes, but the program wouldn’t compile. I didn’t understand why. I checked it over multiple times for syntax errors, but I couldn’t find any errors those 30 lines. Upon debugging for two DAYS, I found out that all I was missing was a bracket to close off the main method… I learned not to use Notepad after that “incident”.

If you could build a time machine to visit 2037, what would you see? What will you be doing?

Hmm… I think I see myself as an entrepreneur in the future. I want to move to Silicon Valley, where the newest tech is being developed. I want to be in the action, in the most technologically advanced sector of the world. I don’t quite know what I’ll be doing… It’s hard to predict with these things, especially in an industry that sees rapid changes on a daily basis, but I think it’s very interesting how, in today’s world, just one person can make a huge difference in how the world works. Plus, the weather is a lot nicer in California too!

Do you have any advice for someone starting to learn to code?

Start small. Set small and incremental accomplishments. Have a LOT of patience, it can be frustrating sometimes, know that programming is a skill that can take years to truly master. Don’t be discouraged. Most importantly, make sure to practice daily!

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