I can’t remember exactly what I was doing when I was nine-years old, but I’m pretty sure it involved a scraped knee, or trying to jump something on my bike. I’m also fairly certain that I wasn’t preparing to attend one of the largest developers conferences in the world!
Nine-year-old developer Anvitha Vijay already has already created two iOS apps. She began her journey two years ago, when she had the dream of building a mobile app. She knew she couldn’t afford to hire a developers to create it for her, so she spent a year viewing free programming tutorials on the web, and then built the app herself!
“Coding was so challenging,” Vijay said, now two years older. “But I’m so glad I stuck with it.”
Anvitha, who resides in Australia, is fulfilling a dream that developers much older than her never have, she’s attending Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC 2016), which kicks off on Monday.
Vijay is attending WWDC as part of Apple’s scholarship program, which gives hundreds of free tickets to developers from around the world who are creating apps for Apple devices. This year’s group of recipients saw the most winners under the age of 18, and a more diverse crowd than years past. Out of 350 recipients, 120 of the lucky winners are students under the age of 18. Submissions increased by 215% more than doubled from organizations focused on science, technology, engineering, and math.
The number of women who applied for a WWDC scholarship tripled this year, and 22% of 2016 scholarship winners are women, also up from last year.
In the past, WWDC, like most tech conferences of its kind, has been attended mostly by white and Asian males. Apple, and other tech companies, have been working to change that.
Coalition for Queens, a nonprofit organization that works to help teach technical skills to Queens residents in New York City, is sending four aspiring developers to WWDC this your through the program, said founder Jukay Hsu, compared to two participants last year. Hsu said all the attendees are women and or people of color.
Vijay says her apps were inspired by her younger sister, who at the time was a toddler, learning to talk and identify animals. Vijay created the Smartkins Animals app, which uses sounds, and flashcards to help teach children 100 different animals’ names and sounds. She then proceeded to create a second app for iOS that helps kids learn colors.
Vijay sounds older than her years when she describes the app development process:
“Turning an idea for an app involves a lot of hard work,” Vijay explained. “There are so many components to building an app, including prototyping, design and wireframing, user interface design and then coding and testing.”
Vijay’s next app, now in development, will help kids her age set goals. Speaking of goals, Vijay will travel thousands of miles from her hometown in Melbourne, Australia to the Bay Area with her parents and sister, and will check off at least one personal goals off her own list.
“It’s my dream to go to WWDC and meet Tim Cook,” Vjay said.