Coding can be intimidating, but these students proved that it can be fun

May 12, 2020

Two WWDC scholarship winners share their experiences in coding.

Last week, Apple announced that WWDC20 will take place in an online-only format that kicks off on June 22nd. Also announced is the WWDC Swift Student Challenge where Apple is inviting student developers to showcase their coding skills using Swift Playgrounds.

For someone who’s not familiar with coding, the experience can probably be intimidating and at times, confusing. But that’s just the initial hurdle, coding isn’t as hard as it seems and with apps like Swift Playgrounds kids can easily harness their skills in coding. Who knows, the app that you make could soon find its way to millions of iOS devices everywhere.

Two Egyptian students recently shared their thoughts on the world of coding. Mohamed Salah and Youssef Gamal were previous winners of the WWDC scholarship program. They’ve just shared their experiences in coding and emphasized why it is important for kids to learn how to code.

18-year-old Saudi-born Egyptian Mohamed Saleh said that his interest in programming started when he was 10. A friend of his, who already is a website enthusiast, convinced him to try programming and guided him to the right path. At the moment, Mohamed has three apps on the App Store: a fun game called ‘Flash’, an app that detects the nearest bathroom called ‘Siphon’ and a radar-detection app called ‘Saher’ that is currently one of the top navigation apps in Saudi Arabia. He learned coding only through books and documents, and his obsession with how websites work is what fueled his drive to make his own app.

Mohamed said that kids should learn programming at an early age, where he believes it will be needed in the future. “I truly believe a lot of the problems we are facing today can be solved by giving a programmer a cup of coffee and a MacBook,” he said in an interview.

He also praised the Swift Student Challenge from Apple and said that since most kids and students are now at home, they can take advantage of learning resources offered by Swift Playground. He adds that even if coding looks challenging, it can be very fun and rewarding as well.

Mohamed also gave some advice to students who want to learn how to code:

Make Things: If you want to be a good software developer you need to always apply what you are learning to your own software. 

Don’t make it difficult: If you find a specific IDE easier than another use the easier one. Concentrate on programming, not the noise around it.

Break it down: This is the most essential skill a programmer can have. You don’t have one big problem, you have a hundred small ones.

Don’t get bogged down in languages: As a beginner, it’s easy to see the language as crucial, but it’s not. Most of the languages are basically the same in principle, and it is only the details that change. I encourage any beginner to learn Swift first.

Be kind to yourself: Programming is hard, you’ll make mistakes, you’ll struggle. That’s fine, everyone does, don’t feel bad about it.

He ended by saying to simply be creative, and that is where your biggest motivation will come from.

Youssef Gamal started coding at the age of 13.

20-year-old Youssef Gamal started coding at the age of 13 when he first read a coding book and now has two apps available on the App Store. One of these apps is ‘Secpix’ that allows you to create secret messages hidden within an image.

Once graduating from high school, Youssef and his classmate started a session about software development to help inspire and encourage students to learn coding through Swift Playgrounds. Youssef believes that apps exist as a way to make lives easier, and has somehow impacted the way we live. He also adds that there are still some apps that haven’t been made which could solve a diverse set of problems, which is why he is pushing students to participate in the Swift Student Challenge.

Youssef also praised Apple for its efforts in helping the younger generation on learning how to code. “Swift is a truly simple and easy language that encourages young age students and beginners to experiment and learn how to code. The fact that we are able to use our iPad to write Swift language with the Swift Playgrounds app offers great convenience and has impacted how easy and quickly students learn to code,” he said.

Youssef’s only advice to students participating in the Swift Student Challenge is to come up with an idea that effectively demonstrates their interests – if you’re passionate about that idea, you can find a way to bring it to life.

Learn to code

  1. If you’re interested in joining the Swift Student Challenge, you can follow these five steps to help you get started and learn to code in seven days
  2. Read about Swift Playgrounds so you can discover how it can help you learn to code using Swift, the same programming language used to create apps for the App Store. 
  3. Download the Swift Playgrounds app available for iPad or Mac
  4. Fire up the first “playground” titled Learn to Code 1 and tackle each of the seven chapters one day at a time.
  5. Try to create an interactive scene in a Swift playground that can be experienced within three minutes.
  6. You can enter the Swift Student Challenge here anytime starting now through 11:59 p.m. PDT on May 17th. 
by Victor Philip Ortiz
Tech Enthusiast and Movie Buff. When he’s not busy playing with the latest games, Victor usually spends his time collecting Blu-rays and building his own movie library. As the Online Editor for T3 Middle East, he develops and writes content for which includes reviews, features, and videos in addition to managing its social media and web content.