Meet the six Canadian winners of Apple’s WWDC23 Swift Student Challenge

With Apple’s WWDC 2023 conference taking place this week, all eyes are on the tech giant and its new software and hardware reveals. In conjunction with WWDC, the company announced the winners of its 2023 Swift Student Challenge. A total of six Canadians won this year, with success stories coming from across the country.

As in other years, the Swift Student Challenge challenges student developers to compete for a one-year membership in the Apple Developer Program. Students are asked to design an interactive scene for the Apple Swift Playgrounds app that must be tested within three minutes. Of course, each scene is built in the Swift programming language.

Apple says the list of winners is more diverse than ever. Here’s a look at each of this year’s six Canadian winners, along with their interactive scenes:

Daniel Francis, 16

Francis is from Gatineau, Quebec and is studying Software Engineering at the University of Ottawa.

The app experience he created is aimed at helping people learn Swift, with drag-and-drop UI elements and its preview interface at the heart of it. “I wanted to create something for people who have never used a programming language and just want to learn SwiftUI without being overwhelmed with new syntax,” says Francis.

Francis got his first iPad at age 10, discovering Swift Playgrounds not long after. He quickly fell in love with coding, citing its similarity to his childhood enjoyment of Lego.

He says Swift is his favorite programming language because it’s easy to use and helps him create user interfaces using SwiftUI.

Francis plans to continue refining his submissions with the goal of having it on the App Store by the end of the summer.

Martin Maley, 23

Maylee is from Toronto, Ontario and is in her final year of Computer Engineering at Queen’s University. He is currently on an exchange program at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan.

Maley’s App Playground is an attempt to gamify breathing. The goal, he says, is to turn perception, often seen as a boring activity, into something enjoyable. The microphone detects breathing, allowing the player to control the object as it moves along the path. Inhaling and exhaling allows the player to avoid various obstacles.

Miley has always been interested in alternative forms of human-computer interaction. “I believe technology can and should enhance the human experience,” he says. Having first experimented with Swift five years ago, he used free online resources to learn the coding language.

Miley plans to continue to travel and continue to expand her worldview. He enjoyed his time in Tokyo and spent a lot of time learning Japanese. He has also been busy with side coding projects.

Ashish Selvaraj, 21:00

Selvarakj lives in Waterloo, Ontario and is studying Computer Science and Business Administration at the University of Waterloo.

Selvaraj’s application playground simulates the assembly experience with a small subset of real MiPS assembly commands. For those unaware, MIPS is a processor architecture in the same vein as ARM. He says the idea of ​​recruiting via smartphone is a neat idea he wanted to explore.

Selvaraj learned Swift and SwiftUI in January 2022. “I really enjoyed SwiftUI, I always find drag and drop UI builders very frustrating, and writing the interfaces in code was amazing,” he says.

Selvaraj has previously released a Sudoku app on the App Store and plans to continue working on releasing additional apps in the future.

John Seong, 7 p.m

Seong lives in Oakville, Ontario and is currently in his senior year of high school. After graduation, she plans to study Psychology with a minor in Computer Science at UC Irvine.

Seong’s application playground serves as an illustration of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle in quantum mechanics. Essentially, the Principle explains that electrons exist in a “cloud-like state” around the nucleus of an atom, rather than orbiting it the way a planet would orbit the Sun.

Song grew up watching WWDC events since 2012, starting at the age of eight. Growing up around technology, he has become a passionate coder over time. “I’ve always been interested in computer science because it’s a tool for me to express my thoughts and passions that are hard to put into words,” he says.

Seong has applied for a software engineering internship at Apple in Cupertino and plans to move to California in August.

Omar Sharar, 4:00 p.m

Sharar is a high school student living in Burnaby, British Columbia.

Sharar has created a mental health app that includes a book-like experience. It aims to educate the user about mental illness as well as how to maintain a healthy mindset. There are also deep breathing and journaling sections designed to relax and reflect on the day.

Sharar says he’s had a great experience with Swift, using it to build his app while also adding to his knowledge on the topic of mental health. “I’ve had a lot of experience with Swift, I find it’s a clean language that you can optimize to write simple-looking but efficient code,” he says.

Sharar plans to improve and release his app on the App Store. He also hopes to create a new app that “changes the way we interact with technology for teaching and learning.”

Thanh ‘Zoey’ Nguyen Vu, 22

Vu lives in Waterloo, Ontario and was born and raised in rural Vietnam. He is currently studying mathematics at the University of Waterloo.

Vu’s app playground seems to depict the peaceful and calm atmosphere of birds gracefully flying over a bright sunset. Soothing background music and smooth flow animation of birds are used to create a soothing environment.

Vu was inspired to create his app by a strong sense of nostalgia. “It stems from my childhood memories in Vietnam, where my brother and I would watch birds gracefully fly over rice paddies illuminated by sunset light,” he says.

Vu currently serves as an API Engineering Intern at LinkedIn. He is also an aspiring indie iOS game developer and hopes to channel his creativity through the App Store.

As always, it’s great to see Apple recognizing the work and talent of young Canadian students. The Swift programming language remains the preferred choice for many coders to use on both large and small projects.

For all of our WWDC 2023 content, follow this link.

Image credit: Apple

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