Kennesaw State University student Yemi Agesin is one of a small number of students from across the globe who was awarded Apple’s most prestigious scholarship, the 2023 Swift Student Challenge.
Every year, as part of its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple issues a challenge to students across the globe: create an original app playground using the Swift coding language.
This year, Apple increased the number of winners from the 350 awarded in previous years to 375 so even more students could be included in the event and recognized for their artistry and ingenuity. Winners received exclusive WWDC23 outerwear, AirPods Pro, a customized pin set, and one year of membership in the Apple Developer Program.
Agesin began coding in middle school, while at the same time playing shortstop on his school’s baseball team.
Coding, sometimes called computer programming, is how we communicate with computers. Code tells a computer what actions to take, and writing code is like creating a set of instructions.
“In middle school, I felt that power one day when my first language was Java Script and the first task was to get rid of pop-up windows in a web browser and all it took was one single line of code and it just felt so powerful,” he said. “I really recreated things that I face as a user, so now, I’m not just a user, I’m a creator. To hone my skills, whenever I have a concept or idea, I’d try to build it.”
The main things he normally builds, Agesin said, are games which involve a lot of math.
“It’s just really cool whenever I have a game idea, it’s like ‘let me go out there and make it’, especially if it’s not out there already, you can make it,” he said. “Most of the apps I’ve built are normally games or applications that help me study or help others study.
He also said the most fun thing he did for his scholarship submission was the tabletop baseball game.
“It was cool, but Math can be boring having to memorize all these formulas, but it was also really cool to have to use those same math concepts that we learned in high school to help build my game. For example, the unit circle is very confusing and scary, but it was very pivotal to how I built my game,” he said.
At the same time, Agesin said one of his biggest challenges he faced while getting into code was getting over the fear of not knowing everything and having to go out and learn it
“It’s not like you learn it all first and then you do it, it’s more like you must try to do it and learn as you go. That’s one of the things I struggled with the longest where I felt like I needed to memorize an entire list of code,” he said.
In his sophomore year at KSU, Agesin said, he built a discrete mathematics app, which combined Lo-Fi music with multiple choice quizzes and tests to help him study.
“This way I can practice quizzes and tests while also jamming out to music. I built either tools to help me and my peers or to entertain myself,” he said.
Inspired by his love for the sport, Agesin’s winning Swift submission is a game that explores the intricate and high-level strategies that go into a batter v. pitcher matchup, incorporating SpriteKit and SwiftUI.
SpriteKit is a powerful game development framework for creating 2D games on Apple platforms such as iOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS. SwiftUI is Apple’s brand-new framework for building user interfaces for iOS, tvOS, macOS, and watchOS.
While not working on his apps, Agesin’s studying computer science at Kennesaw State, and is a software engineering intern at an international sports technology organization.
Agesin said he feels “very lucky and blessed” to have won the scholarship.
“As soon as I heard the announcement, I was very giddy and grateful. When I found out, I was at work coding something, and I saw the email and immediately ran outside and there were a lot of emotions going through my head, mostly being grateful,” he said.
With this scholarship, Agesin said he wants to finish polishing the apps he submitted and put them on the app store.
He also said he wanted to apply for the scholarship the year prior but couldn’t because of scheduling conflicts with class.
“I just felt if I’m going to go out with my university, l need to go out with a bang and at least do it for a challenge that I loved from my hero company, Apple,” he said.
As far as his future goals after this, Agesin said he’s a filmmaker on the side and he wants to help other filmmakers produce and make movies faster.
“I want to essentially help filmmakers and blend filmmaking with technology more to allow them to produce and make movies faster,” he said. “An instance of this would be a new tool of technology called Augmented Reality (AR). As a filmmaker it would be nice to see what I want to impose or what I want to do in my film. I want to pre-visualize it and frame all of it on my iPhone. I plan on making an app that allows filmmakers to do that and hopefully starting a start-up with that.”
If Agesin could offer advice to his peers who may be interested in coding, he said the first thing is to “be patient with yourself”.
“I remember when I was younger, when you hear stories like Mark Zuckerberg or these coding geniuses, you just feel like you basically be a genius from the start, but it’s about being patient with yourself and knowing you want to start small and grow your skill,” he said.
Secondly, he said to “always try”.
“I didn’t think I was going to win this challenge but like I said, I decided to do it and I’m grateful I won’t. Always try,” he said.
Thirdly, he said to not get “too bogged up” in the more academic way of learning. While it’s great to learn from books, he said, before getting started, one must learn from “just doing it”.
For additional information about WWDC23, visit WWDC23 – Apple Developer.