INTERVIEW: Canadian coding wunderkid, Pranav

This 14-year-old from Vancouver has made a non-profit app to help promote healthy lifestyles during COVID-19
pranav Pranav uses computer languages to create brand new programs. (Courtesy of Pranav)


Coding is magic. Maybe not exactly magic, but it certainly can be used to do some magical things.

When you code, you use computer language to get devices to do certain things, such as programs or tasks. And if you're really good at it—as a lot of young people are—you can create something brand new that does everything from entertain and amuse to solve problems and offer aid!

Pranav is one of those awesome young coders. This 14-year-old from Vancouver has already done so much: He's worked on an app for Indian non-profit organization Manavata; won a scholarship at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in 2019; and even helped fellow students get into coding.

We spoke with this Canadian prodigy and found out why he loves coding so much and what his plans are for the future.

Catching up with a coder

OWLconnected: How did you first get involved in coding?

Pranav: I was first exposed to programming through my mother, who is still working in the field. I was around 6 years old, and at the time, I was fascinated by how writing things could make things on the computer happen. My mom showed me how to create a webpage or animations.

After a few years, I got introduced to Python [a coding language] and started working on programs there. During this time (age 10-12), I was quite involved and interested in Apple products. When I was 13, I learned about Swift coding, Apple’s programming language to make apps, and their Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). I decided to learn how to program apps for the iOS platform [that's the system that powers Apple's tablets and smartphones].

OC: What was your first successful coding project?

P: I think that would be the submission I created in 2019 for WWDC Scholarship from Apple, which got accepted. It was an augmented reality (or AR, which brings an interactive experience into the real-world through an app on iPhone or iPad) simulation. It was the first time I felt that I thought of a great idea on my own, and was able to bring it to fruition. I was so encapsulated in working on the project and it was so exciting, due to it including new and unfamiliar technologies like AR.

pranav

Pranav was mentioned in a tweet by Apple CEO Tim Cook back in 2019. (Courtesy of Pranav)

OC: How did you get hooked up with making Manavata's healthy lifestyle app?

P: After receiving the WWDC scholarship in 2019, I received a lot more knowledge and opportunities. One of these opportunities included my father’s colleague at work reaching out to me about the Manavata app. The colleague is the head of the chapter in the United States, and he worked on a lot of projects within the organization, one of those being the app to help users.

OC: Did you design the app all by yourself?

P: The app was designed by me and my father’s colleague. There was also guidance and feedback provided by numerous other volunteers of Manavata, all of which was very helpful to the development of the app. I was the lead and sole developer of the app itself though, as I was the only one on the team with experience in iOS app development for iPhone and iPad.

OC: Pretend I'm someone who knows nothing at all about coding. How would you describe it to me?

P: I tend to think of coding as a means of bringing ideas into fruition. I focus on making iOS applications, but coding can be applied almost anywhere. It enables people to do things that we thought were never possible in the past.

OC: What are some unexpected things that you can do with coding?

P: Coding can be applied literally everywhere. It’s part of the healthcare system because of data analysis on patients and robotics to perform more precise operations. It helps traffic systems by utilizing artificial intelligence to track cars and stop crashes. It is improving criminology through face recognition and the forensics department. All of these aspects are built and maintained through coding.

OC: What is the best way for a young person interested in coding to get a start?

P: I think the best way to get started would be through Apple’s Swift Playgrounds app, which is free on iPad or Mac. As accessible as it is, it is still very powerful and is a tool that I still use today. It allows a lot simpler usability, to actually start coding and building projects. But, you can still create projects using any sort of technology and to any extent.

OC: Finish this statement: In ten years, you will be…

A: …an entrepreneur creating products for the betterment of mankind.

While I do want to work for Apple and work on a number of their amazing products, I would also like to explore my own impactful projects and reveal them to the world as well.

 

Thanks so much Pranav. Do you have any stories about your own coding adventures? Tell us about them in the comments!


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