Q&A With Next-Generation Hackers
What happens when you lock a whole lot of students in a room with a whole lot of laptops for 24 hours? Non-stop hacking, of course. Pablos Holman, ethical hacker and self-proclaimed futurist, would approve.
StudentRND, a Seattle-based nonprofit organization, wants more youth to pursue tech. As part of its mission to get kids building technologies, StudentRND designed CodeDay — a 24 hour “lock-in” that gives students the time and focus they need to start building projects they care about.
CodeDay happens across the U.S., from Seattle to New York. Intellectual Ventures caught up with a team from New York to learn about their CodeDay experience. Known as the YouPlay Radio team, these five students pitched an idea for an enhanced music discovery and sharing platform, and within a day they had the beginnings of a new software app that helps listeners find and stream an array of original, covered, and remixed songs on YouTube.
Here’s the YouPlay Radio team, Nishil Shah, Rohith Varanasi, Akash Srinagesh, John Bogil, and Paul Terry, on their CodeDay experience:
Why did you choose to get involved with Code Day?
We went to HackRU, a collegiate hackathon hosted by Rutgers University and we loved it! We wanted to attend another hackathon, but the collegiate season was, sadly, over. Then we heard about CodeDay and we jumped at the idea of another hackathon. Originally, we weren’t too familiar with StudentRND and their work. However, once we attended CodeDay we figured out that StudentRND is all about helping youth build awesome tech. We really appreciate the work they do.
What was CodeDay like?
We met so many students with similar passions. Everyone was interested and excited to build something new. We all share a love for programming and it was great to see that. It was really challenging because we had to step out of our comfort-zones. Our team, which created YouPlay, had members who did not previously know each other. But that didn’t stop us from working together and achieving something great.
What problem did your team solve?
We wanted to build a music experience for users without ads interrupting them every two minutes. We decided that by using YouTube as a source for our content, we were able to harness user-created remixes, covers, and renditions of awesome music. We developed the YouPlay Radio app to let users stream an endless supply of music.
Where do you hope this experience leads you?
There’s only one way: forward. We want to continue making awesome hacks and continue attending more hackathons!
Any tips for aspiring programmers?
The only way to get better at doing what you love is actually doing it. The more you work on things you like, the better you will get.
Who inspires you?
One of our favorite inventors is Mark Zuckerberg. He was able to create such a successful website at so young. It inspires us to continue inventing, and hopefully we, too, can invent something huge that will have an impact on the world. At the moment we do not have a single mentor. We mostly rely on each other and the student community to gather our information, and we believe this is one of the best ways to learn.
As a company invested in tomorrow’s inventors, Intellectual Ventures supports StudentRND and other organizations that encourage youth to code, build, and invent. Check out the app that the YouPlay Radio team built at youplayfm.com. To learn how you can support the next generation of inventors or attend the next CodeDay, visit studentrnd.org.