A MobileMakerEdu Student’s Experience at WWDC 2017

June 7, 2017

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By Guest Blogger, MobileMakersEdu Student, Gaby E.   

Last summer, I was a student in the high school Mobile Makers bootcamp.  Immersed in three weeks of intense Swift programming and navigating Xcode, I learned to love making mobile apps. I knew that iOS programming could be my avenue for affecting the world, but I didn’t realize all the opportunities that Mobile Makers opened for me – until winning a scholarship to WWDC.

Last month, I had the incredible experience of attending the Apple’s 2017 Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose as a scholarship winner. Only 350 out of the 6000+ developers won the coveted scholarship, which was a free ticket and lodging for WWDC. To get the scholarship, I had to write a Swift playground, which was something I was so familiar with after taking the Mobile Makers bootcamp.

On Sunday, June 4th, I waited in the long line to check in at WWDC 2017. Along with my badge and wristband, I got my WWDC jean jacket. The scholars then walked over to the Hammer Theater for the Scholarship WWDC orientation, where we learned about the Apple Pen. Afterwards, we all lined up to get a group photo, when none other than Tim Cook walked out to take pictures! Next, the scholars had the unique opportunity to browse Hammer Theater and talk with different Apple Engineers about their work, many of whom were from the Swift Playground team. We were also awarded with our own Apple TV developer kit.

The next morning was the keynote. Although many WWDC attendees get in line as early as 11:00 PM the previous day in order to get seating, the scholars were given special, reserved spots. At the keynote, Apple released all its new products, such as the HomePod. Later that day, during the State of Union, Apple announced all the new additions to Swift and Xcode. We then got to demo all the new Apple products. Such as its augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) features.

During the second day of the conference, Michelle Obama spoke in a special morning session! I was lucky to get a front row seat to her Q+A session with Lisa Jackson. She stressed the importance of diversity, which Apple clearly promoted, as this year’s conference had the largest percent of women attendees ever!

I then went to the WWDC Labs, where I had one-on-one help with the parts of my apps from the Apple engineers that coded the features themselves; at the iMessage Lab, I learned from a engineer on the iMessages team how to send back and forth special data on my iMessage app. During the lunch time talk, I heard NASA scientist Christine Darden speak, who was featured in the book Hidden Figures! Then, at the screening of the new TV show Planet of the Apps, I saw rapper Will.I.Am and the venture capitalists who were featured in the film. During the Wednesday sessions on Machine Learning (one of Apple’s new features announced during the keynote), I met the head of the Apple’s ML team as well as Craig Federighi, the SVP of Software Engineering on Apple’s Executive Board.

On Thursday, I had a one-on-one appointment with Apple’s Marketing and Business team, who told me how to market my apps and promote my business, and a one-on-one appointment with Apple’s UI Team the next day, who taught me the best design practices that are most intuitive to the user. At Thursday night’s Bash, the WWDC attendees were treated to great food, outdoor games, and an unforgettable concert by the Fall Out Boys.

Apple’s WWDC 17 was one of the best experiences of my life. I made new app-developing friends from the US, Canada, Australia, Switzerland, India, Vietnam, Ireland, and all over the world. But, I couldn’t have gotten there had I not taken the high school Mobile Makers bootcamp.