Teen Developers – Micah Benn

Teen Developers   Micah Benn

Micah’s Workspace

Hey, folks! Sorry this week’s interview is a little late. I had a bug with the scheduled publishing, but it’s all good now!

Could you start by telling me a little about yourself?

Of course! Let’s see, where to start. I’m Micah Benn, a Computer Science major at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. I’ve been playing piano since six years old; other interests I have include photography and videography. I’m also a fan of Taylor Swift.

I understand you’re currently majoring in computer sciences at Pepperdine. How has that been?

Incredible! I don’t regret my choosing to study here. Because I highly regard education, I wanted to attend a university where my peers did the same. Also, I yearned to be in an environment where I would be constantly challenged. So, I made it a priority to attend a university with a high selectivity rate. And now I’m here!

The student-faculty ratio here is 13:1, and nearly seventy percent of our classes have fewer than twenty students. The professors here also have official office hours, where we students can come in and receive one-on-one help with our work and/or personal projects. As a CS major, these are a huge benefit to me- for example, when I want to take a shot at learning future material but need guidance, I’m free to meet with my professor. I can’t wait for my classes next semester when I’ll be doing more of what I don’t know.

Also, having the opportunity everyday to code while literally overlooking the Pacific Ocean is overwhelming; every time I do it, I think of the future of humanity which in turn gives me the motivation and ideas I need in programming.

Our entrepreneurial spirit is strong, too! The founder of eHarmony came here, and we’re one of the top ten on Forbes’ list of America’s Most Entrepreneurial Universities. Being a CS major in an entrepreneurial environment creates an environment that unites the unique characteristics of the two fields- in an environment such as this, the possibilities to grow are even more endless, so to speak.

How old were you when you first began coding? (If it wasn’t first) How long after that did you start with Objective-C?

I first began coding at age thirteen, beginning in wiki markup. This introduced me to the logic of programming, providing the fundamentals I needed to understand other programming languages. Sometime later on (I forget when), my cousin showed me how he had created a website by simply typing HTML in TextEdit and saving it with the ‘.html’ extension then opening it in Safari. This fascinated me! He and I, along with my brother, then began a small social network which was basically a clone of Facebook. This was when I began programming in HTML, CSS, and PHP; a couple years later, I began programming in JavaScript, NodeJS, jQuery, and a bit of Python.

At age fourteen, nearly a year after I touched my first line of code, I began programming in Objective-C. I’d have to say that my brother helped start me on this. Around this time, the iPad 2 was released. Instead of pitching in with my brother to help pay for the Apple Developer license and the required upgrade to Snow Leopard to run Xcode, I decided to buy the iPad. However after seeing my brother learn Objective-C, both the unknown world of this new language and the beauty of Xcode drew me in. I eventually began learning. I used YouTube at first, then played around with sample code. Once I learned the logic of it, I was able to independently write code in 
Objective-C. After reaching a compromise with my brother to make up for my not pitching in, I was able to upload my first app to the App Store through the license he purchased.

You made a game, Flöcle, that was featured by Apple in the puzzle games section. Have you made apps other than games? If so, was making the game harder than previous projects?

Yep! I’ve made three other apps besides this game; two are not on the App Store anymore because they were under different account. However, the other one that is on the App Store is called ‘Readings’, which is a Wikipedia client for iOS. Yes, making the game was somewhat harder than previous projects because there are certain things that are found in games that aren’t found in, say, productivity apps. For example, in games, the developer adds the core content to determine the usefulness of the app, whereas in a productivity app, the user adds that unique content which determines the usefulness of the app.

Are you working on any projects right now? Or is school taking most of your time?

Absolutely, I definitely am! The environment here keeps motivating me to keep creating things, as well as to keep dreaming up new ideas. I’m currently working on two major updates for both of my apps. Also, I’m planning on helping to start a yearly keynote for Pepperdine computer science students to showcase their new ideas and/or projects, since a few other majors have events of their own. Although school is taking up the majority of my time, I do find pieces of time to work on these endeavors.

Anything else you’d like to add?

If you really enjoy doing what you do, then do it- don’t worry about how well it pays, the availability of jobs in that field, etc. That passion was instilled in you so that you might help advance humanity. Each one of us was born with a puzzle piece; that piece is to be contributed to the grand puzzle which is humanity. Don’t work to simply maintain humanity; work to advance it.

As always, feel free to contact Kaleb if you’d like to be featured. Posts come out Thursday mornings every two weeks.

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