By Arun Kumar
Palash Taneja, a Texas University student, drew on his own experience with illness to design pandemic simulator.
Palash Taneja, an Indian student, who designed a Swift playground that teaches coding while simulating how a pandemic like covid-19 moves through a population, is among Apple’s 350 Swift Student Challenge winners.
Taneja, 19, who grew up in New Delhi, India and other winners were chosen based on their original Swift playground submission, part of Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) student challenge, Apple announced Tuesday.
Taneja, who just finished his freshman year at the University of Texas at Austin, created his Swift Student Challenge submission against the backdrop of covid-19.
His Swift playground also shows how precautions such as social distancing and masks can help slow infection rates.He created it to help educate young people, after he saw others not taking warnings seriously.
Four years ago, Taneja contracted a severe case of dengue fever, a mosquito-borne virus that left him hospitalized.
“That whole experience of two to three months of suffering — I think that really inspired me to learn programming and to use it as a problem-solving tool,” says Taneja as cited by Apple.
He went on to create a web-based tool that uses machine learning to predict how mosquito-borne diseases like dengue fever would spread.
Before he left for college in the US, he created a program that translates popular online education videos into roughly 40 languages, so that children who don’t have physical access to quality education can learn on the web.
Taneja is also passionate about education. In India, while still a teenager himself, he volunteered teaching English and math at a school for students whose families couldn’t afford to pay tuition.
“I really enjoy working with children, and I think education is one of the things that can create the biggest impact in someone’s life,” says Taneja, “especially someone in a developing country.”
The winners of the challenge, which recognizes and celebrates the next generation of coders and creators, from 41 countries and regions will also be joining the Apple 2020 WWDC when it kicks off on June 22 in a new virtual format,
A global community of 23 million developers too will have the opportunity to join from around the world for free through the Apple Developer app and the Apple Developer website.
Now in its 31st year, WWDC20 will bring together the largest group of innovators and entrepreneurs ever assembled to connect, share, and create, Apple said.
For the first time ever, there will be a special collection of curated sessions perfect for budding coders and designers, and daily Swift Playgrounds challenges that anyone can participate in and enjoy, it said.