Indian students win Apple Swift Student Challenge


Apple’s WWDC 2020 keynote is set to take place next week on June 22, with Apple expected to reveal a number of exciting new products.

From groundbreaking MacBooks to new software updates for iPhones, there’s a lot of rumors hinting at what Tim Cook and co. are set to showcase at its yearly developer conference.

While Apple announced the date of the WWDC 2020, about a month ago, it also announced about the Swift Student Challenge – an opportunity for student developers can showcase their love of coding by creating their own Swift playground. And the winners will receive a WWDC20 jacket and pin set.

Now, the results are out. Apple has picked 350 winners from 41 different countries and regions. Among them, several Indian-origin students have made it to the achievers’ list.

Palash Taneja, a 19-year-old student from New Delhi, created a Swift Playground that teaches coding while simulating how a pandemic moves through a population, showing how precautions such as social distancing and masks can help slow infection rates.

Taneja just finished his freshman year at the University of Texas, and has battled a severe case of dengue in the past. He says that the disease inspired him to learn to program. “That whole experience of two to three months of suffering — I think that really inspired me to learn to program and to use it as a problem-solving tool,” Taneja elaborated in Apple’s blog.

The Swift Playground was created against the backdrop of COVID-19 and it looks to help educate young people about the benefits of social distancing and masks.

Dave Jha, another Indian origin student of Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, also won the award for creating a COVID-19 simulator that showed the benefits of social distancing.

His simulator showed people represented by small dots, and infected people were shown as red dots. The COVID-19 social distancing simulator has the ability to toggle speed, the number of people, asymptomatic conditions, social distancing, forced distancing, and a game mode.

Jha, who also intends on minoring in Entrepreneurship, has worked on several other projects. One of his projects includes PPE4NYC, which was developed to provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) during the coronavirus pandemic. The website attracted over USD 5,000 in donations and hundreds of masks to the local police and hospitals.

Including these two there were many other students from India who had won the challenge namely Parikshith Vallish and Muhammed Sahil Arayakandy from Bengaluru, Karnataka; Manas Malla from Vizag, Andhra Pradesh; and Hariharan Murugesan from Chennai, Tamilnadu.