Plugged into IT at a critical crossroad

JESSICA SUTTON
Last updated 12:00 05/06/2012
Fabian Cook
Leilani Hatch/FAIRFAX NZ
PASSION FOR PROGRAMMING: Tararua College's Fabian Cook hopes his android phone application will be used worldwide.

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This 16-year-old student is hoping his android phone application will soon be used around the world.

It was only three years ago that Fabian Cook learned to create computer programmes in his year-9 information and communications technology class, and since then his interest has been sparked.

Last year he was the runner-up in his age group for the annual New Zealand Bright Sparks competition – a competition for school students who have to develop a prototype using electronics, electrical engineering or programming – where he created an android phone application, called Log eBook, which lets students and teachers organise their school timetables.

The application took him about a year to create for the competition.

"I am slowly developing it during my spare time improving it in little ways. It sadly still isn't finished yet, but I hope to have it completely done by the end of the year," he said.

"I don't know where I get it from, but I am switched on when it comes to things like programming. It's like my mind is wired for it."

The idea for a timetable on a mobile phone came from one of his teachers, he said.

"I had previously brought an Android phone because my old phone was stolen, but I didn't realise the potential of what I could do with it. That night, I went home, jumped on the computer and got everything I needed to create and develop an application for her [teacher].

"I used a nice online tool developed by Google called App Inventor. With this I learned the basic skills about how an application worked. After a few days playing around with this, I thought I might as well try the real thing.

"The feeling you get when you create something from scratch, however, is nothing like I had ever felt. It gave me motivation to learn more, to create more and get known."

To get his name out there, Fabian is hoping his application will be some day used worldwide, but for now, he wants to encourage more people to get involved with computer programming.

"In life right now, my goal is to strengthen New Zealand's tech industry by getting as many young people, and older [people], into things like software and hardware.

"One way I want to do this is by showing them how to use an everyday tool like a cellphone as something extraordinary and useful."

He enjoys pulling electronic devices apart to see how they work, and to work out how he could recreate them.

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With a passion for programming, Fabian is also taking part in UCOL's Secondary Tertiary Alignment Resource (STAR) programme, where he is working towards a Cisco Certification which will allow him to create computer networks for businesses.

The STAR programme is designed to help year-11 to 13 students find the right career.

"I have always had a passion for computers in general, but my passion for Android development and software in general is greater. I have only ever had someone tell me how to program once, but since then, I have been on my own."

In this year's Bright Sparks competition, he wants to wow the judges with his new invention.

"This year I plan to blow them away by making it possible for people to interact with their high-powered Android and iOS [Apple] devices with low-level hardware.

"The goal is to get as many people creating exceptional applications while integrating them with real-life hardware which isn't seen very often on the market."

- Manawatu Standard

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