Creativity and Code to Make the World a Better Place

Ethan Gaskill

The following is a guest post from Ethan Gaskill, a sophomore at Lenape High School in Medford, NJ. He is interested in coding, track, all things Philadelphia and British musicians from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s.

Early last week, I was invited by Drexel University’s College of Computing and Informatics to attend Philly Codefest. I was excited to attend, as this would give me a more in-depth look at a great university in my home city, as well as being able to attend an exciting event in a field that I am interested in pursuing a career in. My interest in computer programming stems from a desire to use evolving technology to solve complex issues, and I was thrilled to observe that same desire on display in the various coding teams in attendance. Throughout the many different projects on display, there was one common denominator: the desire to create a product that impacts society in a positive way.

There were numerous groups working on projects to ensure that schools and other venues are safe from the threat of active shooters. The dedication, creativity, and seriousness applied to each challenge was extremely inspiring. It was evident that each group had carefully thought about their task and had explored every potential scenario in order to maximize the effectiveness of their app in keeping people safe. There were people focused on preparing responses to emergencies, on assisting first responders and on helping people escape dangerous scenarios. Each and every participant displayed meticulous attention to detail by approaching their task from every angle. Unfortunately, my friends and I are growing up in an age where the threat of an active shooter is something we need to worry about. However, it is reassuring to know that creativity and code can be combined to make user-friendly products that will help make schools safer places.

Another group that made an impression on me was working on a product designed to provide people with accessible and accurate information regarding their medication dosages. The app that they designed assembles information from multiple government sources about dosages of drugs ranging from common over-the-counter medications to prescription drugs for complex diseases. From there, they created a function for the user to input personal data to be used as a variable in calculating the user’s dosage. This group stood out because of their laser-like focus on providing a solution to an important, yet often overlooked, healthcare issue. Their thoughtfulness and dedication was particularly admirable.

My day at Philly Codefest made me realize that the skills I am learning in my computer science classes in high school, as well as those I hope to acquire in the near future, will enable me to make a positive impact in the lives of others. This excites me because I know that whatever I want to do in life, it’s important to me that I make the world a better place. I’m really glad that I had the opportunity to attend this unique event.