#TechTeen – Patrick Balestra

Our second featured #TechTeen is 19-year old Patrick Balestra. He started coding iOS apps when he was 14, and his passion for coding recently led him to start studying Informatics at the Università della Svizzera italiana in Switzerland.

You can follow him on twitter at @BalestraPatrick.

How did you first become involved with coding and technology?

I was really interested in Apple’s products when I was younger. I quickly realized the power of apps and games when the App Store was released. When I bought the second generation iPad as my first iOS device and downloaded some games and useful apps,  I began to wonder who created those apps and how. I started searching for resources and tutorials on the internet. Then, I bought a Mac because I realized I needed it to learn and play around with its  development tools.

I published my first game in the App Store after months of reading many online tutorials and watching countless hours of Youtube tutorials.

I love learning new things everyday and the fact that technology progresses so fast that you wake up in the morning and there is already a new thing to learn, is amazing to me! 


Have you created any apps? If so, tell us about it!

I started by creating games for iPhone and iPad a few years ago and I’m now developing utility apps for Apple devices.

My first app was meant to help people remember emergency phone numbers because the numbers are different in almost every country. If you find yourself in an emergency while being in a foreign country and do not know the correct number, you can be in big trouble. Even if you know the exact number and what to do, there is always the possibility that panic might cause you more trouble. This is when an app for emergency phone numbers can help. I started this project because I wanted to help people in emergency situations.

First, I started by collecting the different numbers of each country and then looking for the resources on the internet to help me with the technical development. The project took me a few months. Now that I think about it, it was really simple!

My recent app is named Notes for Watch and it’s an app for the Apple Watch.  At the time of the app development, the Apple Watch was a new device so there were not many resources to learn about the platform. My solution was to try and explore with my skills the few resources available online in order to develop my own app for the Apple Watch.


What programming languages are you familiar with?

I am familiar with Objective-C and Swift, which are the main programming languages used to create applications for Apple’s platforms. I have experience with HTML, CSS and Javascript, which are useful to create web pages.

It’s basically impossible to master a programming language because there is always a new cool use or feature every day so it’s important to keep learning!  With time, I’d like to learn more about Ruby and Scala but it’s not always easy to find the time. I’d also like to learn more about back-end development so that I can build servers and databases for my own apps.


What is it that you enjoy about programming?

If I have an idea for a product, I can write code so that my idea becomes a reality. I can also share my product with the world and then see people enjoy a product that I’ve built.

Seeing how something that you’ve created make an impact on the world and on the people is truly an amazing thing! 


Do you see yourself building a career field in the tech field?

I see myself working in the tech field for sure. I simply love writing code. I think it would be a nice experience for one of the big companies in the industry like Apple or Google.

However, I would also like to experience working in a smaller company in order to make a bigger impact.


Why do you think students should learn how to code?

If we think about it, basically everything we do revolves around software. Building software is amazing because you can make your ideas a reality. By learning how to code, you can participate in shaping our future world.


What advice do you have for other beginners, especially high school students?

Come up with an idea or a product that you like and start learning. You can start by looking for resources on the internet, which is the best place to learn new skills. Keep learning and don’t forget to have fun!