Dominick Pelaia was only nine years old when he began programming robots at the Apple Summer Camp. From there, his interest in coding only grew.

Now an official app developer, Pelaia learned the Swift programming language with his dad. His creative spirit led him to create his first game, Chicken Rumble

“I wanted to make something fun that me and my friends would like to play,” Pelaia said. “I used a chicken theme because when I was younger, the first thing I built out of LEGOs was a chicken sitting on top of a house.”

The chicken theme would continue throughout his successive games, including the one that led to his success in the Swift Student Challenge.

When the then-eight grader’s inaugural app was accepted to the Apple App Store, he became a member of the Apple Developer Program. Just a few months later, they would invite him to participate in the Swift Student Challenge–a worldwide competition for student developers.

“The fact that my app was able to win because I know there were so many college students that participated … just really amazed me and showed how much hard work could help me do my thing,” he said. “I didn’t have that long to make the app. It was right in the middle of school testing, so I had to find a way to balance studying with actually making it.”

Pelaia and Egg Drop was one of 375 winners worldwide.

Now entering his freshman year of high school at L&N STEM Academy, he’s looking forward to continuing his education in computer science. 

His advice for anyone also interested in coding: build a good foundation in math, take advantage of free resources, and never give up.

“Persistence is very important, no matter what goal you’re trying to achieve,” he said. “That was really instrumental when I was developing my first apps. There were a lot of bugs I had to deal with. I would just take a step back, think about it, then come back to it.”

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