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From coding novice to tech mentor: An inspiring journey with Apple's Swift Accelerator Programme

By The Count - 29 May 2023

From coding novice to tech mentor: An inspiring journey with Apple's Swift Accelerator Programme

Jia Chen Yee is based in Indonesia, taking on the role as a Technical Mentor at the Apple Developer Academy. PHOTO: APPLE

Jia Chen Yee is a coding mentor and twice-winner of the Swift Student Challenge. He's also a prodigious developer who used to view coding as a "superpower". Immersed in the digital age, his journey began with a simple fascination with the potential of technology, swiftly morphing into a relentless pursuit of making coding accessible to all.

Jia Chen's journey is intrinsically linked with the Swift Accelerator Programme which he joined in 2018. In a world inundated with coding tutorials and bootcamps, the Swift Accelerator Programme stood out with its holistic approach, fostering a blend of coding, design, storytelling, and presentation skills.

"I saw it purely as a way to spend my weekends learning Swift. But it covered everything from coding to design to presentation and storytelling. It helped me build a foundation in many of these skills that carry me till this day," he shares, emphasizing the multifaceted approach of the programme. His experience with Swift opened a doorway to mentorship, allowing him to teach and guide his juniors in the realm of coding.

Bianco is an iOS app that helps make machine-embroidery design accessible to creatives. IMAGE: APPLE

Post his graduation, Jia Chen's commitment to the Swift Accelerator Programme didn't waver. He continued returning to the programme every Saturday, and in 2021, he even led a curriculum change, infusing it with fresh perspective and enthusiasm. Despite relocating to Indonesia for his role as a Technical Mentor at the Apple Developer Academy, he still virtually joins in every Saturday, ensuring the learning continues.

A sense of accomplishment and joy radiates from Jia Chen when he talks about the most rewarding part of his role as a mentor: "Watching learners experiment with technologies we intend on covering that they have just heard about is truly inspiring." His approach to teaching carries a spark of his own learning philosophy, the one that allowed him to not only win the Swift Student Challenge twice but also to develop the app, Bianco.

A practical solution in making machine-embroidery design accessible, Bianco was born from a deck of slides and a vision. Jia Chen took this vision and materialised it into an easy-to-use application, lowering the barriers for creatives worldwide. Recounting the development process, he says, "It was a long-term task which seemed quite daunting. But I had no experience with embroidery and was excited to learn a lot through trial and error, and many broken needles."

Jia Chen's biggest fear when Bianco was made available for public use was bugs surfacing. IMAGE: APPLE

Jia Chen's journey, despite the wins and innovations, has had its fair share of challenges. From the need to relearn forgotten math concepts during Bianco's development to the fear of bugs surfacing during its first public use. But his perspective, focusing on the learning and growth, makes him stand out among his peers, turning challenges into opportunities and making way for more innovations.

Now, he is excitedly looking forward to the upcoming WWDC 23. "I’m looking forward to the new ARKit announcements since I’ve been playing around with SceneKit and ARKit a lot more lately." His continued interest in learning, experimenting, and sharing his knowledge speaks volumes about his dedication.

Jia Chen Yee’s story serves as a testament to the power of technology and the role of education in shaping the world. His journey illustrates that coding, once viewed as a complex domain reserved for a select few, can be a fun, exciting, and accessible endeavour. His passion for mentorship and dedication to the Swift Accelerator Programme further emphasises the importance of nurturing the next generation of innovators and coders. With a desire to learn and the drive to experiment, Jia Chen inspires the coding community, illuminating a path for the coders of tomorrow.

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