Dave Jha ’22 wins Apple Developers Award

Jha was one of only 350 students selected from 41 countries as an Apple 2020 Worldwide Developers Conference Swift Student Challenge winner.

When Dave Jha ’22 was a seventh grader, he and his family had the opportunity to tour Apple’s Cupertino campus. “It felt like something from a movie,” Jha says. “Everybody was just very energetic, getting food, having conversations. It was so vibrant.”

Dave Jha ’22

Dave Jha ’22

He was hooked. That was the year this computer science and business major started watching the keynote speeches at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conferences. “I started investing my time into learning the new tools Apple offers to developers and that evolved into this.”

“This” being that Jha was one of only 350 students selected from 41 countries as an Apple 2020 Worldwide Developers Conference Swift Student Challenge winner. Open to students 13 years of age or older, the challenge is to create an interactive scene in a Swift playground—a testing ground for developers.

Jha’s submission was a social distancing simulator that shows users the potential for the spread of COVID-19 by controlling variables such as the size of the population, whether people are asymptomatic, recovered, social distancing or forced distancing. It includes a game mode, where you can try to avoid infection.

“I was just trying to do something to convince people of the dangers, especially my peers,” explains Jha. “A lot of my peers don't really understand the importance of social distancing and how much it can have an impact later.”

Jha’s other pandemic project is PPE4NYC.org, where he is chief technology officer. Started by his friend from the University of Michigan, and staffed by college students from across the country—there are five other Lehigh student volunteers—they have been producing and distributing personal protective equipment to essential workers in New York City since March.

As the Black Lives Matter protest erupted across the country, they have made it part of their mission to make sure protesters have PPE.

Story by Rob Gerth

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