“In high school, I refused to take Intro to Programming. I didn’t want to be one of those high school nerds. Finally, in my last quarter of 9th grade, I took the class, and it was incredible. I was coming home after school every day and re-implementing simple games. Tic Tac Toe, Tetris, Snake, Space Invaders. It was so easy to get something I could send to my friends right away - Visual Basic was a fantastic tool for that.
I ended up taking the rest of the CS Curriculum (AP Computer Science, etc) but it wasn’t nearly as exciting - all these data structures and C++. I drifted away and focused on other interests. By the time I went to college, I was undeclared. I didn’t take a single programming class my first semester there.
Then, as Israelis will, I got drafted into the Israeli military. They had me doing manual QA for this giant defense project. My Hebrew was barely passable, like follow the line with your finger Hebrew. In order to test, I had to read hundreds of pages of specs. I was pretty horrible at it, but they found out I knew Java. After that, I became the engineer for the testing team, building lots of test automation scripts. I was bored, so I started reading this new blog that had just come out, TechCrunch.
By the time I came back to school in 2009, it was obvious to me that I was going to study computer science. It was so mentally stimulating to have to think hard about problems, rather than just writing and maintaining scripts in the army. College was heaven for me.
I assumed when I got to college that there would be a bunch of students excited about making things, but that turned out not to be the case at all. Starting PennApps, I tried really hard to make it so. Now PennApps has become this giant, 100-schools, 1,000 students, six-figure event, and it’s helped inspire similar events at tens of other schools, there’s even a Hackathon League now - It’s not just me ranting anymore. As an entrepreneur, there’s no greater pleasure than causing this little micro-change in reality. It’s incredibly addicting once you realize you can turn your rants about ‘how things should be’ into reality.”