One year ago, Kai Aldaag applied to Lighthouse Labs’ first-ever iOS bootcamp. Well, he applied to be a mentor, but since he was just turning 14 we figured he’d be a better fit taking the course.

One year later, Kai is an alumni, junior mentor at Lighthouse Labs, and has applied for something quite different: a scholarship to attend WWDC, Apple’s biggest conference and the Mecca for iOS developers. Last week, he attended that conference on full scholarship. Here’s how it happened:

The Application

For an applicant to be considered for the WWDC scholarship, they must code an app in Swift and submit it to the Apple team. Kai did that, and also recorded it on YouTube for easy sharing. Video below:


According to Kai, they judged the apps based on “design, functionality, and content”. His goal was to show that he was passionate about development and eager to continue pursuing it. It would seem that he did that (and note especially the shoutouts to Lighthouse Labs!)

The Conference

Once accepted, Kai went on a whirlwind Friday-to-Friday circus that is WWDC. Here are some of the highlights:

Meet and Greet With Tim Cook

All scholarship winners got to attend a VIP event with Tim Cook, who spoke to them a bit about Apple. According to Kai, he was immediately swarmed for pictures (the same thing happened with Jony Ive). Kai didn’t get a picture with Tim, but he did get one with Craig Federighi, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Software Engineering, whom you may recognize in the picture above from the WWDC Keynote.

HQ Tours

Over the course of 1 week, Kai and the other scholarship recipients got tours of the HQs of Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Twilio, and more. His personal favourite? Actually, the Intel Museum. Apparently it’s one of the most open and welcoming environments down there.

Apple Labs

The coolest directly developer-related experience were the various labs held at Apple, run by top Apple engineers. Kai had the chance to pick their brains and get valuable advice. The top 2 labs? One on prototyping strategy and one on the medical-based Research Kit.

What’s Next?

Building the Swift community

Kai met a few fellow iOS developers from Vancouver, and they bonded over lining up for the keynote speech at 1:00am. He plans on teaming up with them on future projects, as well as staying active in the larger community of scholarship winners. According to Kai, “the community I met through WWDC will last a long time.” No surprise, given the group of previous winners includes engineers at all the top firms in San Francisco.

New projects

Before the conference, Kai was working on a project quite similar to Apple’s newly announced Apple Music. Having seen first-hand what a game changer that is, he has now shifted his focus to working with Apple’s Research Kit. He’ll be creating an app for his Mom based around medical handouts, and plans to contributing to Research Kit itself since it’s open source.

Back to school

Kai will be going back to Walnut Grove, and mentoring at Lighthouse Labs on the side. Learning never stops!

Want to read more about our iOS grads? Check out our blog post, The Eclectic And Wonderful Careers Of Our iOS Bootcamp Graduates!